Thursday, July 19, 2012


Blog buddy Stephen had an interesting encounter with an armoire. Which of course reminded me of a curious piece of furniture of my own. Because everything is all about me, remember?

Shortly after moving into the House That Hick Built, we saw a need for a chest of drawers for Genius. He was about to turn three, and we decided that he was due for an upgrade of sorts from his baby furniture to something more mature. Besides, The Pony would make his grand entrance in three months, and would take over the baby furniture. Rather than invest in a matching bedroom set from a reputable furniture store, Hick decided that the toddler bed was fine for a while, and Genius merely needed some drawers for his clothing.

Hick never met a thrift store he didn't like. He had a string of establishments from Backroads to St. Louis that he frequented when he was in the neighborhood. He told me of a chest of drawers that he had spotted in Festus, down the street from the post office. One Saturday, we packed up our Ford Aerostar with toddler Genius, and headed north.

The store was filled with items that you might imagine in the attic of your elderly aunt. A dressmaker's dummy. Odd lamps. Musty chairs that may or may not have been upholstered in horsehide (hide your eyes, in utero Pony). Assorted ottomans. Busts of curly-haired men. Oval mirrors in wooden stands. Sideboards. A roll-top desk. Ornate magazine racks. I'll stop short of comparing it to an antique shop that might have been run by Barlow and Straker in 'Salem's Lot. But it definitely had an atmosphere.

Hick led me to the chest of drawers. It wasn't exactly children's furniture. But I could see a use for it. Hick bartered his way to an acceptable price and agreed to pick it up one day after work the next week.

The photo does not do justice to the wavy curvature of the drawers, but this is the actual chest. Not in the bedroom of toddler Genius, but in a later resting place, the basement of The House That Hick Built, which also acts as a sort of game room. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Because this piece of furniture seemed to have a personality of its own, I am going to call him Chester. Chester Drawers. He is composed of real wood. Not fiberboard. Not a veneer glued over plywood. The drawers are solid. Dovetailed, not nailed. If you pull out a drawer and look down on that curvy front edge, you can see three distinct layers that have been bent and pressed together. The front piece is about a half-inch thick, and the other two a quarter-inch each. I have no idea what kind of wood it is. Farmer H is gone to an auction at the moment, so I am lacking a consultant.

Toddler Genius paid no mind to Chester. What kid would? It's furniture. I heard him talking in his room one day. I hollered from the kitchen, "Who you talking to?"

"Oh, just Tony. That little boy I play with sometimes." I tried to act like that was perfectly normal. But the hair on the back of my neck stood up. Genius went back to his room and resumed playing.

I thought that maybe he just had an imaginary friend. At supper that night, I said, "How about some for Tony?"

Toddler Genius fixed me with a withering stare. "He's not HERE!" Like I was the crazy one. Seeing people who were not there. He never talked about Tony. Only to him. And only in his room. A few weeks later, he came out talking about George Henson.

"Who do you mean, George Henson? I don't know anybody with that name."

"You know, Mom. That bad guy that burned up all those people in that hotel."

"No, honey. I don't know about that." But you can bet I was going to find out. I asked around. Old people, the internet of the day. And since then, I've Googled and Googled. But I never found anything in the town history about George Henson, or a tragic hotel fire. At least with Tony, I had assumed he picked a familiar name, from the carpenter who framed our house, and had done work on the old house as well.

Toddler Genius refused to sleep in his room. I didn't put much stock in this. He had done the same thing at the old house, before Chester joined the family. I had hoped that he would like to sleep in his new room. Which was always cold. We moved in November. I asked Hick to adjust the vents, to get more heat to the bedroom of Genius, and less to some that didn't matter. Hick did. But that bedroom stayed cold. Even in summer, facing west, a double window letting in the heat. It was like the furnace couldn't heat it, but the air conditioner cooled it better. Again, Hick adjusted vents. But that room stayed at least five degrees colder than the rest of the house. Year round. Until we got Genius a little boy bed, and Hick rearranged the room, and decided that Chester Drawers did not fit.

We moved Chester to the basement, and the bedroom temperature became the same as the rest of the house. However...some funny things started to happen in the basement.

To be continued on Friday...


  1. It would seem that Chester is haunted ........

  2. Oooh, very Stephen King-ish! Know what's creepier?? Chester looks like he would match a piece of furniture I that also came from a thrift store. If Hick says it's made of tiger mahogany, I will get more chills. Wait, that could be good right now.

  3. What a cruel, black heart you have! To take us to the edge of the cliff and leave us there, teetering, on the brink.

    I am just going to have to go on the internet and do some research because I'm sure Chester is housing the spirit of a ghost. Perhaps you were compelled to name that piece of furniture "Chester" because the ghost's name is Chester? Maybe Chester had wavy hair?

    I'm going to google all night tonight. THANKS a lot!

  4. Spooky. Can't wait to hear the rest. Good cliff hanger.

  5. Is Chester in close proximity to your recliner? Waiting for the finale.

  6. Kathy,
    It took me a few years to make the connection.

    I know you may think he's a figment of my imagination...but Hick is working the concession stands at the Cardinals game tonight, so I can't ask him now that I thought of it. I have Googled Chester, and can't find anything exactly like him. But the pictures of serpentine mahogany chests are the closest match.

    What more could you expect from my cold, cold heart? Abandoning you on the precipice overlooking the abyss of anticipation is my style.

    Actually, at one time, in another place, I called him Chest O. Drawers. The spirit idea grew legs after I read a book I got for free called "Haunted Heartland," by Beth Scott and Michael Norman. There was a story about a table that emitted a knocking sound.

    Spooky? You ain't a-woofin, as my grandpa used to say.

    I give Chester a berth of 15 feet, though I would prefer it to be wider. At least a pool table separates us. Though he IS behind my recliner.