The Best Stories Are Our “Shabby Chic” Belongings

Dear Reader:

The idea behind this blog came about, indirectly, from a sign that was put up at the entrance to my neighborhood a couple of days ago. I was stopped at the stop sign I (at the end of the street) waiting to pull out and I happened to glance at the sign.

It caught my attention because I couldn’t figure out what it was trying to say initially. I know retired teachers can still be a pain when it comes to reading, writing, and for me spelling…but this was too funny.

The sign read…E  State Sale. I kept saying it over and over in my mind until bingo! Someone was having an Estate Sale. I thought to myself…well…at least they broke it down and it would have worked if it wasn’t written as two separate words.

When mother died I, too had an estate sale.…Lassie helped me get the furniture priced and cleaned…ready for customers. She did a terrific job I remember.

The “shabby chic” chair in the title photo was one piece of furniture I knew I should keep…because of the history of it belonging to some great aunts who had passed it down to mother and her sister…and they passed it down to me.

Every time someone would casually mention that they knew someone who could re-cover the chair…I always fell back on the same response…”You know I thought about it…but one lesson I have learned from the Antique Show…is that you should never re-cover anything…it loses it value.” 

It sounded good but we all know I just didn’t have any extra money around to pay for it.

As the years went by…it became Ruthie the doll’s chair… except for the weeks around Christmas when she is my angel atop the tip top of my Christmas tree.

As long as I am around she will continue to be my Christmas angel each year in honor of my friend, Gloria Houston, who wrote the favorite  children’s Christmas story: The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree. We became friends through Honey and later Brooke taking me to invited Houston celebrations and birthdays… and remained corresponding buddies until her untimely death… due to a rare cancer a few years ago.

So when I came across this Christmas memory by Archibald Rutledge, owner of Hampton Plantation, I understood exactly how Archie’s father felt in this sweet memory of Christmases past.

Francis Marion and the Ebony Chippendale Armchair

Growing up at Hampton Plantation there were always mysteries about the house that Archie couldn’t understand…one of these was a broken ebony Chippendale armchair located near the massive fireplace. For as long as Archie could remember…the left arm of the chair was kept in the closet of the living room.

When Archie asked about it…his father explained that at one time Hampton Plantation had served as headquarters for the famous guerrilla fighter and revolutionary hero, Francis Marion…the “Swamp Fox.”

“After one of General Marion’s exhausting forays, he fell asleep in that very chair when Redcoat commander Tarleton surprised him. Startled he jumped up breaking the arm off the chair.”

“Did Tarleton get him” Archie asked.

“Oh no..the colonel smiled…Marion used the secret passageway that led to the back of the house, jumped on his horse, swam the river, and escaped into the wilds of the Santee Delta.”

After a moment little Archie asked (still puzzled)…”Well Dad that is interesting and all…but what does it have to do with you fixing the arm on the chair.”

“Oh,” the father answered, “I always thought it would be sacrilegious to repair what General Marion had broken.”


So until tomorrow…Mr. Rutledge had his story and I have mine.:)

What a week…it started last Saturday with the finger-gnawing Clemson-Boston College Football game….with a new quarterback…and an historical come-back …overcoming a large deficit to win the game.

Then before I could recover from that experience…the election…almost a week of more “political close games” and now the most important game of the season…still with the “new” quarterback (We love you D. J.!)…Clemson vs Notre Dame.

I am about at the point of crying out….”Stop! Have mercy…there is only so much a human can take.” Yet deep down…I know I will take it…and life will continue…hopefully more peacefully and serenely…only time will tell. Deep breath…release…and a nod at God.

“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

*** This post was written Saturday morning for Sunday’s post since I will be in Mt. Pleasant babysitting and won’t be back until today-Sunday. So you will know how the game went by the time you are reading this and I will too…

No matter how it ended…I am always proud of my beloved Clemson team. Go Tigers! I love you!


About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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