The easy chair that belonged to Myron, my father, was a dark green leather club chair. By the time he died it had dominated the living room of every house we lived in, and it had definitely seen better days. As we divided up the household goods, I think all six of us wanted to take that chair home as a reminder of our childhood. But by that time the leather was pocked with cigarette burns, at least one of which had expanded into a four-inch tear along one of the arms.
I see Myron in that chair, his long legs stretched out across the matching ottoman. On the floor beside the chair was a standing ashtray, a pedestal topped with a removable heavy smoked-glass dish that was always full of butts.
Cigarettes perfumed every room of our house when we were growing up. Both Myron and Eileen, our mother, smoked. One of them unfiltered Camels, the other unfiltered Luckies, though I can't remember who smoked which brand. The ashtrays throughout the house always needed to be emptied. The post-prandial cigarettes were stubbed out on the dinner plates. At the time that seemed normal—well, it was normal at our house—but imagining the practice now I can't think of anything more disgusting. No wonder we kids never wanted to do the dishes!
The club chair was where Myron read the paper (The Chicago Trib once a week, the Indianapolis Star, or the Lafayette Courier) and drank his cocktail-hour manhattans. The chair was wide enough and deep enough to accommodate (when we were very young) skinny Myron and a pile of skinny kids on Sunday morning (after Mass, of course) when he would read us the funny papers from the Trib.
In the end the dark green leather chair was left in the old home town. I really don't remember how we disposed of it almost forty-five years ago. But I have a feeling that, if pressed, any one of us could still describe in detail the chair our father sat in.
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