Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.
I came across this poem because it was used in an article in the daily newspaper. I really like it and it is so true in its meaning. It is by Langston Hughes. In my last article titled Our Own Walk On The Moon, I said to always still hope that your day dreams will come true real soon. Keep on believing in them.
I had a hair stylist who about twenty years ago won ten million in the lottery. She played for four years the same numbers each week and one week she won. Her whole life changed and we who knew her marveled that she won and that we knew someone who won the lottery. In those days, ten million was an extremely high amount of money to win. Now days one hundred million is the usual outstanding amount to hope to win. How times have changed, when we were enamored that someone won ten million and now we get excited when it is one hundred million or more.
In 1957, I won four thousand dollars in a religious center’s raffle. It was called a drawing, you bought a ticket of only one hundred being sold and the winning amount was they said a Cadillac. You could buy a Cadillac for about four thousand then. I had half the ticket and my employer had the other half. So I got fifteen hundred clear after five hundred was taken out for taxes. I bought my mom and dad a new mahogany dining room set, since their set was from the marriage in 1927 and it was already almost thirty-one years later. They were so happy and I was pleased to do it for them.
What a difference in amounts. Four thousand was considered a great deal of money to win. Fifteen hundred dollars was thought to be a lot of money for a dining room set. Since its wood was the mahogany and it came with six padded chairs, it was very nice quality dining room furniture. It came with a huge piece called a breakfront and it had gorgeous glass doors with crossbars of metal making it unusually lovely. It came with a huge table plus two extra pieces called extenders which increased its size to be able to seat about twelve persons. Oh how rich Mom and Dad felt that they received this gift from me.
Their smiles were as wide as the table and soon the family from dad’s side of his two sisters came for dinner and Mom invited six more to make an even dozen folks. What fun we had, my brother and I to have the group of family there for festive dinners. When he got married, we had another person and his child arrived and we squeezed in two more. Mom put her crystal glasses in the breakfront and her china fancy holiday dishes in there too and you could see them shining and bright through the crossbars in the breakfront. Oh how Mom loved to dust the set and she kept it looking nice to the day she passed on in 1984. Oh how far that fifteen hundred dollars went in those days. What joy which seems small now of fifteen hundred dollars and you could not buy now perhaps even a set with four hard, non-padded chairs and no breakfront in it too. The pleasure I received buying this for them was also as wide as the large table.
If furniture could talk, what stories it could relate. Maybe even some gossip would be yummy. It could tell of family happiness, even some sadness, of new grandchildren for Mom and Dad and I, my fiancé coming to eat on the table too. It could tell of Mom’s gourmet cooking long before gourmet wording was used about delectable food. It could tell about holiday celebrations, of engagements of the two Sohmer siblings, my brother and I. It also later on was a table used to lay out food for guests who came to the house of mourning when Dad died in 1964. Also when Mom died in 1984, the same type of food laid out for the mourners, family and friends to consume, when they visited to share their condolences to us.
So the piece of wood shaped into a table and chairs and a breakfront too perceived that they had been there for us through lots of times, some happy, some sad and some ordinary days.
Do you think the furniture could tell the difference between the occasions?
The table eventually with its companion chairs and breakfront is now somewhere else, in someone else’s dining room. I wonder if it is feeling a bit worn, a bit used, a bit missing Mom and Dad’s home way back in about 1957 and which was purchased with the winnings of a young girl (me). I hope the table is set for happy occasions and no sad ones. I hope it knows that Elita, who is the only one left from the Sohmer family of those days, really will never forget its beauty, its use and its need. It was Mom and Dad’s friend and mine too. Oh how rich I felt when the winning ticket was pulled out of the jar back then in 1957 by U.S. Representative Samuel N. Freidel, our Congressman and I always loved him and I sure did vote for him, as long as he was in the Congress. So did Mom and Dad too.
Mom always held fast to her dream to have someday a new dining room set. Her dream came true that fall day in 1957 when a man put his hand in the jar containing one hundred raffle tickets, each bought for one hundred dollars and a young woman, me, was the recipient of this windfall.
A dining room table, chairs and a cabinet were the only things she was hoping for and she received it. In those days of fifty-five years ago, it became a big thing bringing happiness, wealth, use and most of all, my love for my parents. I hope wherever it is now, it brings the same warmth and comfort to its now owners.
It appears in this day and age of more fancier, more expensive and more costly items available; that it was a simple purchase used for the need of eating only. Furniture is now made for comfort, for delight, for admiration, for showing wealth we may have accumulated and for showing off a bit. In those days, though it was really very pretty, we thought of it as more of a necessary item to live our lives with. It was a dream at first as the poem from Mr. Hughes related and then it became a reality of great worth, mentally and physically to sit on and to use for storage and entertaining one’s family.
Whenever I walk into my own dining room in my home, I always think of the mahogany set of 1957 that brought such joy to them. I can still see all of us on special holidays or occasions sitting there and feeling great happiness. We used it only for those times, other every regular days we sat and ate in the kitchen and when holidays were on the way; then the furniture set became the focus of our lives and even in the mourning period, the set played its part in being there in honor of Dad first and then of Mom second. The set was a part of our life and we will never forget it, all brown and shiny and giving off its use to us when needed. As Hughes said “hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is broken.” Most of the times we used it, life was not broken, it was whole and Mom and Dad loved it so much, life was full and complete.