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Cherished memories made around simple oak table

A lot of living happens around tables. Be it in the kitchen, dining room, living room, or any other room, tables are more than an item of furniture. Arelene Wener discusses.

The round oak table wasn’t just a piece of furniture. It was much more than that. It was approximately 36” in diameter, with a big, thick, round, pedestal base and four huge support feet protruding from the center with a gentle curve as they made their way to the floor. Under each, was a metal caster to protect the floor.

Oak Table Empowers

I can remember this table from as far back into my childhood as my memory allows. It was a gathering place for all of our meals, including holidays and birthdays.

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My grandma, who lived with us, would make apple potica and roll out and stretch the paper-thin dough until it hung over the sides of the table like a tablecloth. I would watch in amazement!

After visiting Pismo Beach, California, we would bring home fresh clams. My mom would put a huge pot of steamed clams in the middle of the table and we would enjoy our feast. We had our steamed artichoke feasts here, as well.

Home and Hearth

The table served as a gathering spot for visits from neighbors and relatives. They played cards there and shared stories from their past and current events.

Around the table is where I learned from my mom and grandma, how to embroider pillow cases, dresser scarves and table cloths. My grandma taught me how to crochet while sitting at this table and sharing tales of her childhood. Neighbor ladies would come over for coffee and bring their sewing, too.

My mom used this table as a place for my cousins and me to make many different crafts that kept us occupied. We had such fun making things with our hands. No electronic games or internet, back then.

Preserving Table Top and Memories

Several years later, my dad decided to put a laminate top on the table and around the 3” drop on the sides. This made the table much easier to clean, although it likely ruined the vintage value of the table.

I did my homework at this table for all the years of my schooling through high school. My mom used it every morning to put on her make-up, while having her cup of coffee. She had a make-up mirror propped up and her supplies neatly laid out. I suppose I learned how to apply make-up there, as well.

From the time I was in junior high and through high school, my grandma, now living on her own, would come over to our house to visit. She would pay me 50 cents to set her hair in pin curls while sitting at the round, oak table. We would pass the time recounting her life growing up in Bisbee, Arizona, her time spent at my great-grandma’s ranch in Santa Cruz, California, and many other interesting things about her life.

Enhancing a Cherished Table

When I was in junior high, mom and dad bought four maple captain’s chairs to go around the

Table Scraps_Saturday Evening Post

"Table Scraps," Saturday Evening Post Cover, December 15, 1923. (Photo courtesy

table. The table and chairs moved with us to every house we lived in, building more memories.

On weekends, it was for BBQ dinners and Canasta card games.

When I was grown and had a family, my husband and I would visit with mom and dad at the table, while the grandchildren played nearby.

After my mom passed away and my dad moved to assisted living, the table and chairs became mine. The item that carried all of those precious memories was now in my possession, but nowhere to put it except in our garage. I spent some time sitting at the table in the garage while taking a break or working on a small project.

Giving Others the Chance to Make Memories

It was decided that another family should have it, as they needed a table and chairs. With tears in my eyes, I reluctantly let it go. But no one can take the precious gift of memories from me.

I hope that the new family is making their own wonderful memories at the round oak table.
I thank my mom, dad and grandma and all of the friends, neighbors and relatives for the memories that they made at a simple oak table that was passed on to me.

~ Arlene (Ayres) Werner

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