The Briefly Extensive History of a Creative Couch

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Sometime between the 1960’s and the early 1970’s, a couch was born in Forsyth, Georgia. In a pretty shade of green – a hue laying somewhere between celery and olive – this tufted beauty began her early life as a sales piece in Cawthorn Store for Homes, one of Forsyth’s local midcentury furniture stores.

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She sat on the showroom floor with a bevy of other age- appropriate furniture that was meant to awe and inspire the home decorator just like the goal of this vintage 1970s Levitz ad…

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But her destiny was not to be bought, enjoyed and then eventually discarded. There was no rubble heap in store for our green girl. This couch had vagabond stories to tell deep within her bones which is why at some point in her maturing life, our fair couch left the confines of her small city and headed out on the open road, eventually migrating five counties north to Athens, GA where she took up residence in a vintage clothing shop giving rest to weary tryer-on-ers. The clothing shop was above a grocery, The Daily Co-Op…

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in a historic building owned and renovated by R.E.M.’s lead singer Michael Stipe. There she stayed for quite some time until this past June, when the vintage clothing shop was packing up to move locations. In a wonderful moment of serendipity, Ms. Jeannie happened upon this couch for free just days before moving to Nashville.

While loading all 7′ feet of her into the moving truck, a piece of paper fell out from underneath the tufted section…

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It was a 1930’s paper postcard from Nurnberg, Germany.  While the card was never mailed there was a detailed message hand-written in fountain pen ink on the back. It read…

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“As you look at this card the house to the left on the corner was bilt in the 18th century. And on the rite is the first wall that was bilt around the city. At the time, it had not many houses. Later they bilt more on the outside of the wall and then they bilt another wall around it. All of this is broken down now.”

The house that our postcard writer is referring to…

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is that of 15th century German artist Albrecht Durer (1471-1528)

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Albrecht’s self portrait completed in 1500 at the age of 28.

who was an influential German renaissance painter and a prolific artist of landscapes, portraits and religious iconography throughout his career. These are some of Ms. Jeannie’s favorite Durer paintings…

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The postcard was not signed so there is no telling who it belonged to or how it wound up in the couch but it does add a fun little piece of story that strings together a collection of creative spirits across quite an extensive number of years. From the initial mid-19th century furniture maker to the 1990’s famous musician to the contemporary vintage shop keeper to the 16th century German renaissance painter to the 1930’s postcard writer to the present day antique lover that is Ms. Jeannie, this one couch has managed to connect six artistic people across four centuries.  Not often are such associations all wrapped up in one piece of furniture!

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As with all vintage items, the beauty of this couch lies deep in the fact that she’s lived a mysterious life, well-worn and adventurous. Her interior stuffing is made from hog hair, and her wood frame shows a few knicks and scratches. Spots of threadbare fabric on one seat cushion match some shabby fray on both of the arm rests, but these imperfections add more dignity than distraction.  Eventually when the fabric can hold up to time no more, she’ll be reupholstered in smooth black leather, but until that day occurs she’ll reside as-is in the land of Ms. Jeannie.  Adorned with some handmade boho pillows (a new sewing project!) and a pup who thinks she is heaven, this vintage couch seems happy to build up a new layer of history here in Music City. Time has only yet to tell what other kindred-creatives will leave their impressions upon her!

Cheers to making new friends for your furniture!

 

All Aboard: Your Adventure Awaits {Part Two}

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The date is April 27th, 1964.  You are standing among the crowd in front of the Unisphere, the largest globe ever built by man. It contains 470 tons of stainless steel and is considered “one of the most outstanding achievements in structural sculpture in the past decade.”  The New York World’s Fair has you dizzy with excitement!

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It is Day 5 of your travel adventure and you marvel at just about everything you set your eyes on.  There is an edge and an urgency to see, taste, hear and explore all the situations around you. You are bouncing from exhibit to exhibit on a natural high, guided by curiosity and surprise. Part New York frenetic energy and part endorphin rush you are bombarded in the best possible way with ideas that are new and thrilling and coming at you from all directions.

