Being a newlywed couple, we didn’t have enough furniture for even the two-bedroom house. One area that we could not make heads or tails of was the breakfast nook. It was about five feet off the end of the kitchen that was too small for a table. A metal and linoleum leaf extended off of the kitchen island to create a perfect trailer-park dinette. It was the first thing we took apart when we moved in.
Shortly after that, the Forward Arts Foundation held its annual flea market, which opens this year with a preview party Sept. 27. Since 1954, 11 years before the foundation was started, residents have rummaged through their attics and basements and brought to light items long forgotten in the recesses of time. What makes the event so unusual is that there are real treasures at just about every corner of the transformed parking deck at the Atlanta History Center in Buckhead.
For example, a friend of ours found a large brass mortar shell which he uses for a trash can. I picked up a signed first edition of Tom Wolfe’s Atlanta-based novel “A Man in Full” for $10.
My wife Lori and I entered the opening night preview party with that breakfast nook in mind. The market is laid out so similar things are grouped together. We perused the furniture selections. There were some beautiful pieces but the space we had was too small. I recruited a foundation member who happened to be my godmother, Boyce Ansley, to help. We gave her the dimensions and she led us to the saddest table I have ever laid eyes on. But it was the right size.
Given the fact the table would fall apart in a strong breeze, I did not want it. I turned to talk to someone and Boyce and my wife concocted a story that would make the table a little more acceptable. Never turn your back on two conspiring women.
In addition to her myriad of civic causes, Boyce is the regent of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, which owns and maintains George Washington’s historic home on the Potomac River. When he was president, Washington made one visit to Georgia in 1791. Boyce and Lori decided that when he visited Savannah and Augusta, Washington may have set his riding crop on this very table. By the looks of it, that table may well have been around in the 18th century. I didn’t buy their story but we walked out with the table nonetheless for a 25 percent up-charge. The money goes to a good cause; the visual arts in Atlanta, including the High Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia in Buckhead.
The table spent five minutes in the kitchen and soon found a new home in the basement. One house and more than a decade later, it is still down there.
Thornton Kennedy is a fifth-generation Buckhead resident and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.