Friday, October 22, 2010

One Hundred Things My Mother Taught Me A Million Times – Chapter 54

#54 – “Put a soft cloth on the arms of your chairs.  It will keep them from getting so worn.”

 This saying brings to mind doilies, ruffles, faded upholstery and chipped furniture.  Because of my mom’s sense of decorating, our family home took on the style of shabby chic when shabby chic wasn’t so cool (Mom would roll over in her grave if she heard me say this!).  You’d have thought that doilies were a status symbol as we had them on practically every surface.  But with mom, I actually think it was about preserving the integrity of the furniture.  In fact she seemed to measure our wealth in furniture.  I wish I had $100 (accounting for inflation) for every time she said, “Those coffee tables are mahogany!  Just feel how heavy they are!”  Then she would always add, “They came from the furniture store in San Angelo!”  Our furniture was pedigreed.

Mom bought furniture to last a lifetime and, sure enough, some of her furniture is still with us.  It’s been divvied out amongst the five of us kids like treasures.  I always wanted mom’s desk, but I ended up with the “girls” bedroom furniture that bedded and clothed four sisters spread over some 60 years.  This furniture now resides in my guest bedroom.  My son Colt has already staked a claim on it “someday.” I was so pleased when he said he wanted it.

Some things should just never go away, like the very distinct fragrance of my childhood home.  It’s a fragrance that lingers like a spirit in that old bedroom suit.  Not always, but often, when I first walk in the door of our house, I get just a fleeting whiff of our old home and am transported back to my childhood.  It is as if the memories have a fragrance that seeps into the wood and, alas, also into the mattress and box springs.  Yes, I know they both need to be replaced and I know it sounds silly, but some of all of us live in that old mattress.  Perhaps I’ll request that mattress be the kindling on my funeral pyre. Click on Read More Below...

 So, on a lighter note, it drove me absolutely crazy when mom switched from doilies to washcloths on the chair arms.  Washcloths!  There was no mistaking them for chair-arm   protectors (at least they were usually color-coordinated).  I remember running around pulling all of the washcloths off the chairs and stuffing them into a closet before a date arrived.  However, the arms of our chairs were pristine!

The leather arms of “my” favorite living room chair have just slightly visible ballpoint pen drawings, courtesy of my little grandchildren.  I smile every time I see them, because I think of my grandchildren and how their little squiggles are there always for me.  And I smile because they always make me remember mom’s #54.


  1. Although I don't always comment, I'm still a faithful reader! So many of the stories about your mother remind me of my family - I especially related to the one about cooking wonderful meals without many ingredients in the house. And now today - JoBeth and I have a very hard time in getting rid of furniture with a history. Keep up the good writing! Charlena

  2. Send me more of your writing Charlena! I enjoy yours as well. Thanks for commenting.

  3. I loved what you said about smells--when I walk into the ranch house on the home place that my brother lives in I always tell him it smells like great grandpaWilse's house on the hill in Ozona--of course Pee Wee always looks at me like I am crazy (the weird thing is grandpa also built that house at the ranch in the 20's, years before the house in town) anyway I now don't feel as crazy--of course there is always the possibility that we are both crazy! Love you dear friend. Linda Sue

  4. SueAnn--I try not to write unless I have something to say, a lesson I hope I have learned. But you may have struck a chord with many people with this smell-ology thing.

    Sooner or later someone will mention moth balls, but I certainly will not.

    I never knew my grandparents (or parents for that matter) but the man I called my grandfather for awhile had this garage, about fifty yards from the big old white house. It had a gravel floor. It smelled like, well, like gas and oil, I guess. Sorta like when an old 2-cycle outboard motor cranks up for the first time in the spring. Even now, I am instantly transported back to that place and time when I happen on an old filling station garage where they have been working on piston engines for fifty years or more and get a whiff of that place.

    And there's one more. An uncle of mine was a county judge in Kentucky and even though smoking has now thankfully been legislated out of nearly every public place, that old cigar smell seems to never go away. Just go in some old courthouse or really old office building and it's still there.

    Those smells are almost time machines.


  5. My Papa (mother's dad) sold furniture in San Angelo...maybe your mother bought something from him. I love old furniture, and the old smells. We went to a house in Phoenix that had been preserved and looked through all the very familiar antiques, but when we stepped into the kitchen, the smells transported me back to my childhood as I stood in my grandmother's kitchen...the wet wood where the dishes drained before "wiping" them?...the crisco smell in the wood of the pie safe?...the old ironing board?...I still don't know exactly what that smell is, but I LOVE it! Rhonda Turk

  6. Do you remember the smell of the yard where Daddy Wade's equipment was stored? It smelled like oil and gas. I had forgotten it until I worked for JS in Alaska and his yard by his office also smelled that way. I have only this one memory of Daddy Wade: he kept candy in a desk drawer for the kids. As I stood in JS's office that day in Kenai I suddenly remembered the candy drawer. All because of the smell. It was a surprising gift.