"The Chair" by Neal Murphy

January 9, 2020 - All of us who have reared children know that it is difficult for the kids to keep their mouths shut, especially about things that go on inside the home.  I was a good example of that when I was around nine years old. I still recall the incident as though it happened only yesterday.

In 1945 my parents’ furniture in their newly constructed home was rather modest. They had a dinette set that was probably a “hand down” from my grandparents. It was old and worn, constructed of wood. The straight-back chairs were rather unsteady as I recall. All of these facts taken together set up the episode of which I now write.

One morning at breakfast, my father came to the table, pulled out his favorite chair and sat down. Suddenly, the wood cracked and the chair collapsed with him in it. He hit the kitchen floor with a thud. Uncharacteristically, for my father, he said a few choice words then picked up the broken chair and threw it out the back door. This event had an impact on my nine year old brain.

Upon arriving at school the first thing I told my third grade teacher, Mrs. Georgia Mathews, was that I had something important to tell her. She sat down at her desk and said, “OK, what do you want to tell me?” I swallowed hard then blurted out, “Well, my dad got mad at my mother this morning, broke a chair, and threw it out into the yard.” Only part of the story was accurate, as is usually the case.

I felt much better telling someone what I had witnessed. Well, things have a way of correcting themselves in a small town. My mother owned a beauty shop and as luck would have it, Mrs. Mathews was a customer. In fact, she had an appointment that very afternoon. Of course, my mother and my teacher both had a good laugh as the real facts of the incident were revealed.

Now, suppose that were to happen today? I suspect that Child Protective Services would be called, an investigation launched, and my father might have been charged with child abuse. My, have times changed. Personally, I liked the old days better.