Virginia Wing Power Ginny's Chairs

ISBN 13: 9780964476066

Ginny's Chairs

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Ginny's Chairs is a collection of stories, insights, and poems from a remarkable Southern lady whose lifetime spanned most of a century. "To make good old people, you have to catch them young," Ginny often said, and her book appeals to every stage of life. Parents appreciate its rock-solid family values. Seniors hearten to its dignity and purpose. Everyone finds it an entertaining and inspiring read. Beginning with Big Fingerprint and Ginny's imaginary friend Boolard, this book seats you in a succession of memorable chairs, each providing a view of life that is as fresh as it is absorbing. Whether getting a carriage ride home with the unauthorized packinghouse beef at age 8 or winning a tennis tournament at age 87, Ginny faced life straight on. Mimosa Seat is the touching story of her father's death; The Chair That Burned relates hilariously to young married life. Follow her to England during World War II, to riding school in Mexico, to committee meetings as she organizes Senior Neighbors, to the garden she spent forty years creating. Share an intimate look at a love affair that went beyond the bounds of time. Ginny's Chairs is factual except for the final flying saucer in Tailored to Fit - and even for that, who knows?

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From the Publisher:

How many women do you know who win a tennis tournament at age 87, or write a book at 91? I was fortunate enough to know such a person - her name was Ginny Power and she died this past November, a few days after meeting with her gardener to discuss placement of 4,000 new tulip bulbs for spring. Virginia Wing Power - Ginny - was born in historic Bulloch Hall in Roswell, Georgia, in 1906. Bulloch Hall, now on the National Historic Register, is a pre-Civil War home and also the birthplace of Mittie Bulloch, the mother of Teddy Roosevelt. Theodore Roosevelt Sr and Mittie were married in the elegant dining room in 1853; Ginny stood in the same spot for her wedding to George Power in 1928. Bulloch Hall is open to the public today as a museum; where the Wood-Wing room displays Ginny's wedding dress and the lace collar Mother wore the day President Roosevelt came to town.

Ginny grew up in a place of neighborly farms, oak-bordered creeks, small-town nosiness, and a houseful of ghosts. She wrote her first poem at age 5 (dictated to her mother!). Ginny's life, though overflowing with joy, was not without heartache and tragedy. After her father's accidental death, when she was 11, genteel wealth changed to boarding-house necessity, and Mother returned to teaching school. Here are highlights of Ginny's early life that are detailed in her book: 1906 - born at Bulloch Hall, first child of Hattie and Bartow Wing 1915 - joined Roswell Presbyterian Church in a show of maturity at age 9, appearing before the church elders to answer theological questions while Mother, unknowing, rested at home, vinegar and brown paper easing her migraine 1917 - lost her father in a train accident, became even more self reliant 1922 - slugged him for kissing her, but nevertheless fell in love with sophisticated college-bound George Power, whose family boarded at Bulloch Hall 1926 - graduated from Agnes Scott College, put plans for an acting career on hold and began writing for The Atlanta Georgian 1928 - married George Power and moved to Chattanooga, developed a ringworm sore on her knee when she tried to modernize the kitchen floor with a dishrag 1941 - joined the American Red Cross when George was assigned overseas duty, drove a truck in buzz-bombed London, worked in a field hospital on the front lines and was almost captured during the Battle of the Bulge 1947 - began construction of a two-acre garden that she worked on for fifty years, grubbed honeysuckle and blackberry vines, planted dogwoods from seed; it's still open to the public 1950's - co-founded Senior Neighbors in Chattanooga, working with Ollie Randall of the National Council on Aging in New York; it's a leading senior center today 1950's-forward - traveled the world with her husband, attending riding school together in Mexico to study dressage; backpacking and horseback riding all over the west; fly fishing streams from the Smokies to the Rockies to Florida.

Ginny played Mozart beautifully on her grand piano, and she played tennis from her girlhood until winning her last tournament at age 87. She lent a helping hand to so many people nobody can ever tally her influence. She sent young people to college, taught exercise classes to seniors, and made everyone who came in contact with her feel special. Her love affair with George was legend; they were married 67 years. This poem tells all.

A Love Poem You could write a love poem just like that? Crash! I love you. Well, you might color it up a little With some overtones of sex. An occasional break of boredom, My Mama told me to be a good wife. But where are moments like the morning After you returned from two years Overseas, and said to me, "Get up, and bring me my socks from the dresser." And I said, "Let your bearer do it." How do you fit into days when your laughter Got me through the dismal slogging? Nights when I tossed with whirling black Swirls of caring and you needed sleep To make a sale next day? How did you know, as we got into the car For church last Sunday, To give me a careful, critical once over, then come out with "That's a good suit on you." Did you sense my shoulders needed straightening? It worked. Just as your eyes told, that time I almost died, That you'd be around the corner. "Come for a walk," you say, "to the top of the hill and back." You and I and our dog climb the hill together. Chuckling, crispy autumn leaves Blow into our faces. A family. Crash! A love poem? Didn't you know? It takes sixty years.

