Two Chairs...


Two Chairs

Back in the late 1920's and 30's my mom's family left the heat of the city (NYC) for the cool of the Berkshires a few hours drive away across the Whitestone Bridge. They (my grandmother Augusta -Gussie) and her two sisters Dot and Nonnie, and brother Fred and their spouses along with Dot's two kids and Gussie's rented three cottages on a lake in Connecticut. What a time they had from the stories they told! Gussie lived to 97, Fred to 102, so they were around for a long while to tell those stories.

They finally bought three lots, two lakefront lots and one across the road with lake access on the lake between my grandmother's and her sister Dot's (Dorothy). They camped for a few years, then Fred and Henry (Dot's husband) built two houses on the lakefront. Nonnie and George bought a Sears & Roebuck house and had it installed across the street. The year was 1938. I came into being November 1949, and was named for Gussie's husband, my grandfather Frank Louis Jockers. I spent every summer on that lake from the time I was 8 months old, until I turned 18 and was away at school. That's when they sold the cottage and EVERYTHING in it. Since Gussie was the last holdout, all three families lost their immediate connection to that beautiful lake.

This story is about the chairs though, so let me get back to them. There were two of them. Heavy metal chairs, one red one blue and they sat out on the lawn next to our cottage (Stardust) every summer. They sort of rocked and were called "Bup bup" chairs.

Fast forward 18 years. I am 36, married with two kids of my own, Adrian 9 and Monica 8. I decided I wanted to take my family back to that lake, to show them how nice it was, how it was just as I described it in all my stories. My parents even joined in one year and rented a cottage right next door to our cottage which had been torn down only to be replaced by a boxy monstrosity. One evening we were out for a walk and I look up back- every house on the lake owned property across the road just as every house across the road owned lake front access. Up in back where an old well still once stood, rocks piled high around it with a metal post where the bucker once hung, was a trash pile. All the stuff they were too lazy to take to the dump went back there. My grandmother had to be spinning in her grave. On top of this pile of trash and whatnot was the red chair. You could tell it had been out there a while, it was rusted and sad. Well, I rescued that chair and cleaned her up, sanded her, rust-proofed her and painted her in the fire-engine red paint.

I had looked around, but no sign of the blue chair. No where to be found. Vacation over, we headed back to school, my folks got to stay the entire months of July and August. One evening I get a call from my dad who is all excited. "Guess what I found?" he said. "What?" I asked. "I found the blue chair!" he told me. Turns out he was taking a walk along the line of cottages with my mom and looks down into a yard and there sat this gentleman in the chair. I can hear my mom now, "Glen you're NOT going down there!" I can hear my dad, "What's the harm? That was your family's property." So my dad walks down the steps introduces himself and asks where he got the chair. "Oh hell, it was thrown up on a trash heap behind old Nick's place. The other one was all rusted, but this one wasn't so bad, and I asked Nick if I could have it, he said go ahead, so I took it, why?" "Well," my dad began, "we used to live in old Nick's place, my wife's family built it, the house next door and the one across the street. That chair was my late mother-in-law's favorite chair. Would you consider selling it?" "Nope!" he said quickly. "You can have it though," and he gestured to the chair he had just gotten up from. "Ya need help with it, heavy son-of-a-bitch." "No thank you, but the wife I I can handle it."

I soon came into possession of the blue chair, which I gave a similar treatment and when we got our own lake house in West Virginia, the two chairs sat proudly on the deck, united again. This spring, I decided they needed an update, so they got stripped, sanded, primed and stand ready for two new coats of red and blue paint so they can proudly grace the deck of our newly expanded summer home on Mt. Storm Lake. They are now 78 years old, and every bit as strong and solid as the day my grandmother bought them for her summer home. Promise I will sent photos when I have the final coat of paint on them. Funny how these old chairs, a link to my grandmother, my parents, my family will one day be my daughter Sade's link to me, and her family history.


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