Once Upon a Chair

Vol. XIX No. 2 - SUMMER 2008

The special exhibit, Once Upon a Chair, ran at both the Edgewater Historical Society Museum and the North Lakeside Cultural Center from April 30 to June 7. Thanks to all those who shared their chairs and their stories with us. Those at the North Lakeside Cultural Center were LeRoy Blommaert, Leslie Contos, Walter Fydryck, Kathy Gemperle, T. Griff, Donna Gulley, Fletcher Hayes, J-R Quality, Don Lynch, Judith Pyrcz, Andrea Raila, Betty Rothfus, Tina Marie Rucker and Nancy Schroeder. The exhibit was spread out in three rooms – one for old elegance, one for arts and one for special histories.

The exhibit at the Edgewater Historical Society was much smaller due to space and featured smaller chairs. Those shown there were loaned by Kathy Gemperle, Sarah Overton, Andrea Raila, Sandee Remis, Bob Remer and Nancy Schroeder.

A special part of the exhibit was the graphic designs presented by Adrienne Sioux Koopersmith. Just listing all the names of chairs put the show into a different context beyond all the memories that a chair can evoke. Thanks, Adrienne.

Thanks also to the North Lakeside Cultural Center, Helen Murtaugh and Bonnie Tipton Long. Thanks to the three people who pitched in to set up the show, Betty Rothfus, Leslie Contos and Larry Ebert. Thanks to Betty Mayian for getting the word out about the exhibit.

We enjoyed the exhibit so much that we are planning to present the exhibit on-line sometime soon. Just to give you a flavor of the exhibit, we have included one chair and its write up. Betty Rothfus is the author and her story is part of our community history. Here’s what she wrote:

My father was a short man. But he always seemed tall to me when I was a child. Shortly after immigrating to Chicago from a small village in the Black Forest of German, he opened a grocery store (Karl’s Food Shop) on Balmoral Avenue just a few doors west of Broadway. The store served the neighborhood for decades, closing in 1968. His was a “Mom and Pop” store, where the neighborhood children stopped in to buy penny candy, and neighbors to talk to him and my mother.

This was the chair he sat in doing his paperwork at his wooden roll-top desk in the back of the store. For a most unusual reason this chair has a “special” place in my mind.

Before Christmas he would stock eggnog. One afternoon he asked me to sit down in his chair and enjoy this drink that he loved so much. All I remember as a little girl, sitting in this metal swivel chair, was trying very, very hard to swallow this awful tasting liquid while he stood over me saying “See, isn’t it wonderful?”

To this day I cannot drink eggnog. His chair has been “living” in my basement for the past 40 years.