Worth the Wait

I have a dinner table! Courtesy of my amazingly talented father.

If you aren’t excited about this, it’s only because you don’t know the full story. This table has a been almost a year in the making. Actually, it’s been a lot longer than that…

Last summer my grandparents moved in with my aunt. Right before they moved, I went down to Virginia to visit them and my grandmother bequeathed her old sewing machine to me. It had been a fixture in the upstairs hallway for as long as I could remember and I’d always been completely taken with the beautiful wrought iron base.

Here was the dilemma: I have been blessed with a beautiful apartment here in Brooklyn, but it is still a New York apartment, meaning there isn’t space for purely decorative pieces. Everything has a place AND a purpose. Given that my sewing skills start and end with re-attaching buttons, an antique sewing machine wasn’t exactly a practical use of valuable square footage. What I really needed wasn’t a sewing machine, but a dining table.

My solution? Scrap the sewing machine and mount some wood on the base. Problem solved!

Sort of.

My dad was (understandably) less than enthusiastic about taking this family heirloom apart. You see, my great-great-grandfather, Leonard, had purchased the sewing machine (base included) for his wife, Indie, in the early 1920s. She passed it down to her daughter, my grandfather’s aunt, Dorothy Logan Britt. In the 1950s, Dorothy upgraded to a newer, electric model and sold her old machine to my grandmother (her niece-in-law). My grandmother used it through the 1960s when she herself upgraded to a newer machine and retired this model to the upstairs hallway where it remained until last summer.

It took some pleading on my part, but I won out in the end. I mean, is there any father out there who can really say no to his baby girl? He had only one condition: he got to select the wood. I couldn’t have care less about the wood (pine? Cherry? Walnut? What’s the difference?) and was just happy he was going to do it.

The wood he selected is a beautiful dark walnut that he’d been saving for a special project. The tree in question was felled from the Farm by my great-grandfather, Benjamin, back in the late 1940s/early 1950s and was cut into lumber by my great-uncle, Ernest (my grandmother’s brother).

My dad crafted the table with drop-leaf sides to make it apartment friendly and my mom sanded and sealed it. It perfectly complements the coat tree I inherited. Like the walnut for the table, the coat tree dates back to my great-grandfather Benjamin.

It’s pretty cool living in the midst of all this history.


15 May 2012. That's Life.


  1. Aunt Jeanette replied:

    Table is beautiful!

    • Becca replied:

      Isn’t it? Dad did an incredible job. I’ll send pictures down with him next time he comes so Grandmom and Granddad can see how it turned out.

  2. Don Wells replied:

    Becca, All you had to do was ask and your Dad complied. I bet he even delivered it to Brooklyn! If my Dad sawed the lumber it would have been in the 1950’s as he got the sawmill around 1952. His name is Ernest F. Wells, no “a”. Don

    • Becca replied:

      Hi Don, Thanks for the spelling correction and the info about when the lumber would have been sawed. I updated the post. I love that it has so much family history! Hope you enjoyed the photos.

  3. Writer’s Block « Pray. Eat. Run. Write. replied:

    […] then left the cupcakes on my beautiful table when I headed out to the picnic. It was just one of those days! The picnic was a lot of fun, but it […]

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