Sunday, August 10, 2008
Alright, all that aside. Let's get to the heart of this post. I'm talking possibly the all-time greatest find. Certainly, it is my biggest thrifting score to date. So that's probably over a decade at this point. So Mr. Chair is now, officially my score of the decade. Without further ado, let me introduce Mr. Chair:
I know, he's a beauty! Mr. Chair was manufactured by Plycraft Inc during--you guessed it--the mid-century. I've been shocked to find (or not find, as the case may be) very little about the company or their products online. I will even go so far as to say that I am posting the first, and currently, only photo of this particular version of Mr. Chair on the entire World Wide Web. Now, I know that's some big talk, but I'm all about big talkin'.
The story begins this morning when I remembered that I needed to go to my source for all things wonderful. I had a request for a similar pair of earring to ones I had made before. Normally I work with decorative tin cans, but this past March during SXSW I branched out to other music related materials. At the time I had an old RCA album (yes, vinyl) sitting around and I thought the RCA dog would make a great pair of earrings. Plus, I wanted to see if my fab circle punch would cut circles from the vinyl without cracking it. It worked great and I did put together a nifty pair of earrings.
So today I had to find more RCA albums. As expected, I had more than enough choices. I also found an Elvis 'Moody Blue' blue translucent vinyl album too. I checked. It's not valuable so I'm going to punch a bunch of circles from that one too. We have ACL coming up soon, so I need to get ready for that.
Focus, Christine. Focus. Back to Mr. Chair. I walked in to the store and did my perfunctory cursory glance to the front left corner. This is where all the furniture, rugs and other big houseware stuff gets relegated. I can't remember ever buying anything from this corner before. I think I've only even been interested enough to walk over maybe twice in the past. But not today. Today, hiding between boxes of cheap Target furniture (never opened) and a pretty cool upholstered chair, was my score of the decade. Just waiting for me.
That's part of the allure of thrifting for me. When I mentally walk back over the path that I envision these gems have taken to get to me, I'm always just a little in awe. I'm not a religious person, but I think I come closest to understanding that feeling when I contemplate things like this. Walk with me.
Mr. Chair was purchased originally, I'm guessing, say, late sixties. He lived in some hip urban couple's (at least one of whom had to be an architect) den for 10 or 15 years. Happily enjoying his stature as the couple's signature piece. This couple sees the writing on the wall as the 80's approach. Bent plywood and black leather is out, out, out. Chrome and white leather is what it's all about now. Mr. Chair has got to go. Fortunately for him, he was once cool--heck practically an Eames--and he's really comfy. So, he doesn't get sold but relegated to the kids playroom in the basement. Here he weathers several years of teen-age bodies crashing in from above, chips ground into his seams, and general disrespect. He's not happy exactly, but he is, at least, home. Ah, but not so fast Mr. Chair. The kids are off to college and the parents have decided to re-do the playroom into a swingers paradise. No place for Mr. Chair any more. After years of loyal service, the final ignominy--the yard sale. He's set out on the lawn next to the old stuffed animals and plaid golf pants.
By now it's the mid eighties. Mr. Chair is just a crappy old chair in the eye's of the me generation. So some starving artist bought it at the yard sale for $10 and lugged Mr. Chair and Mr. Ottoman back to his ratty studio apartment. Mr. Artist used Mr. Chair for a year or two and then got enough cash together to buy some 'good' furniture at J.C. Penny's. This was Mr. Chair's life for a decade or more. Moved from one crappy apartment to the next, one starving artist to the next. But then, in the late nineties, that all changed. Mr. Chair was languishing in the back corner of a dusty thrift store in Paducah, when an architect and her partner espied just the slightest sliver of his bent plywood backside. They dug through the sagging couches, water-stained tables and brass floorlamps to rescue Mr. Chair (and his ottoman) from oblivion. Mr. Chair was cleaned up and placed in a place of honor once again. This is the part I can't figure out, though. Why did they get rid of Mr. Chair!!?? He served them well for a decade. Hell, he's still considered cool at this point. Didn't they at least try to sell him? Why oh why was he in my last-call Goodwill store? And the final mystifying detail--apparently, he didn't sell at the regular Goodwill for $49.99.
All of that leads me back to my original thought--Mr. Chair was meant to be with me (sorry Randall). What if I hadn't needed those RCA albums? Or, what if I had decided to go tomorrow? Where would Mr. Chair be then? Would he have still been waiting for me? It's an enigma wrapped up in a conundrum. . .
at 12:02 AM