July 29, 2012

Two Chairs…



“I see you’re into antiques,” my visitor said, glancing at two chairs prominently placed in the foyer of the parsonage where my husband Monte and I were living.

“Not really,” I told him. 

I am reminded of this conversation whenever I sit in one of these two chairs.


In the many places my husband Monte and I’ve lived the captain’s chair is usually in the living room. Although it sat in the foyer in the parsonage I mentioned, In our current home it sits at a desk in my living room.

It was a wedding gift from my grandfather, Albert C. A. Briskay (Borinsky). We visited him and his second wife, Blanche, while traveling to New England on our honeymoon. Before we left their Kittery, Maine, home he presented the chair to us.

“It was a wedding gift to your grandmother (May Isabelle Walker) and me,” he said. He’d been married in 1920. “It came from a professor who had used it at his home.”

At the time, my husband was a physics professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

“I think it’s appropriate for the chair to go from one professor’s home to another professor’s home,” my grandfather said.

I didn’t think to ask who the professor was who gave the chair to my grandparents, but I believe I’ve narrowed it down. My great grandfather Allen Walker, had a summer house in East Lamoine, Maine, where his grandfather and great-grandfather lived. In that community are two possibilities: Rev. John Winterbotham or Professor Young. I haven’t finished researching the details yet.

Someday, this chair will pass on to our son, Nolan. In so doing, it will follow the tradition of being passed on from a professor’s home to a professor’s home to a third professor’s home. Nolan teaches at Cleveland State University in Ohio.


The second chair is a high-armed claw-footed rocking chair.

While living in New Castle, Pennsylvania, our family had a foster child, Quinnkeisha. I told everyone that when we received the first check for her care I would purchase a rocking chair. After all, how can you care for a baby without a rocking chair in the house?

I searched several antique/used furniture stores. One was several miles down the road from our home. There I found a high-armed claw-foot rocking chair. I sat in it and fell in love with it. The price tag said $60.

“Would you take less?” I said, practicing my bartering skills.

“I might if I could,” the store clerk said. “But it’s sold. There’s a deposit on it and I’m waiting for the purchaser to pick it up.”

“Oh,” I said.

Before I left, I wrote my name and phone number on a sheet of paper.

“Just in case,” I told the clerk. “Just in case the purchaser doesn’t show up, give me a call.”

I left, disappointed.

Several days later I answered the phone.

“The person who left the deposit hasn’t returned,” the store clerk told me. “You can have the chair.”

I made arrangements to pick it up and went to the shop as soon as possible.

“Since the person who put the deposit on the chair didn’t pick up the chair, you still have the deposit,” I said. “Would you be willing to split the deposit and deduct my half from the cost of the chair?”

I paid $40 for the chair.

Although I loved the chair no one else did.

“Ugly!” was the consensus of opinion.

Then my daughter, the most vocal dissenter, sat in the chair. After that, it was her chair of preference. The fact is that the chair is very comfortable. And all household members came to love the chair when they sat in it. Almost immediately arguments ensued as to who was going to sit in this rocking chair.

“The rule is,” I said, “whoever has the baby gets the chair.”

From that point on everyone wanted to hold Quinkeisha.

Someday this chair will be passed down to our daughter, who originally disliked it.


On Labor Day, 2012, the captain’s chair will celebrate forty-six years of being a part of our household. The rocking chair celebrated twenty-four years last winter.

These are just two pieces of our furniture and household goods that contain sentimental stories. I’ll relate more later.


I’m certain some of you, my readers, have stories about your furniture or household belongings. I invite you to share them in the comment box below.




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