I have no head, and a tail I lack,
But oft have arms, and legs, and a back;
I inhabit the palace, the tavern, the cot-
‘Tis a beggarly residence where I am not.
If a monarch were present (I tell you no fable),
I still should be placed at the head of the table.
What am I?
You have probably already guessed the answer, a piece of furniture often passed down through the generations. Yet sorting through what is bequeathed us, we often handle family heirlooms whose origins are a riddle.
Our mother’s adjustable high chair, for example. It’s for sure from the Metzler/Landis side of the family, but we are not sure exactly where it came from. Did parents Abram and Sadie Metzler buy it new? Did the Landis grandparents present it as a gift because it was their very first grand-daughter? It looks well preserved, but its origin still a puzzle.
This gorgeous, glazed floral dish . . . of its vintage we are sure.
It’s no mystery where this Japanese teacup came from either. Mother, pretending to be me, wrote legibly in black that it’s from my maternal Grandma, Annie Metzler. It once survived an explosion in my curio cabinet. You can read about that here.
The German Bible has been in our family for centuries. The signatures signify it belongs in the Longenecker line. No mystery there.
A Special Chair
This chair below has sat in our bedroom for years. And it’s no enigma where it came from.
The provenance of the chair was taped to the bottom of this chair. Did I say chair? Yes, of course, this is the answer to the riddle above.
Since 1975, I have transcribed the names of generations of Martins and Longeneckers that have used this chair to host dinners. It’s called the Joseph Martin chair because it was handed down to us from Fannie Martin Longenecker, our grandmother.
Teacups, dishes, and chairs are inanimate. Unlike the personable “characters” in the Be Our Guest song from Beauty and the Beast, they come to life only when friends and family gather ‘round the table hospitably.
A Memorable Dinner
This photo was snapped just before bodies of all ages – the wiggly young, the pregnant great grand-daughters, the middle-aged, the elderly – gathered around the table at Grandma Longenecker’s house ready to dig in to Christmas dinner in 2004.
This was the last time Aunt Ruthie was able to host the dinner. She was 86 then. Of course she had lots of help, but this was the last time she sat as hostess at the head of the table, probably on an antique chair.
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What antiques do you regularly use at home? Have stored in the attic? Do you know a reliable website or service for valuing antiques?
Coming next: Sastruga, Snowy Winter Blankets