Wednesday, November 07, 2007

P Is For Pentridge Prison

Put All Your Cards On The Table

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON


They were just a young married couple, very much in love, with their first baby on the way. They had just moved into a rented unit. New migrants to Australia, they were half a world away from home, and now they were scouring furniture shops because the unit was bare.

No one had told them the long Christmas-New Year summer season was the worst time to look for a job, but their spirits were still high because the joy of birth was only a few weeks away. They did not have a car, so they walked miles in the heat. They had walked to look for a place to rent, they had walked to look for a job for the father-to-be, they had walked to look at second-hand car yards.

Today they were walking along a street that housed several furniture warehouses. They picked out some simple furniture and asked for it to be delivered. Nothing ostentatious. Just sensible stuff that they could replace later, when they got on their feet. For they were utterly confident that they would get on their feet. It was just a question of time.

They saw a Salvation Army furniture store and walked in, purely on a whim. The manager showed them a beautiful little handmade wooden table with curved legs  perfect for a living room. He told the young couple there was a story behind the table. It had been made by inmates at Pentridge Prison as a farewell present for the long-serving jail chaplain who was being transferred elsewhere.

Now the priest was old and frail and was going into a retirement home, so he wanted the table sold to a good family.``It's not a perfect table,'' the manager said. ``There are a few flaws. But it was crafted with love and respect for a man of God.''

The young couple were enchanted by the story. But they didn't know if the lacquered table would match the furniture they had ordered. About a week later, the husband was in the area and found himself drawn back to look at the table. It was still there. He bought it, thinking they would give it away in a few weeks to someone else who would appreciate the deep significance of its origin.

That was twenty years ago. They've had three kids and they still have the table.

It's had pride of place in every home we've owned. It still sits in our family room. We'll never give it away.

35 comments:

Cuckoo said...

What a lovely post David !!

God bless you.

Ackworth Born said...

the oldest furniture is often the best - we've got stuff like and it is a wrench when the time comes to let it go.

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Very special story. Thank you, David.

Shrink Wrapped Scream said...

A beautiful tale, so touchingly told. I also have a table with a story, I must tell it one day!

david mcmahon said...

Hi Cuckoo,

Thank you very much. It is such a special part of our family life.

Keep smiling

David

david mcmahon said...

Hi Ackworth Born,

You;re so right. In this case, the kids are already tossing coins to see who gets the Pentridge table!

Keep smiling

David

david mcmahon said...

Hi Nick,

It's had many years of homework, school projects, uni work - and it's still holding up beautifully.

Keep smiling

David

david mcmahon said...

Hi Carol,

I'd love to hear the story. As I love to read everything you write.

Keep smiling

David

mrsnesbitt said...

Family treasures eh? Gosh yes, the stories we have within our very own 4 walls. Stories displaying the richness of family values and memories. Dialogue, truest origin!

A wonderful, heart warming post David....once again the Salvation Army features! Do you think that was the call I received? LOL!

Denise

Sam said...

It is such a beautiful one... some things are just meant to be with you no matter where you go!!

Kate Isis said...

The table has some gorgeous lines to go with its infamous start in life. And it survived longer than Pentridge.
I wonder who made it, twenty years ago there were some pretty infamous guys in pentridge.

Suzi-k said...

delightful story. As an interior designer, it used to amaze me how people would ruthlessly clear out their homes, and refill them with new items which were lovely from a design point of view, but totally lacking in soul or history. For me, it is vital to have some treasured pieces like this, and as the years go by, their sentimental value adds up with each memory that they feature in.

lime said...

what a wonderful story! i imagine so many lovely meals and conversations at the table.

honestly, i don't think i could ever get rid of our dining room table nor could i refinish it. a week after we bought it our toddler pock-marked the top by stabbing it with a fork repeatedly. a few years later #2 child was angry while doing haomework and pressed so hard on her pen it carved words through the paper. a couple years later my son decided to etch a tiny stick figure with wild hair into the corner of the table by using the end of a large staple. no one can say the table lacks personality.

kml said...

What a beautiful piece with great history!

Celebration of Life said...

I have a treadle sewing machine that belonged to my mother that I learned to sew on. It doesn't work any longer and it isn't pretty but it is in a predominant place in my livingroom. I will always cherish it.

Stacy said...

What a beautiful story, David. I love furniture with history, it has so much more character.

Selena Kitt said...

What a delightful story!

i beati said...

I tutor indigent children. Last night I was in a home of 7 who eat on the floor.

Colleen said...

David- THis is lovely! At first when I began reading, I thought it was a novel type post you made up. But it's Your story, and that makes it even better. Thanks for adding the photo. =)

Suldog said...

That's a lovely little story, David. So much said in so little space! You have an economy of words that I sorely lack :-)

Neva said...

You brought a tear to my eye..no really. what a lovely post!
A beautiful table.

Sandee (Comedy +) said...

Very well done David. I enjoyed it from start to finish. Have a great day. :)

. . . Dallas Meow . . . . >^^< . . . said...

how glad I am to have found your site

Lynilu said...

A dear story, and a lovely table. I still own a couple pieces purchased "pre children." Nice memories.

Kimberly said...

Beautiful story...it brings to mind my own memories, the things that I've come to cherish.

Craver Vii said...

If that table could speak, I'll bet it would say equally nice things about its current owners.

photowannabe said...

Precious memories. Thanks for sharing them with us. I love the curve of the table leg. Don't think I could part with it either.
Great "P" post.

RUTH said...

A precious table; thanks for sharing this heartwarming story :o)
Rx

Anna said...

What a lovely story. The table is quite lovely, too.

WalksFarWoman said...

I knew that table was yours David because over the months we've come to respect your wonderful nature, the beauty of your soul and a genuinely touching empathy for your fellow man. You didn't fool me for a minute! :)

You'd be my Post of the Day ... if I had one.

Bradley's Mom said...

David.......what a wonderful story, and a beautiful table.

Thanks so much for sharing this with all of us.

Linda

katherine. said...

how very cool. That manager at the Salvation Army truly picked out the best family

Corey~living and loving said...

Love this post. very touching!

BRUNO said...

Now THAT was one neat story! It almost made me wet-eyed! (I said ALMOST!) But it did remind me to always keep a slice of that "humble-pie" preserved away, in case one needs a reminder of what rut one COULD have gotten stuck in.

It's SENTIMENTAL, and useful---who could, or SHOULD, ask for more?

WHEW!!! Now I'm out of breath, and over-extending my welcome! LATER...!

phaseoutgirl said...

David dear...

Happy Diwali! I am sitting here at an airport lounge in Narita on my way to Bangkok, then Bali and your post caught my eye, and moved me.

I wrote something on the plane too (nothing like this!), and hopefully can post it by tomorrow...I almost had a story with two tables, but changes overtook before the story was complete... so...

It has been awhile...

:)