Wednesday, November 28, 2012

An end to era, kinda of, the beginning of an era anew

This week I sold my share in the family farm that has been in the family since 1822.  My uncle bought my share.  The way the agreement was written up if I got hit by the bread truck tomorrow, the husband couldn't inherit my share because we aren't married in Ohio, it has to convey to family members.  Never mind Maryland, our home state, recognizes our marriage, Ohio does not.

Kinda sad, but it was a lot of headaches.  When my grandmother died it was divided between my mother and her three brothers and it lead to all sorts of bad feelings towards each other.  Then they drove a new freeway smack through the middle of it and it stopped being a "farm" and was just "land".

Anyhow, glad to be rid of it, and the cash in hand before the tax rate goes up. Now I'll invest it in something terribly droll, and boring, and safe until we know what happens when the nation falls over the "Fiscal Palisades", as I like to call it.

So that is the end.

This is the beginning anew:

My other project was that we got the love seat (actually, it's a real Federal era settee) out of the basement.  Now that we have room for it, it was time to remove it from storage and get it up and back to the living.

This poor piece of furniture has been resurrected so many times that I've started calling it "Jesus Christ".

My mother's great great great grandparents brought it with them in wagon when they crossed over the Cumberland Gap and headed to Ohio in 1804.  Somehow it made it to our branch, and it was used an abused for generations.  At some point, my great grandmother stored it in the old farm house at the farm that my mother grew up in.  Then in the 1960s, Mom drove down to Marion, and sick of seeing it and the house it was in crumbling before her eyes, she threw it in the back of the convertible Impala and transported it to Shaker Heights.

My father took it to one of his famous "friends", an upholsterer with a rap sheet, who ripped off the original fabric (mostly threadbare) ruined the finish, stripped the gold leaf from the carved arms and "antiqued" it baby shit brown.  And why did people "antique" antique furniture in the 1960s?

When Mom heard about that, she was p-i-s-s-e-d.  She drove that Impala down there, put the down the top in the dead of winter, and had them put in the back of car and she drove it home where the frame, complete with the horsehair stuffing, sat for years.  My father was mad too.  He sold the Impala and bought her a Riviera - a car with a fixed roof that she couldn't haul crap around in.

In the 1980s, she finally had it recovered, and used it for years, and when she and my step father married, the husband and I rented a van and schlepped it back down to Columbus and it lived in our basement because we didn't have any room for it. Then my friend Simina needed furniture for her home, so lent it to her.  She and I got in a fight (and we haven't spoken in years) and when I went to reclaim it, she had left her cats use it for a litter box and sharpening station for their claws.   So into our basement it went for 10 years until last week when we brought it up.

Here's the before and the after:



I thought the upholstery was cheeky.  Not the greatest job, but it works.  We'll sit on it for a few days, then I'll pull the staples out, re-stretch it and put on the French gimp.  Something nice to draw visitors into the Sun Room. 

So its the end of the old and beginning of the old made new again...


  1. It's sad that in the 21st century, things have not progressed very far, and you were forced to make the decision about selling the farm for archaic and unpleasant reasons. Even if the money is a hidden boon, a decision like this should have been under your control.

    I am very glad that your settee, both an antique and a family heirloom, is getting a new lease on life. It looks handsome now. Your story makes me think of some of the pieces that are strewn about Ohio since I broke up my house and came to Taiwan.

  2. i like it.......may i borrow it so my corgis can shit & piss on it?

    what the hell is wrong with some people?

    1. You know, I believe that the friendships in life, for people like me, have an arch. We were friends for a very long time. But after 20 years I got tired of who she was regressing into. But yeah, the cats ruined it. But do you like the fabric, or are the squiggles too much?

    2. i adore squiggles; yours are exemplary.

    3. I find it welcoming & in keeping with the ideas of design for the period...

      Perhaps one period pillow, stuffed animal or throw, off to the left....

  3. Great story, great piece! Show more of your home, PLEASE!

    The farm money is part of your retirement, so no not a bad decision to take the cash and run!

  4. Ah, the joys of family real-estate and impractical family furniture - a post that sounds all too familiar. Drop on by the Café soonish for a look at something I'm thinking about, inspired by your lovely and beautifully reupholstered settee...

    1. And it's all one person who has caused all this grief all these years. I hope he's happy with what he really paid for this land, because it wasn't just money.

  5. Man, the things I could do on that setteee, with the right company. Of course, you would need to reupholster yet again....

  6. Like Solomon said of his inheritors: "Who knows if he will be a wise man or a fool; this too is vanity."

    I think we all know that you are the wise man in this situation...

    PS They put 480 through the middle of the matriarchal farm, right there to the west of 77....

    The patriarchal farm house was still there at Hauserman & Tiedeman around 1985 when they used to intersect; I just don't have the heart to take a gander right now...

  7. A bit too much for me but I hope you enjoy it.

  8. What a great, evocative post!

    Money and things cause such heartache. People can be so greedy and despicable. When my grandparents, in their 90's, were moving in with my aunt, relatives swooped down on their things like vultures. They fought over who was getting what, right in front of my grandmother. It was disgusting.

    She kept urging me to take something, but I refused because I didn't want to be like the others. When the apartment was almost empty I saw her every day dishes were packed in a box. I loved those dishes, they represented my grandparents to me, so I asked if she would mind if I took them as a memento. I polled everyone there, no one else wanted the dishes. When I got home, I went on Replacements, Ltd. to order some extra pieces. I discovered the dishes, a Mikasa discontinued pattern she started collecting in the 30's, were worth a small fortune. And then everyone got mad at me because I was a "sneaky thief". They can call me what they want, no one will cherish those dishes more than I do. :)

    And the settee is perfect. Lovely restoration.

    1. The in-laws are getting quite old, and have just celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. This past summer our sister in law and the niece (27) and nephew (20) came out east to see them and we joined them so the entire family could be together.

      The morning before we left all left for the airport, I took Niece and Nephew into the living room, opened the breakfront and told them to take two pieces of sterling for themselves.

      "What are we going to do with it?" the niece asked.

      "It isn't that you are going to do anything with it. These are things that have sentimental value and meaning for your grandparents. One day when you are fifty you'll be glad you have a nice physical reminder of them, and you in turn can pass them onto your children. And besides, sterling is sky high. So think of them as investment pieces.

      The inlaws, by the way loved the idea.

      Father in law "But when we asked them if they wanted anything they said what would we do with it."

      Mother in law "He didn't ask them if they wanted any, he told them to take it. Which is good."