The Soul of the Antique Table

 Marvin and Joanne Lewis' lovely farm table.

Marvin and Joanne Lewis' lovely farm table.

On Saturday, I told you about meeting Marvin and Joanne Lewis and touring their beautiful 1936 home. Joanne wrote a keepsake story about a wooden bird figurine. Marvin chose to write about a spectacular antique table. 

I love antiques. When I have extra time, I browse the contents of local antique stores. I touch the items and ponder the utility of each. I wonder about the owners. I often contemplate how an item came to rest on the floor or shelf of the antique shop. Finding certain family treasures—photo albums, rosary beads, wedding gowns—troubles me. I think, "Surely there was someone in the family who found value in this item. Surely."

When I read Marvin Lewis' story about his antique farm table, I realized that I was not alone in my musings. He, too, wonders about the histories and origins of the antiques he and his wife purchase and place in the rooms of their home.

"The Farm Table" starts on page 216. Here's an excerpt.

The oldest member of our family arrived in December of 2011. The simple draw-leaf farm table was crafted from a cherry tree that witnessed the French Revolution, perhaps by an aging revolutionary. It easily serves twelve—more when women and children are included. The worms that inscribed the leaves over the years possessed an art form belonging only to them.

Its history intrigues me. I often wonder what this table has witnessed. The political unrest and frequent change of the 1800s, an artistic revolution, and a cholera epidemic were certainly part of its history. But what else? I wonder what persons—famous or not—may have shared a meal or a bottle of wine over its surface.

Within the family, what transpired over nearly two hundred years? Over the five, six, or seven generations? Was there a mother who died in childbirth? A young bride who inherited a family older than she? It’s experienced the birth and death of generation after generation. What kind of lives did they lead? Simple? Heroic? Did the families struggle to survive or enjoy prosperity?

How many people shared a feast or just managed to survive while discussing their hopes and dreams, sorrows and tribulations around this table?

Our table witnessed two world wars. Were family members wounded or killed? Did occupying troops feast at this table? Or perhaps it was the liberators—our brave, scared, tired, heroic, frightened young Americans. Was a Jewish family shielded from the concentration camps and near-certain death? Or, was the patriarch a German collaborator?
— Marvin Lewis, "The Farm Table" from Project Keepsake

Marvin and I share a questioning nature. Perhaps it's because we are both graduates of Georgia Tech. Go Jackets!

Thank you for sharing your story, Marvin. It's one of my favorites in the collection.