09 Oct 2013

A Centre County Foot

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We’re planning to spend the winter at our Pennsylvania farm, something we’ve never previously done in the quarter century that we’ve owned the place.

I’ve been frequenting farm auctions recently trying to find a cheap, but useable tractor. Last Saturday, at one of these, I picked up a 1994 Ford F-250 pickup with a snowplow. We have more than a hundred yards of driveway, and I’ve been worrying about getting marooned.

At the same auction, I could not resist buying an ancient, paneled and red-painted stepback kitchen cupboard. It was in ruinous condition, missing a piece of crown molding and several drawers. It had been sitting in the farmer’s barn, demoted from the place of honor in the farmhouse kitchen generations ago, and consigned to the mercies of the mice.

Its two pieces were still massive and when it was about to be knocked down for $80, I bid $90 and bought it myself. Karen was shaking her head at me, but I told her for that price I’d be glad to put in my own barn and store tools in it.

Someday, if I find the right furniture restorer, I might have the missing bits replaced and rehabilitate it. It certainly merits it. The auctioneer, trying to drum up some more bidding, reproached the crowd for its lack of interest, describing it as the “real article” and mentioning that it has “a Centre County foot.”

If I can get Karen to take a picture, I’ll put one up sometime.

Why are we moved by antique country furniture? The best answer I know is given in the moving 1981 cartoon Crac! by the Québécois director Frédéric Back. Just picture Pennsylvania Germans instead of Québéc French and a huge kitchen cupboard instead of a rocking chair.


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