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When furniture was treasured

Looking back with Lloyd Mathews, original published date unknown

In the past few weeks I have written about the country fireplace and the country kitchen stove. There are other old pieces of furniture that come to mind when I think back on my childhood. One such piece of furniture is the hall rack. This is a piece that few homes were without. In case you are near my age you know exactly what I’m talking about, but for those not familiar, the hall rack was or is a piece of furniture that sat in the front hall and was always available for the ladies and gentlemen to hang their coats when they came for a visit, and for the gentlemen to hang their hats. Usually there was a space set aside for umbrellas or, as some ladies of that day called them, parasols. It use to be that when an aged couple passed on and the estate settled, there was always a child or grandchild waiting around to grab that hall rack.

Of course there were other treasures that sometimes family members would be ready to fight over, like the pie safe. You can probably remember some of your grandmother’s pies and cakes and their special flavor, and how hard it is to find flavors today to match them. The pie safe deserves much of the credit. Deserts stored in those old cabinets with the nail-holed tin in the doors blended flavors, creating a taste that is out of this world. A blend of grandmother’s pound cake, coconut pie, molasses cookies and other delicacies made a heavenly flavor, and a great temptation for hungry grandchildren.

Another piece of furniture that the heirs would almost fight over was the china cabinet. That was the large piece of furniture that was made up of nearly all glass, and it held the dishes that had been in the family more years than their owners. Some had come down through generations of grandparents since the time the surrounding mountains were settled. Some were old and cracked, but at an auction sale would be priceless.

Having recently been forced by reasons of poor health the move from our country home, my wife and I had to make some very difficult decisions about what to keep, what to give away, and what to move with us to an apartment. I’m sure we made some right decisions, and we will find out later that we made some poor ones. It’s mighty hard to give up antiques, however worthless, realizing we have had them for so many years.

Another choice item found at many estate sales is the grandfather clock. These priceless old treasures are getting more scarce, and very few can be found these days that still keep time. People who own them usually just keep them for show pieces. New ones are being manufactured, but they are not like the real old timers (no pun intended):

My Grandfather’s clock was too large for the shelf so it stood 90 years on the floor.

It was taller by half than the old man himself, and it weighed not a penny weight more.

It was bought on the morn of the day that he was born, and was always his pleasure and pride.

But it stopped short, never to go again, when the old man died.

Ninety years without slumbering, tic toc, his life’s seconds numbering, tic toc,

It stopped short, never to go again, when the old man died.

My grandfather said that of those he could hire

Not a servant more faithful he found.

Though it wasted not time it had but one desire

At the end of each week to be wound.

And it kept in its place not a frown upon its face,

And its hands never hung by its side.

But it stopped short, never to go again, when the old man died.

It rang an alarm in the dead of night,

An alarm that for years had eben dumb,

And we knew that his spirit was grooming for flight,

That his hour for departing had come.

Still the clock kept the time, as we stood by his side,

With a soft and double chime.

But it stopped short, never to go again, when the old man died.

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