A Pocket of Resistance: A Coffee Table

i have not made many entries this past week: been a little down; still haven’t figured out this not-working thing, but i’m getting better. And this made me feel good. 

Sometime around 1942, Jimmy and Estelle Jewell bought a coffee table to go in the living room of the house they had just bought on Castle Heights Avenue. It was one of two adjacent homes just recently built. They were the last two houses on the block between West Main and West Spring. There was no other homes to the south until one reached a farm house or two past Leeville Pike (as i remember my father telling me).

The table was not a very large piece of furniture with an oval top twenty-eight inches in length, eighteen inches wide, and eighteen inches high. The top was glass, rimmed with a wood frame. The bottom had carved legs. It wasn’t very ornate, but it was pretty, and more importantly, it was serviceable.

It was replaced sometime in the 1950’s i believe. Mother had a local carpenter make her a much larger table with matching end tables. They had marble inlaid tops and were much more elegant and more serviceable.

i am trying to recall where they moved the old table, and they may have moved it into the attic off the upstairs bedrooms. i can no longer call my mother and researcher extraordinaire to set me straight. Now, i call Martha and Joe, my younger sister and brother because they may not have the incredible memory our mother had, but they remember a lot more than me. But it’s late here in the Southwest Corner, and it’s three hours later in Chattanooga, Tennessee and Queechee, Vermont, so i will have to rely on my faulty recall.

Regardless, when Mother died sixteen months ago, the three siblings and their families closed down the Jewell estate accumulated over more than three-quarters of a century. Somehow, i ended up with that small coffee table.

The cane which had held the glass top in place in the frame had broken into pieces, and the wood (i am not a furniture guy, so it’s a guess, but i think it might be cherry) had gathered some scratches and quite a bit of dirt.

i considered stripping it by getting someone to dip it. i have refinished several pieces of furniture in my past, but the stripping agents now are not as powerful, thank you, EPA, and my latest attempts to strip something myself has not turned out well. Finally this weekend, i went out in the workshop side of the garage, pulled out the table, did a jury rig on the cane to hold the glass in place, did a thorough cleaning, and finally used a furniture restorer.

The table will eventually need a more professional makeover. i decided i wanted to try and get it back to its original state as closely as i could.

Prior to this weekend, my chair in the family room had a glass and metal stand about ten-inches square. This was to hold the television remote control, my glass, my phone, my reading glasses, my book or magazine currently being read, and any snacks, cookies, etc.

Now, my parents’ coffee table is sitting by my chair. As it once was, it is serviceable.

i kind of like it.


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