Chairs Around (and on!) the Quilt
This week, chairs were scooted and wheelchairs were rolled... right up to the Quilt-covered table for my first ever, Chair Theme!
I've been itchy to do this theme for a long time, because I love chairs and I have a lot of tiny ones. But mostly, I thought it would be fun, because every kind of person can relate to chairs.
My Chair Prep
For a long time I've been collecting photos of chairs. Recently I've asked friends, family and even a stranger (when I was buying a chair) to tell me their chair stories. I have learned if you give someone a moment (maybe while relaxing in a chair) they will come up with a good chair memory.
My Chair Memory?
I have many, but this wicker rocker could tell more stories than I ever could!
I have memories of this rocker and my 100 year old great grandmother. Later the chair moved with my family to Iowa and became a favorite for cartoon watching. Since Iowa, the rocker has lived in 5 more states and it's been covered in 4 different colors of paint and fabric since my ownership. My own kids were rocked in it and I'm sure future grandchildren will be.
More Rocker Stories
I didn't waste time with my stories, though. I heard about rocking chairs from storytellers who were younger than 10 and way over 90.
My little rocker collection spurred on lots of discussion about the design of a rocker and what you can do while you're rocking... and what are the dangers of rocking chairs... and who uses rocking chairs more, young mothers or the elderly? And what's the best place for a rocker?
I guess my theme of chairs was almost too broad. We could have talked 2 hours about rockers!
I had my own fun before packing up my collection of 27 small chairs. When sitting around the quilt later, I showed the photo of my proud stacking accomplishment. They didn't think it was nearly as awesome as the picture of the circus performer, balancing on a jumbled stack of chairs.
Our Own Skills
I purchased a plastic chair-stacking game on eBay. Some took on the balancing task with enthusiasm, while some seemed confused. Dot questioned me in her Louisiana drawl, "Why are we doing this?" My answer of "For fun" seemed sufficient.
For a few, fiddling with the plastic chairs was yet another way to spur on a memory. Donna said, "I remember when my teacher asked us to help stack the chairs in the classroom!" A few started stacking the tiny chairs in a proper "one up, one down" fashion. Personalities shine through, when playing with tiny chairs!
Chairs for Relaxing
The most enthused discussion revolved around the chairs that help us relax. We debated over the best outside chairs from Adirondack to folding lawn chairs. "And when we're sitting in those heavenly chairs, what do we look at and what do we do?"
Adele described watching the ocean from a chair on the boardwalk. Lucy remembered a porch chair with a view of Lake Michigan. Then she shook her head and wondered out loud, "Why did I ever leave Michigan?" I worried that I had caused an ache of yearning. "What!" I interrupted her sigh, "That is no fair. I have never enjoyed a view of Lake Michigan from a porch! I'm pretty jealous of your memory!" She laughed and agreed, she was lucky to have it.
Robert picked up the Adirondack chair and told us he remembered sitting in a chair just like it. "I sat in it and read the bible." I liked picturing Robert lounging in a chair and reading, since most of his stories are about hard work on the farm or in the service.
Chairs With a Purpose
We had a great time comparing the chairs we enjoy while being pampered, to the chairs we dread, because they bring us pain. I meant the dental chair! I had not planned on discussing electric chairs... although my buddy Ken did bring it up. We all cringed.
Chairs in Books
The book of "397 Chairs" seemed to entertain Ramona and Wilma for quite some time. But we had a hard time coming up with a book or movie involving chairs. We decided "The 3 Little Bears" was the only book that seemed to have a spotlight on chairs.
Chairs in Music
We had some fun remembering the game of Musical Chairs, but it was harder coming up with songs about chairs. I found only a few recordings, mostly country songs with rocking chairs... some too sad to play.
I did find a duet with Louis Armstrong and Jack Teagarden singing, "Old Rockin' Chair's Got Me". When I asked my last group if they knew of any chair songs, Robert worked to remember the lyrics of the old Armstrong song. When I played the recording, it was fun to watch the whole gang begin to sway with the slow and bluesy duet. It made it seem as though we had all just gotten seated in rocking chairs, that rocked side to side...rather than forward and back!
Here's a Youtube video of the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jh9mereIx1o
Manners and Discipline
We brainstormed chair rules. "Don't tip back in your chair." "Sit still!" "Don't stand on that chair!"
I asked how many remembered chairs being used for punishment?" None of us ever remembered the luxury of a rocking chair in the corner. The portrait of me posing in a chair, nearly looks like a child being punished... or at least a Time Out Chair. But I don't think "time out" had been invented yet. My mother had her own chair discipline. When my sister and I bickered, she put us in 2 chairs that faced each other. We weren't allowed to argue anymore, but we were encouraged to make faces. We knew Mom expected us to end up laughing, so we tried our best to not let her plan work. Our teamwork against Mom's psychology usually lasted a short while. And then the torture of suppressing giggles ended!
Pass the Rocker
I ended each group by passing a small rocking chair around the table. Each had a turn to describe a chair they remembered or a chair they would love to have.
Dot recalled a handmade rocker, similar to the one pictured. She nearly fell out of her own chair with enthusiasm as she described the day the rocking chair salesman drove his truck right up to their house in Louisiana. "My mama and papa had oak rocking chairs in the fireplace room and I wanted one just like theirs. I cried and cried until I got me a little baby rocking chair!" Her grin was probably just as big as the one she had the day she got her way.
In my last group, we had an eight year old join her grandmother. She talked about a rocking chair in her house that had been there since her big sister was a baby. "And she's eleven!" I wanted to chuckle at the idea of an 11-year-old chair, being old. But I didn't dare break the trusting spell of the sweet group, by acting amused.
Ken said they had a child-sized rocking chair in their home. "For a while, we used to loan the chair to a department store at Christmastime. They used it in their window display." That thought got the whole group thinking about rocking chairs near fireplaces, with a cup of hot chocolate! And Christmas music! Yummy food smells wafting from the kitchen!
Mother's and Rocking Chairs
Angel raised 5 daughters and remembered the task of rocking one child to sleep, only to pick up another and start all over.
Sue remembered rocking in a glider that sat in their sunroom. .. until it got too hot in the summer. But one day, her mother made a trade with a friend and swapped the yellow, electric mixer for an electirc fan. Then it was breezy enough, so Sue could sit and read her book!
Lois described the nursery where she rocked her children. We all tried to imagine the sounds of the nursery. Did the rocker squeak? "No, but the baby cried!"
Rocking on Porches
Many had porch memories with summer and crickets and lemonade. I loved Marie's memory of rocking on a front porch, watching cars and people as well as trees and squirrels!
Men in Rockers
We had talked earlier about the relief President Kennedy's rocker brought to his weary back. That reminded us that rockers aren't just for moms.
Margaret remembered her husband coming home from work and pulling the rocker to the doorway of the kitchen. While she cooked he would sometimes read the newspaper aloud to her. "Sometimes our young son would crawl up in his lap and he would read to him." Her voice was dreamlike as she described the little boy's game. "He would sneak down and crawl away and my husband would pretend he didn't notice."
I could picture the young father with his exaggerated expression as he hunted down the hall for the missing boy. "He would act surprised when he found him, and bring him back to his chair." She said this happened over and over and every time the young son returned to his father's lap, his smile got bigger. He had fooled his daddy.
What Did I Learn?
Aware of the Chair? This theme has made me more aware of the chairs I use daily. Right now, the one I'm seated in while I write this... needs a better cushion!
For 20+ years children have called it the Magic Quilt. They've danced and pretended all over these colorful squares. I've dragged it to schools, shelters and studios where children have climbed on top to hear Magic Quilt Stories and to act them out.