It is an ordinary pedestal dining room table with four caster chairs that we bought 40 years ago at a catfish restaurant in High Falls.
We needed a table and Ed, the chief cook, dishwasher and owner of the place had a new one he did not need. It is 42 inches in diameter and has a 16-inch leaf that we used before everyone left home. After a little dickering, Ed agreed for his son Hardy to follow us back to Macon with the furniture in an old pickup.
The dickering was necessary at that time because our family transportation was a 1966 Volkswagen Beetle. Interstate 75 had opened three years earlier, and Hardy followed close behind with the table and chairs in his dad’s truck because we were on unfamiliar ground.
By 9 p.m. that night the table was assembled and Hardy on his way home to help close up the restaurant..
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My wife is a great Southern cook and has served tons of fresh vegetables, meats and desserts on the table these four decades. She had the magic of teaching grade school, and serving a hot meal fit for a king on the table at six o’clock. Pick-up burgers and fries and finger-licking chicken with sides were almost never served on our dinner table. Snacks of chips and cookies have always been scarce there.
After dinner the three kids would finish homework at the table, and as the years wandered into decades their children sometimes did the same thing. Family budgets and April income taxes were done at the table, and many a laugh and tear fell upon it. College applications, vacations, weddings and funerals were planned there, too.
It would take an auditorium to seat all the friends, neighbors. suitors and family who visited our table, and some of them left for eternity years ago.
There are scars in the wood, but not many. A cut happened once when a young man demonstrated his handiness with a wood carving knife and a hard piece of oak. A chip on the edge happened when I open a stubborn can of buttermilk biscuits, and the reasons for other scratches are lost in time.
In 1973, we sat at the table and watched 18 inches of snow fall into the yard. Years later, we sat there while two nervous young men asked for the hands of our two daughters. In 1999 when we moved, the table moved also.
This morning our two great-granddaughters sat at the table with us. One enjoyed a bowl of fruit and her infant cousin a bottle of its mother’s milk
For some reason, we bought a new dining room set recently and expect delivery in a few days. It’s handsome furniture, and I know we will enjoy it for a long time.
But what to do with the old table and chairs that is weighted with so many memories? Sell it or give it to charity? Store it away for another generation to dispose in the future? Bury it with an appopriate marker?
What do we do with it?
John G. Kelley Jr., is a resident of Macon.