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I’ve searched high and low, through stacks and stacks of photos, but I haven’t been able to find a picture of the “throne.” It’s a shame because it was one piece of my father’s handiwork that perfectly captured his artistry, ingenuity and attitude. It was a masterpiece of design and functionality that remained a source of entertainment from the time it was built until high water floated it away forever.
The throne was born one Saturday morning back in 1983. I remember because Brad Guilford and I took the day off from bagging groceries and went fishing. We had paddled a couple hundred yards from the camp, but we were still close enough that we heard Daddy drive up.
As soon as he shut the motor off, we started hearing beating and banging from his direction. There was the growl of the chainsaw, a tree falling, hammering, dragging, more chainsaw, and more hammering.
It was a hot morning and Brad, being a considerate soul, suggested that we go see if Daddy needed any help with whatever he was doing.
“What good could possibly come of that?” I asked. Brad knew my father well and couldn’t come up with a good answer. But the heat was getting to me as much as the guilt was getting to him and eventually we made our way back to the camp.
We were greeted by a sight that’s hard to describe with mere words.
There before us was Daddy standing beside an oak stump about two feet tall and maybe 18 inches in diameter. Nailed to the back was a two-by-twelve that rose a couple of feet above the top of the stump. On both sides were short, upright two-by-fours supporting flat, perpendicular one-by-fours.
Being familiar with Daddy’s carpentry and his priorities, I already knew what I was looking at. Brad, on the other hand, was at a loss.
“What in the world is that?” he asked.
Daddy was a bit offended. “Can’t you see it’s a chair?”
As he spoke, he attempted to give his creation a trial run, but he got stopped abruptly in mid-sit.
Despite having almost everything else in the world in his truck, the one thing Daddy never carried was a measuring tape. If he had, he would have realized that he didn’t leave quite enough space between the two armrests.
After some effort, he managed to contort himself into the chair while Brad and I tried not to laugh. (We failed.)
Daddy didn’t say a word. Instead, he wriggled free from the contraption and gave us a firsthand lesson on how to improvise, adapt and overcome.
He went back to the truck, came back with his chainsaw and cut an arc out of the inside of each armrest. This time he sat down with no trouble, crossed his legs and pronounced his creation perfectly comfortable.
It was a triumphant moment, but for all the years that chair stayed at the camp, that was the last time I ever saw him actually sit in it. Mostly it just served as a fun conversation piece for the rest of its days.
I like to think the throne is now down at the bottom of the slough with fish swimming all around it.
I also imagine them asking each other, “What in the world is that?”