The Summer of 1969: The Desk Chair

By Richard Mabey Jr.


Our story so far: It is now Saturday, the morning of the twenty-eighth of June of 1969. I am still working very hard on painting the infamous Thorpe Hall of Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church, for my Eagle Scout Service Project. Dad and I move the big, heavy trophy case from the wall to the middle of the floor, so that I can paint the wall in that area. We decide to take a lunch break.


Dad and I walked through the door of Thorpe Hall that led to the staircase that led to the side door of the infamous Thorpe Hall Thrift Shop. It was always a place where you could get a good bargain on second hand items, that were still in great shape. Just outside the door of the shop, to the left-hand side of the door, stood a great, light maple wooden chair. The seat of the chair had a golden yellow cushion attached to it. A sign was nobly taped on the chair, “$5.00,” written in big, bold black marker ink on a sheet of white cardboard.


As Dad and I approached the thrift shop, Dad said to me, “that’d be a nice chair for your desk, Richie.”


“It sure would, Dad” I replied.


The desk chair that I had was a most humble thing. It was an old metal folding chair that was nicked up quite a bit. You couldn’t fold it up any longer because it just wasn’t properly aligned any more. And one of the front legs of the chair had a kind of wobble to it, so I had glued some thick cardboard to the bottom of that chair leg so that the chair would be level.


Dear, kind, sweet Mrs. Dixon was working at the Thorpe Hall Thrift Shop that day. Mrs. Dixon was a most kind and wonderful elderly woman who loved her church, all so very much. The endearingly late Mrs. Dixon still holds a most unique place in Lincoln Park’s history pages. For her husband and her son, both served as mayors of Lincoln Park.


As Dad and I approached the doorway to the thrift shop, we saw Mrs. Dixon cleaning off some bric-a-brac that filled a big cardboard box. Dad gently said hello to Mrs. Dixon, as not to startle her. I said hello to Mrs. Dixon, she said hello to Dad and myself. Then Dad did most of the talking.


Mrs. Dixon asked my dad how the scout troop was doing. This was more than polite chatting, for Mrs. Dixon’s son, Mayor William A. Dixon Jr., was one of the founders of Boy Scout Troop 170 and was presently the Troop Committee Chairman. I remember Dad telling Mrs. Dixon that it was her son who convinced him to take on the role of Scoutmaster back in the Summer of 1966.


After talking for a few minutes, Dad pulled out a 10-dollar bill from his wallet. “I’d like to buy the desk chair you have in the hallway for my son, Mrs. Dixon,” Dad told the dear, sweet pillar of Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church.


“Okay, Dick, it’s five dollars. Let me get you change,” Mrs. Dixon replied.


“No, Mrs. Dixon, put the whole 10 dollars in for the church,” Dad respectably told Mrs. Dixon.


“Well, thank you Dick. That’s very nice of you,” Mrs. Dixon told Dad.


“You folks here at Saint Andrew’s have been very good to us. Letting the scouts meet here every Friday night, all these years,” Dad said.


“Well, it’s an honor to have such a good scout troop in our church,” Mrs. Dixon sincerely told Dad.


Dad and Mrs. Dixon talked for a little bit longer. Mostly about the troop’s plan to go to summer camp and then later to take the big week-long canoe trip down the Delaware River. Then, we all said our goodbyes.


Dad and I walked out to the hallway. Dad looked at the beautiful, light maple wooden desk chair and said to me, “Richie, I think that’ll be a lot better for you than that old wobbly folding chair you got now for your desk.”


I smiled at my dad and simply replied, “it sure will be!”


To be continued.


Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He can be reached at Please place the wording “My Life Weekly” in the subject line.

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