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Chess Table
By Christine (Minerd) Smith

The author is the granddaughter of Ernest E. Minerd. Read her other memoirs.

She structured her walk to pass the fancy furniture store, Davis and Shaw. It was a little out of her way from the bus station to the college campus, but so uplifting to pause and investigate the exquisite displays in the storefront windows.  Her favorite was the wooden end table with an inlaid chess board.  Money was never in abundance, so she knew she could not afford anything in this store, but desire worked on her mind and she finally talked herself into one small indulgence.

I can get that chess table.  I'll work it out so I can afford it.  It's probably one hundred and fifty dollars, but it's important to me.  I'll pay top dollar!  I'll even pay two hundred dollars for it.

One fine morning she took the earlier bus to have enough time to stop at the store before class.  She held her head high as she entered the store.  The friendly clerk greeted her.

"Good morning.  How can I help you?"

"I'm interested in the chess table you had in the window.  I noticed it's not there today.  Has it been moved?"

"Oh, the little end table with the inlaid board?  That's been sold.  I could look it up in the book and order one for you."

"Yes, please."

"Let's see, I think it's a Thomasville brand.  Here it is.  The price is one thousand five hundred dollars."

Her mind began racing:  a car can cost that much money.

"Oh, thank you.  I think I don't really want to order one today.  Thank you for your help."

She realized she was holding in her breath as she left the store.  That was a close one.  I guess I am not to have that chess table.

The episode entered her set of favorite stories to tell.  When her niece came to town for a visit, she pointed out the store to her and recounted her close call with unimaginable debt for a small, but nice, piece of furniture.  Life progressed, she graduated from her classes and the furniture store went out of business and the building was demolished.  The only memory left was the joke of "I'll pay top dollar!"

Then one day the phone rang.  The niece had unexpected news.  Her girlfriend's grandfather had recently deceased.  The niece was with her friend and the friend's father when they stopped by the estate.  The father said, "All of this stuff will be put up for sale next week.  Look through it and if there's anything you would like to have, it's yours."  Her eyes fell on a homemade chess table.  It was made from dark wood as a folding table with collapsible legs.  Highly varnished, the beauty of the wood shone through, and in its center was an inlaid chess board.  The niece was calling her aunt to say she had a chess table now at her home and the next time the aunt visited she could fit it into the trunk of her car and give it a loving home.

Which she did.  The table serves as a piece of art when the legs are folded and it rests against the wall.  Otherwise, it is handy for writing letters or hosting as an overflow table for  parties.  And as a chess table?  It is superior to its far more costly cousin.  The expensive chess table top was only as big as the board.  The homemade version has extra space around the edges to hold captured pieces, enhancing the pleasure of the game.

Copyright 2009 Christine (Minerd) Smith. Published with permission.