You Never Know Where or When Grandpa’s Inlay Might Turn Up (Part 2)

One of Grandpa’s cedar chests comes home . . .

I mentioned here about the pleasant surprise of receiving one of Grandpa’s wall hangings that he, unbeknownst to us, had gifted to a friend years ago.

Awhile back, I received a rather interesting text on my business phone. Someone was claiming to have picked up one of Grandpa’s inlay cedar chests at an auction in Indiana and was wondering if I was interested in it. I called the person back and over the course of the conversation, I realized that they were expecting to be paid for the chest. I told them I needed to think about it and promised to contact him later on the week.

Now these cedar chests that Grandpa made are pretty special. He made one for his children and one for each of his grandchildren (see photo below) as well as the spouses of his grandchildren as we got married.

He made cedar chests for other relatives and sold a number of them as well. In fact, when Grandpa passed away he had six cedar chests that needed to be finished. Because I had worked with Grandpa, my aunts asked if I would come up to New York and finish the chests that Grandpa started.

It was a bittersweet time, being in Grandpa’s shop so soon after his passing. But I was honored to be able to use the skills I had learned from him in order to complete his final project. I am sure the recipients of those chests were grateful to have something to remember Grandpa by.

I called the inquirer back and told him I would purchase the cedar chest from him. His response was a pleasant surprise. He said that his offer to sell had been a test to see how much I valued the chest as a family heirloom and remembrance of my grandpa. He would not sell it to me. He would give it to me! He asked for my address, paid for shipping, and in a few days, I held one of my grandpa’s treasures in my hand.

In appreciation, I made an inlay cross and shipped to him. He was touched. He sent me a picture of the cross hanging on his wall at home, where, as he said, it will stay until the day he dies.

These kind of connections are what make this work so amazing. To have strangers recognize the beauty of this generational woodcraft and respond in kindness and joy so much so that they become friends is something truly remarkable. My heart is warmed every time I think of the many people who we have had the privilege to get to know because of this work. My heart is warmed every time I open grandpa’s cedar chest.

Thanks again, Gene.

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