A club chair with white floral fabric. There is a paper sign on the chair asking that it be saved for the family.

One Chair Through Time

So often, photos tell the stories of people through the decades. Objects have stories too. This chair has seen people come and go, holidays, and pets. Off and on for decades, it was paired with what my mother always called the “drum table.” It has had multiple homes and “worn” four different fabrics. As of December 2017, I became its owner. The chair has been with my family for at least 60 years; this is only part of its story.

I could not locate any family photos from the 1950s that include this chair, but Sherwin-Williams’ Color Through the Decades indicates that Pinky Beige was a popular color at that time. The chair’s original fabric color fits that description perfectly; my parents also had the matching davenport (my mother didn’t adopt the terms “couch” or “sofa” until much later). I time the chair’s arrival to the 1950s.  

The chair continued to be enjoyed by my family in the 1960s, in my parents’ second home: my sister poses in front of it (and the drum table) before departing for a high school prom.  Susan recalls that she loved this dress, which my mother helped her make.

A high school junior or senior girl dressed in a white and green floral short-sleeve dress with white shoes and white gloves. The chair is behind her.

My sister dressed for prom in the late 1960s, the chair, and the drum table.

The family moved in 1970 to accommodate my arrival. The chair came along. Here it is in Christmas 1971, enjoying my maternal grandmother’s company; that’s me (one year old) with the scowl on my face. In the second photo, the chair is supporting my mother and grandmother as gifts are opened (the arms of the chair have often served as a supplemental seat). 

 

In 1974, it was still enjoying Grandma’s company at Christmas. My mother enjoyed reading in this chair, and the cats would begrudgingly share it with her. 

 

Mid-1970s:  time to reupholster! Pinky Beige was no longer in fashion. The chair’s new colors were right in line with Sherwin-Williams’ 1970s shades (Avocado, Edgy Gold, and Afternoon). This is the fabric I remember from my entire childhood. My then brother-in-law is seated in it for my fifth birthday in 1975.

Seven people are in the picture, two in chairs, the rest on the floor, watching a girl open her 5th birthday gifts.

Celebrating Shary’s 5th birthday, 1975.

On to the 1980s. Still paired with the drum table, and still supporting people with its arms (I’m the one seated on the chair’s arm, with my mother and the granddog, Oscar). I remember this as my mother’s morning coffee chair (again, with cat company). She did much reading here (Parade Magazine), as well as Fill-It-In puzzles. It was the focal point for my sister’s 1981 wedding day photos. The chair enjoys Halloween and Christmas in 1984 and a party with my high school friends in 1989.  

 

The fabric held up well, as did the upholstery job…still going strong in the late 1990s (40 years for the chair, 20 for the fabric):  Christmas 1999. The chair has met four grandchildren by this point. You can see the chair’s colors don’t really work with the rest of the room’s color scheme, which had moved on in the 1980s (Cooled Blue, Rosy Outlook, Favorite Jeans). Was the chair reupholstered again, relegated to the basement, or given away?  

Five people enjoying Christmas. One woman seated in the floor on the right, two men on a sofa, another woman seated in a chair, and a young boy on a club chair on the left.

Christmas 1999, chair on left.

It hangs on and gets a new look for the new century (Origami White, Tradewind and Aquitaine) . In 2010, it moves with my parents to a continuing care community.  It spends a year in the apartment with both of them, then moves with my mother to her room in the dementia care unit.  It doesn’t get much use there, but it is familiar to family and continues to serve by holding bags, purses, and coats when we visit.  It was her chair, after all (I don’t recall my father ever sitting in it). 

 

My mother passed away in November 2017. I hadn’t forgotten about the chair. My family assumed we would just leave it for the retirement community to dispose of or use as they saw fit. I told my family I wanted the chair; they were fine with this but surprised. I said, “I remember her drinking morning coffee there, and I always liked the lines of that chair.”  I knew she had reupholstered it multiple times, so why couldn’t I do the same? I remembered it as a wide, bulky chair. How to get it from Ohio to Virginia? The retirement community was kind enough to store it for me for about six weeks (I could tell some of them thought I was a bit crazy too). Turns out it fit into my Honda CRV just fine (the chair seemed bigger when I was smaller), so it made the trip to Virginia during the December 2017 holidays. Upon its arrival, it continued to attract cats.  

 

2018 arrives, and I go fabric shopping. Three stores. Thirty or more fabric samples. Three cats to consider. I find a print that I think will withstand the occasional hairball (and a fabric texture that won’t be attractive to claws). I drop it off to be reupholstered in mid-January 2018; they tell me no more than three weeks. It takes longer (folks out sick, emergencies, etc.).  I’m fine with that; I want it done right. In early April, my husband asks me why I haven’t picked up the chair yet. I tell him I haven’t received a call about it being finished. He informs me they did call. “What?!?!” I overlooked the message. Turns out they called on March 22, which would have been my mother’s 91st birthday. As a friend said, “That’s serendipitous.”  

I picked up the finished product on April 4. Even my husband approves. New seat cushion, springs re-tied, new fabric — but the same chair. I don’t have a 1950s drum table, but I do have a round side table that I pair with it.  I know my mother would have approved.  How many more years does this chair have?  It seems to get reupholstered every 20 years, so at least that long, I expect.  Welcome to your new home.   

A club chair with red printed fabric, next to a round table, in front of windows.

The chair with its fourth upholstery job, in its new home.

One thought on “One Chair Through Time

  1. Anonymous says:

    Dear Sister,
    What a beautiful tribute to Mom … and the chair! I had forgotten many of the details surrounding the chair’s life journey. Being the eldest sister of we three, I guess that chair has been with me most (if not all) of my life. I was born in 1952 and seems like the chair was purchased sometime in the 1950’s. So it would have begun its history with the family in the first family home on Youngstown’s south side. Thank you, Shary. Love, Sue

    Like

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