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Monday, November 8, 2021

The dining room table tells a story of memories


My prized possession is an old drop-side dining room table. It sits at the end of our 16-foot picnic table on the dining porch, ready to serve as backup should we get a sudden boost in numbers. Over the years it has acted as the dessert table at Thanksgiving dinner, a table for all my tropical plants in the sunroom, and it sat at the end of the hall and displayed family photos. I have often said, in case of fire, grab my photo albums and my drop-side table.

I remember my Dad bringing the little round table to me at my apartment on Prescott Street when I was a newly single mom of 3 back in 2000. I said, “That’s it??” In my recollection, that table was HUGE. But inanimate objects do tend to loom large in our childhood memories.

My first memory of the table was my view of it from my seat at a tiny pink child-sized Formica table. If I stood on my toes, I could just barely peer over the edge of it to see what the adults were eating. The table has a drawer at one end where I often hid toys and treats that would be rediscovered months later. Mom can’t remember where she got the table for their first apartment as a married couple, but she does remember painting it 1960s turquoise to match the flowered wallpaper in her new kitchen in their first house on George.

As my sister and I grew up we eventually took our seats at the round table, and then one day our family outgrew it. The table went into storage. Years later, Dad decided to present me with the table that he had recently refinished. The top of the table had been repaired over the years with plastic paint but when he stripped the turquoise off the legs he revealed the original tiger-striped wooden spindles. If you look closely, you can still see tiny flecks of turquoise paint in the curves. My childhood memories are stored there.

In my farmhouse kitchen stands a well-used oval dining table on 2 sturdy pedestal legs. It has suffered a few water stains that I have managed to remove but our Chinese students made a heat mark with their rice cooker one day and that left a permanent scar. Occasionally a cat will get up there to investigate in the night, leaving behind a claw scrape. Every week I polish these imperfections and wonder if my grandchildren are developing their own fond memories of a table that has gathered and fed us food, fellowship and love.