A very different piece of furniture from the oaken antique featured in my previous post, this humble kitchen stool is no less treasured as an heirloom. Possibly made by my Dad – and certainly re-covered by him at least once, with this classic 1960s vinyl – it was a constant presence in my childhood, and evokes many memories for me. As tiny children, my best friend Briony and I were often treated to “balloon rides” in it when Dad, simply by upending it, magically transformed the stool into the basket of a hot air balloon in which we were whooshed joyfully up into the air. I imagine this stool to be very similar to the one, mentioned in his memoirs, which his own father turned into a makeshift crib for the few short days of Dad’s infant triplet sisters’ lives. Another poignant reminder of how much easier my childhood was than his own.
The stool holds other memories for me, too: I still have a small scar on my thigh from the time a sharp tack caught me as I scrambled down from it one day, eager to run outside and play. As the smallest in our family of 5, I was often the one perching on this stool in a corner, as there were only 4 dining chairs to go round. This was mostly in the upstairs kitchen: as I’ve written elsewhere, until I was 12 we lived in half of our house and let out the rest, moving between floors a couple of times. When I was about 8 we moved from downstairs to upstairs, where dad’s ingenuity enabled us all to eat together in the small kitchen by fitting a tiny table top into the alcove, next to the kitchen table. This became my special corner for mealtimes, and I loved it. Dad’s tabletop was beautifully made, even by his standards, and it became a family joke that at every mealtime he would admire the neat handiwork of his smoothed down corners and say, “Good job that.” My brothers and I still use those words whenever we admire a piece of good craftsmanship.
That tabletop is long gone (as is the house, sadly), so I am very glad to have this rickety old kitchen stool to remind me of all those happy family mealtimes. You can see by the paint stains that it has been used in many a decorating job, and, most recently, to hold a heavy plant pot. These days I am rather too heavy myself to use it for its original intended purpose, but it is staying in my home for these purely sentimental reasons!