Monday, September 29, 2014

The genuine leather chair

(This article appeared in The Christian Science Monitor in 1967)

The rough, clean smell of saddle soap blended with the odor of aged leather on my father's old chair. The creases in the leather were like wrinkles of a loved face -- memories of smiles.

The smell of new leather remained on that chair for weeks. When it first came to our house, its brass tacks shown brightly against the green cowhide upholstery. Now they're rubbed to a mottled brown and yellow.

Dad taught me the special care a leather chair needed. Never jump into it thoughtlessly, or put dirty shoes on the handsome ottoman that stood before it. "Always remember it's a genuine leather chair," he said.

The chair, in my off-campus Boston apartment.

But it was really his special chair. Returning home from work each day, he'd sink into it with his paper, and return to it again after supper for a quiet evening. If he read me story before I went to bed, the chair could hold both of us.

One summer, when I'd grown a little bigger, I flopped into the chair too heavily and split the cushion seam wide open. Dad used a special needle to make firm stitches in the worn leather, securing the seam with a new thread.

When I left home for college, my student budget was too small to include much furniture so Dad offered a remedy, claiming, "we really don't need that old chair around the house anymore." When I protested it was "his chair," he told me I'd love it just as much as he did. "Remember, it demands care in exchange for the comfort it gives," he said. "If you take care of it, it will seem ageless, because it's genuine."

When I showed the old chair to my new wife a few years later, we looked at its tired upholstery as we thought about our new home. "How much longer shall we keep it?" she asked.

"As long as we need it, I guess. Dad said it's almost ageless, because it's genuine."

"What a lovely thought," she reflected. "That's just the way Dads are too."

Samuel H. Horn, 1905-1970

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