Although this picture is slighted blurred, it is still a good picture of the old comfortable chair in the formal living room of the old Mabey Homestead, where I grew up in old Lincoln Park.
The Old Comfortable Chair
By Richard Mabey Jr.
In late June of 1972, I finished my first year of college. It was the start of a rough summer for me. For it was in late June that Penny and I broke up. I was devastated. For me, it was the summer of healing.
I grew up in the old Mabey Homestead, that my great grandfather William Mabey had built in 1880. There were two living rooms in the home. As you walked in the front door, the living room to the left hand side was the “TV room.” The living room to the right, we used to call the “formal living room.”
There was this wonderful, comfortable, old chair in a corner of the old formal living room. It looked out to the front yard, looking out to old Route 202. I don’t think that I’ve sat in a chair that was more comfortable. It’s covering had these wonderful old Americana pictures on it, including the old Liberty Bell. Plain and simple, it was just a wonderful old chair, one of my favorite memories of the old Mabey Homestead.
It was the summer of 1972 that I read John Steinbeck’s novel, The Grapes of Wrath. The journey of reading those 619 pages provided comfort to my broken heart. It was to be a novel that was to profoundly effect me.
The very book that I read had been printed in March of 1940. A rather rare book because the first edition of The Grapes of Wrath was printed in April of 1939. I loved the feel of that old book. There was a kind of smell to that book, like an old cellar. I know this may sound strange, but it was kind of a comfort to me. I still have that very book. It is among my most cherished books.
The summer of 1972, was the summer that I worked full time at a local grocery store, in the Frozen Food Department. On my days off, I would enjoy the quiet solitude of sitting in the old comfortable chair in the formal living room reading John Steinbeck’s great novel. I remember very well that I had to work weekends at the grocery store, in order to keep my job, so I got two days a week off from work. I remember that they were generally Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
There is something about old books. Most of the time, the letter e is filled in with ink in the open areas. There is the musty fragrance. There is the tinted, yellowed margins of the pages. There is just something about holding the spine of a book, a feeling that no computer book could ever fill.
My dog, Sunday, would sit by my chair. I would take time from reading my book to play ball with Sunday. She was such a wonderful collie. I still miss her very much. In many ways, I think she knew I was broken hearted over breaking up with Penny. I know it sounds crazy, but I think Sunday missed Penny too. Sunday was very fond of her.
One thing that I learned that summer, life goes on. In September of 1972, I was destined to meet a wonderful girl, from my college, who would have a profound effect upon my life. But, at the time, I didn’t know that. And, during the summer of 1972, I filled the long hours of my days off from work, reading The Grapes of Wrath. Yes, at times, life gets tough.