Digging through Ginny's file cabinets and musty old trunks was never depressing; instead it filled me with optimism for the future. That's the effect Ginny had on people. I urge you to read this book. Not because Ginny was such a great person, but because reading it shines up the possibilities in life.

From the Author:

There is no bitterness in my heart. How should there be? A childhood that brought joy wrapped in love, Set against hills and pastures, Roamed with Father who knew all trees, And understood what children imagined From a poplar whistle at spring when it slipped, And you could call up fairies with it To an argosy of rusted farm wagons That were airplane carriers complete With landing decks, doctors and nurses In high-button shoes and Red Cross headbands. And a mother better not to describe Because she was love incarnate And wrapped us in understanding and stimulus. And she was beauty. The rest of life, the living part? If I should try forever, Or for that forever which is left, A few, too few, years. I could not say thank you to the world, Nor to my strong man, Nor to the fall of the dice, Or more to my belief, the plan of God, That has made my days one long opportunity.

My lifetime has spanned most of a century. It was a world that can never come again. There were many Southern families much like ours. And yet, our kind of people aren't truly known nor historically recognized. We were not decadent, and we would not have made characters for Poe's stories. We lacked shock value. Yet the whirlpool of twentieth century turbulence sucked us in. So far, I have never quite lost that battered look, but I have survived. "She sho' ain't no lady that loves a bed," I heard my new household assistant telling a telephone friend. She was talking about me, and already she knew. Action is my dish. Thus, it seems even to me a little out of character that I find myself now thinking about chairs I have known. This rather compulsive search in the dusty closet of the past began late on a night when I was enjoying a visit from a newish sort of friend, insomnia. I got up and barefooted my way toward my dressing room in the dark so as not to waken my sleeping husband. Touching the smooth top rung of the slim, ladderback chair I used as a guide, I can see my mother sitting in the chair before her bedroom desk in my childhood home. I see her there, slim neck bent, warm brown hair escaping pins to highlight her cheek, her voice soft, if a little exasperated. "Wait just a minute, dear, Mother's adding." I went past the desk into my dressing room and switched on the light, found my book, and settled down in Auntie's little gooseneck rocker. But I did not read. My mind wandered back a hundred years to the time when some unknown workman had shaped this dainty chair for a succession of small women he would never know; then to the time Auntie gave it to Mother, her favorite niece. "Hattie, it is a perfect chair to bathe babies from, such nice low arms. And to rock them, too. With yours coming along, I want you to have it now." And I thought how it passed to me, one of the babies bathed from it. What would that long-ago craftsman have thought had he known an old woman would one day be sitting in his chair at two o'clock in the morning, reading by a brilliant light? And that from time to time she took a few sitting-up exercises on the floor while the noise of a passing jet momentarily engulfed the world? I looked across the dressing room and found myself admiring another chair I had loved from the days it stood silhouetted against the high, white wall of our old front hall, much too small for the space. Because it looked so small against the wide sweep of plaster, it had seemed to me a jewel of a chair. Its legs sweetly curved into its smooth mahogany seat; the back was not tall but made a generous flat frame for the central fiddleback panel, which was the heart of my love. Sometimes I would sit for all of a minute in that chair, my perspiring short legs doing the varnish no good, but my five-year-old mind enchanted with the feel of it and the coolness of the still hall. The fragrance of the Duchess roses on the big oval table caught my memory, and I could see Daddy's derby hanging on one of the corner hooks of the mirror above. Were hatracks, as Mother said, really going out of style?

The Universal Mind I made a bowl of biscuits, Rolled them and cut them out Each one alike. In the oven they baked and browned. But they were not alike, no two, Even though they were of the same stuff. My fat nephew took the biggest. I was glad they left the brownest for me. As hostess, I couldn't choose, But like my biscuits brown. They were the same stuff, All biscuits. Nobody said, What is this strange thing? Then, in the small night, not sleeping, (maybe from too many biscuits) Sitting in Auntie's gooseneck rocker, With a lonely light, A thought came, an idea, So new, but simple, workable. Why had no one thought this way before? Hundreds would know, millions, That since all time, this thing, this hidden thing, Had rested, waiting to be found, To smooth brows, solve puzzlements, And push fear back. Excited then, and not knowing or caring, How an old woman in curl rollers Might think new thoughts, But knowing I must sleep, I read John Donne. Read for solace, for forgetfulness, For tempting sleep. But Donne was tempting God, Was flashing ideas, And crashing words against each other. Hunting, always hunting, for the unexplained. He dipped into the bowl of secret knowledge, As I had dipped, As savages and Greeks have done, Baking ideas as any man can bake them (Or half bake them). We all may dip, and do, And nothing we find, or everything, is new.

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