Saturday, May 26, 2012

Memorial Day 2012, Stiffel Lamps, and More Memories

On Memorial Day, it is appropriate for us to remember those who died in the service of our country.  I would say it would be a good time to also thank those who have not died, but have served our country in the Armed Forces of the United States.  Your service is appreciated, at least by me.


I never have been very good at flag pictures, for some reason they elude me.  Here are my attempts, though.  Beautiful day here in Houston!







Mother came to see me again yesterday and today in the form of her rose.  I have a table and lamp that belonged to her; she was very proud of the lamp, it was a Stiffel (which meant something to ladies of her age; I like them because they are high quality and well-designed). 

So here’s Mother’s rose and her lamp:

Mom 2

Mom 1

Yes, that is a pilsner glass.  I don’t drink much beer any more (gluten), and I threw all the bud vases away when I moved.

Re:  Stiffel lamps.

It’s always more fun when you find a bargain.  I knew the Stiffel Company had gone out of business, and I knew the things were expensive to start with.  I had no idea they had become “collectibles”, and I had no idea of the PRICES they command now.

There’s a Goodwill store up the street from me.  When I can, I like to patronize them because they do a good service and are generally regarded as a “decent” charity. 

Having broken several of my cereal/soup bowls (only 3 left…), I’ve been on a hunt for some new ones.  Yes, I could order them or go buy them new some place, but where’s the fun in that?  So, I’ve been periodically hitting the Goodwill store, hoping to find the perfect bowls (I like ‘em big and deep, not quite Jethro Bodine big, but big nonetheless). 

So I was perusing the Goodwill yesterday, and wandered back to the back of the store.  I had found a couple of pyrex mixing bowls for $1 each (always useful) (but no cereal bowls Sad smile

I kept coming back to this lamp.  I don’t need any more lamps, I have plenty.  Still, I kept looking at this particular one (it was so big it was on the floor, though it is a table lamp).  The more I looked, the more I thought, “No, that couldn’t possibly be…”.  Looked into the top of it and there was the small brass plate, proudly proclaiming “Stiffel”.  Price tag (put on with the HUGE Scotch packing tape) was $35, but it had an “X” through it.  Picked it up (Stiffels are heavy, heavy, and this thing was huge) and took it to the front.  “Does it work?”  I asked.  Shalondra (we know that is her name, it was on her name badge and she knows me at this point) plugged it in and sure  enough, it lit right up.

I asked her why the “X” through the price.  “Oh, that means it’s on sale.  It’s half off.”

So I brought home a beautiful 4 foot tall, 35 lb. Stiffel lamp for $17.50

I love a bargain! 


I looked it up.  It retailed for $399 new (Clayton Marcus sofas were $500!).  Restored (there is some slight pitting and discoloration, nothing serious but it needs to be restored before it gets worse) I could probably get more than that for it now on ebay.  My heirs will have to do that…

If you’re wondering about the chairs—the one  the left was my grandmother’s; I had it reupholstered here in Houston.  The green velvet one has a more chequered past—I was about 14 or 15 and discovered garage sales.  My Dad had not wanted me to have a TV in my room; I bought a Sony 13” portable black and white TV at a garage sale for $5.  He could have been a jerk about it, but he really couldn’t say much when I bought it with my own cash.  The green chair was another garage sale find, same time period.  It was upholstered in black needlepoint with bouquets of flowers.  The wood had been painted white and “antiqued” black.  It was hideous.  I loved it.  Paid $5 for it, too.  Dragged it home and put it in my room (ok, I swiped the station wagon for 5 minutes and went and got it before Mother noticed her car missing; it was just around the corner).  I sat in that chair for many hours watching my Sony TV. 

When we moved into our new house in Windcrest, I came home from school one day to find my chair—gone!  Foul play! 

Mother swiped it.  She had inherited the blue one in the pictures above from my grandmother (it had the original 1926 upholstery, tattered).  She took them both and had them reupholstered as you see, put them in her living room (with the new Stiffel lamps, Henredon tables, and soft lemon yellow Clayton Marcus sofa), and promptly forbade anyone from going in the room.  (In a small—very small—defense of this madness, the room had GOLD SHAG carpet, which had to be RAKED if somebody walked across it).  She was crazy about her living room; she had wanted one forever (as opposed to a den with old beat-up furniture stained with 17 years of  grape juice, Coca-Cola, baby puke, dog puke, husband sweat, etc), and since she had very humble beginnings it was a status symbol for her to have a formal living room.

Nobody ever got to sit on that furniture while she was living at home, literally.  When she went to the nursing home, I got the furniture. 

Mom, I hate to break this to you, but I have taken a nap on your Clayton Marcus sofa.  I have set a drink on your Henredon table (I used a coaster!).  The velvet chairs are dry-rotting, and the guy you hired to do them made them terribly hard and uncomfortable (when I had them, they were hideous but soft and cushy). 

I sit in that room and listen to records on my Magnavox, drinking coffee in the morning or a martini at night, and enjoy all the things Mom would never let herself (or any of the rest of us) enjoy.

(…and I drink out of the crystal glasses, and eat occasionally off the Haviland china, using the silver, and I don’t have “guest” towels that are never meant to be used—I have nice towels that I use every day…and I don’t want carpet anywhere in my home; it’s gross.  I’m going to rip out the carpet that’s in the bedrooms and stain the concrete and live on it).


Random flowers blooming today:

Hot Pink 1

Peach 1

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