Earthworms’ Castings

With Jean Ponzi

Good-Bye, Old Chair

It was a grizzly bear of a chair, built to hold you on its lap in a chair bear hug.
Wide and deep: its cushion was nearly two feet square. Broad mounded arm-slabs were perfect for a side-wise leg-sling. Its high stuffed back kindly supported a napping head.

Union Made, its label said, but that was all. No maker, no city, but Union implied U.S.A. Vintage? 1940s: a post-war luxury for working-class homes.

Patterned with flowery swirls, its velvet upholstery began life in magenta glory. Over time, ole’ rosy had faded to a mellow brown with most of that fancy pile worn away. I rested on a lot of bare warp and weft, the sturdy, scratchy under layer of past upholstered grace.

I adopted it in ’84 from the home of friends, who either picked it from an alley or inherited it from a grandma’s house. I like old things, and the places they come from.

It sat in our library, which doubles as a guest room. It played second-chair fiddle to the sofa in there, where our TV tucks into a bookcase. Husband Dale rarely sat in that chair. Occasionally a visitor would. For twenty-plus years this was my chair in the room we mainly sit in, in our house.

Sadly, its relations with my back and butt had strained. Even leaning on a pillow, I slouched into its seat, which my grandma would bluntly describe as rump-sprung. My posture was taking a dive. Could get it overhauled, even though it’s oversized…
Nope, time for a new chair. We checked the nearby furniture resale stores.

A wing-back chair felt like sitting in blinders. A beautiful turquoise chair with carved swan’s neck arms was too low. A red corduroy rocker was snug and nice but could I really relax on scarlet? Lurid upholsteries seem to rule the realm of chairs.
The one contender was a La-Z-Boy rocking recliner. I liked that this chair did two things.
I could slipcover its prim colonial stripe. The price was right, the brand bespoke quality construction. But as with most of my test-sits, this chair was sized for humans with longer legs than me. My feet dangled until gravity prevailed, when my painfully curving back cried NEXT!

What about a new chair? One day while on this seating hunt I drove by a suburban mall with three big-box furniture stores. U-Turn! Zip in!

“What are you looking for?” asked a sales lady. Inspired by my La-Z fave so far I said,

“A small recliner,” while scanning the place.

There was Bedroom, Dining Room, Living Room and RECLINERS.
Bless my Nauga hide, this was a whole honkin’ section of these new-stuff stores. Many C-notes could buy you theater-style groupings of black or RED reclining beasts, joined at the arms to table-blocks with 6 cup holders each. How do homes contain these tilting herds of SUVs? And do people just embed there, and never need to leave them?
Heavens to Pleather, new chair styles were not for me!

Then we stopped at the Miriam Shop, a charity-benefit resale boutique. Donated just that day was a compact rocking swivel chair, covered in a linen-like, pattern-free, nice nubbly weave. It didn’t recline, but that move would actually overtax the space it had to fit. Like Goldilocks’ third try, it felt just right. Made by Ethan Allen, an excellent brand, and priced right too, at just 50 bucks. Win, win, win, win!

Back to my faithful old outgoing chair. Goodbye came on a sunny morning in May, a trash day here in the City of St. Lou. Our efforts were respectfully timed. No forlorn chair setting-out on the curb.

Did I say it was a big and heavy chair? It took a dolly and Dale and me to extract it from our rooms.

“I wrote a lot of grants in this chair,” I reflected. So true: over the 20-plus years of my work on the EarthWays Center team, requests for multiple thousands in program support originated here. In its lumpy brown embrace, my laptop and I pulled dozens of dug-in grant-writing all-nighters.

But that was not all. “The stories and columns you’ve written,” Dale noted, “all the classes you teach and the talks you give. You wrote most of them sitting in this chair.”
Yes, good work, and time for a change.

Here’s to a new chair, supporting new creative and posture needs!
And fond Cheers! to you, dear old chair. Please take your Seat Of Honor among my stories, here.

Sit down with Jean Ponzi for conversations-in-Green. Her weekly Earthworms podcasts come to you from KDHX St. Louis Independent Media at podcasts.kdhx.org.