Chair Stories: Tall Tales

Teresa bought a Comb Back Rocker, a chair I built with my friend Don a couple years ago. Here’s a story about her chair:

I put the finishing touches on the Comb Back Rocker, and set down my brush. “Brush; Comb…” my mind set off, as my father’s does, on a caper of words:

“Brush with….” and I thought of Don, a retired elevator installer with hair-raising stories.

Don wanted to learn how to make a Comb Back Rocker, so we traded. He’d paint my house, and I’d teach him chairmaking.

After lunch one day, Don was smoking a cigarette in front of my shop and started a story in his rather thick Chicago accent.

“I’m up on the 37th floor of new construction in the middle of the night. I’m waiting for them to hoist the elevator motor up the shaft. Slower-Than-Dirt. I lay down on a beam (back then I wasn’t any wider than it was). I grab the flanges of the I-beam beneath me and look up at the stars.

“Next thing I know, I wake up. Clouds are going by at a tremendous clip. It feels, I swear, like the building is falling. For five minutes I can’t let go: my fingers are locked onto the beam.

He paused to flick his cigarette onto the gravel drive.

“Falling, that actually happened to me once. The building, I mean. A buddy talked me into going to his hunting cabin for the weekend instead of working on the fifteen-story job where we were fitting elevators. We came back on Monday: the whole building had collapsed the day before.”

As he put out his cigarette with thumb and forefinger, I breathed a silent prayer: “Thank you, thank you for helping me to find the trade of Windsor Chairmaker.”

We walked back into the safety of the shop and resumed work on our Comb Back Rockers.

Posted in Chair Stories, Chairmaking Tools and Supplies
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Todd Kelly
3 years ago

Whoa….. think you might have a knack for telling stories….or documenting other’s stories… either way… kudos….

thanks Elia

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