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If you wanted to see all 150 pavilions and attractions at the Fair it would take 30 full days of sightseeing. But you only have a week so you have to make a list. With your trusty 300 page fair guide…

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purchased for $1.00 at the concession stand you highlight the specific places and pavilions you want to see first.

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Among your not-to-miss moments are the: House of Good Taste, the Rheingold, Walter’s International Wax Museum, the Clariol Hair Color Exhibit, the Avis Antique Card Ride, the Transportation and Travel Hall, France, Switzerland, Indonesia, Africa, the Space Park, the Garden of Meditation and the Pool of Industry plus 27 others. It’s an ambitious schedule but you are determined to make the most of it.

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While so many exhibits are enormous, some in particular really catch you off-guard by their sheer size like Sinclair’s Dinoland where nine life-size replicas of dinosaurs stand hovering over the fair-goers.

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It is one of the most popular spots for photographs so you have to squeeze in quickly to get a few snaps. The dinosaurs were made by artists in upstate New York and were in fact so big they couldn’t be transported by truck or trailer, so they had to be floated down the Hudson River via barge. In the anticipation leading up to your trip, your friend Gene took a photo of the big guys heading down river and sent it off to you in the mail…

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Other incredible sightings so far have included the steel and plastic Liberty Tree with leaves made of historic documents in the New England pavilion…

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…and the scale model of New York City, which measures in total 180′ feet  x 100′ feet. Each building is scaled at 1 inch to 100 feet which means that the Empire State building is 15″ inches tall. Amazingly,  this model includes every building in Manhattan.

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You soak up all the sun and and all the fun at the very first live Porpoise show courtesy of the Florida State Exhibit…

before heading over to the Hollywood Pavilion where you soak up celebrity and have your autograph book signed by Joan Crawford and Kirk Douglas.

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With heart pounding you fly like a bird through the air courtesy of the Monorail, the Observation Towers, the Brass Rail Snack Bar, the giant Royal Tire ride and the Parachute Jump…

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Part of the reason why you are feeling so giddy and alive is because there is so much positivity and potential floating around. Words and wonders like Carousel of Progress, Futurama and Tomorrowland greet you both in person and in print at every turn…

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and you can’t help but feel a sense of overwhelming optimism for the progress that is sure to come in the next 5, 10, 15 and 20 years.

You have been at the fair for five days. You have traveled 1000 miles from New Orleans to New York City to get here. But in reality you have gone much further. You have circumnavigated the globe. You have seen zebras in Africa, enjoyed coffee in Lebanon and arranged flowers in Japan.  You have explored planets in outer space and dived deep into the inky depths of the sea. You feel like a true globetrotter, a jet-setter and a time traveler all wrapped into one. You are crossing continents and centuries in the blink of an eye. This is by far one of the most exciting vacations of your life. You don’t want to leave but you also can’t wait to share your trip with all your friends back home. You mail off a litany of postcards every day… your words running off the cards because there is just so much to say.

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You look for a souvenir that can encapsulate this experience of a lifetime in one item. You search through many stands and stalls before it hits you…

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You find a book that symbolizes all the magic of the moment that is the World’s Fair. You purchase a souvenir copy of the story of Michelangelo’s Pieta, which is on display in the Italian pavilion. The 15th century sculpture stands 6′ feet tall by 5.5′ feet long and contains three different elevated viewing platforms. You walk onto each one to gather a sense of the sculpture’s size and scope.

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The sculpture fills you with emotion. It is a combination of history, stone and craftsmanship.  It contains story, self-expressionism and symbolism. It conveys love and tenderness, majesty and gift-giving. It is passion magnified in a portrait of faith and future.  It represents past accomplishment and future hope. It is the New York World’s Fair personified. This art, this souvenir book, this incredible Fair represents a moment in time, in life, in history destined not to be forgotten.

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