“Shall we have dessert in the family room where it’s more comfortable,” I said, sliding my chair back from the table. “Does anyone want any coffee with dessert?”
“Honey, I for one would love one,” Bunny Gutierrez said, with her refined Texas accent, her long blond hair swept back into a pony tail behind her head.
The other four members of our group nodded in assent. Devon and Clarissa Taylor lead the way into the family room followed by Bunny, her husband, George and my husband, Richard.
Clarissa, Devon, Richard, and Bunny settled onto the giant brown over stuffed sofa, while George snuggled his lineman’s frame into the matching overstuffed chair leaving the two brown leather wing back chairs available.
“George, you may not want to sit there,” I said, from the kitchen, “that’s the Chair of Much Nappiness.”
“Excuse me darlin’, the what?” George asked, smiling, his black pencil thin mustache and goatee framing his mouth. His soft spoken Texas accent a contrast to his bass voice.
“The Chair of Much Nappiness,” Clarissa said, her red ringlets framing her round face, “I think Eleanor, Fannie’s little sister, named it that when she was little. Isn’t that right Fannie?”
“Yes,” I said, running my fingers through my short brown hair. “The family joke is anyone who sat in the chair would channel Great Grandpa Benson and fall asleep.”
Richard laughed, his tall lean frame put him head and shoulders over Devon who sat next to him. “Yes, I’ve experienced it a time or two myself.”
I poured a cup of coffee. “George do you want any cream or sugar?”
“No darlin’, black is just fine,” he said, taking the cup, “but I want to know exactly what I’ve gotten myself into before I change chairs, because it’s quite comfortable.”
“The only danger you’re in is in falling asleep,” I said, winking, as he drank his coffee.
* * *
December 6, 1873, snow blew across the rolling landscape piling up between the hills and blowing into caves. Candle light danced through the windows of the small farmhouse on a hill outside Louisiana, Missouri above the Mississippi river. Heat radiated from the pot belly stove making the windows sweat. The curtains rustling from the outside wind. Two men sat on rough hewn benches at the kitchen table and sipped home made whiskey as the screams of a woman in pain escaped the house. The wind carried the screams across the hills.
Half an hour later, a scream of another much younger voice followed by crying.
“Congratulations, Osro, you have a son,” Martha, his nearest neighbor, said holding up the infant at the door. “Effie’s doing just fine. What’re you gonna name him?”
Osro sat for a moment looking at the candle light through the whiskey in his glass. Pulling on his handlebar mustache he said, “I reckon we ought a name him Osro Jedediah Benson after me.”
* * *
Effie walked four month old baby Jed around the kitchen trying to calm him down.
“Effie what’s the matter with baby Jed?” Osro asked rubbing the top of Jed’s head.
“I think he’s cuttin’ his first tooth.”
“Is that what all this fuss is about?” Osro asked laughing, “I’ve got the fix fer it, got it from a riverboat cap’in on Friday.”
Osro removed a bottle of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey from the cupboard. He poured a thimble full into a glass. Dipping his finger into the glass he pressed his finger against the baby’s lips. Baby Jed chewed on his father’s finger, drool ran down his chin. Calming down he fell asleep.
“Now that’s some miracle,” Effie said smiling.
“He’s got good taste,” Osro said nodding.
Nearly 23 years later Jed Benson read the paper to his parents, “July 17, 1897, Gold! Gold! Gold! Gold! Sixty-Eight Rich Men on the Steamer Portland. Stacks of Yellow Metal!”
“Well don’t that beat all,” Osro said leaning back in his chair swirling the glass of liquid gold, Glenfiddich, he shared with his son.
“I’m going to Seattle, there’s nothing for me here.”
Four months later and out of money, Jed Benson arrived in Seattle looking for work. The Arctic Room, a gentleman’s club, hired him for his extensive knowledge of whiskey. He served the finest whiskeys and bourbons to Seattle’s nouveau rich.
Jed married Melva Bell in 1901. As a gift from Melva’s parents they received a large overstuffed purple velvet chair and matching sofa. Melva’s favorite color.
Jed enjoyed a glass of whiskey and fell asleep in the chair every night.
When the Twenties roared in, Prohibition lined his pockets and those of his three sons. They moved to the top of Magnolia Hill.
On December 5, 1933 President Roosevelt signed the 21st Amendment into law.
While reading the headline “Prohibition Ended” after dinner on his 60th birthday, December 6, 1933, Osro Jedediah Benson, Jr. drank his last glass of whiskey before falling asleep in his chair.
* * *
“Fannie, I thought you said the sofa and chair were purple?” Devon asked, looking at the furniture.
“They were,” I said, laughing. “That is a point of contention in my family. My grandmother hated purple and had the chairs reupholstered in 1945 to the brown you see today.”
“Yeah, but it still doesn’t affect the power of the chair,” Clarissa said, as George snored softly in the chair. “Doesn’t even look like the coffee had any affect.”
“George honey, wake up,” Bunny said, putting her hand on his knee, “I think it’s time to go home.