Tahlequah Daily Press


January 27, 2014

The piece of furniture that held a little girl's heart

TAHLEQUAH — Does anyone out there know what a “chifforobe” is? I do, but I had to look up the word to spell it here, and it took me forever to get close enough for Google to do the rest.

According to Wikipedia, a chifforobe is a piece of furniture that combines a wardrobe with a chest of drawers. Some folks might call it an “armoire.” I think the word is a bit archaic, especially since my grandmother used it. That’s also why, when I first started looking for the correct spelling, I thought it might be related to “chivaree.” Anyone who’s ever seen “Oklahoma!” knows what that is.

I own what may or may not be an antique chifforobe. It belonged to my paternal grandmother. She used to tell me she got it when she and my grandfather were first married, because they didn’t have proper closets in those days; at least, they didn’t have proper closets where she and my grandfather were living in those days.

When I was a very young child, I vaguely remember the chifforobe being in one of the bedrooms of my grandparents’ home in Midwest City. Actually, it might have been in the separate living quarters built for my father and his two brothers – either because the house was too small for four kids, or because my grandparents wanted the three boys out of their hair. We called that “Hays’ House,” after the younger of my two uncles, long after he had abandoned the abode.

Above the drawers on a chifforobe is a hutch-like cubicle with a small door that opens outward, and this usually has a glass window. The glass on Grandma’s chifforobe had been broken at some point, and for awhile was open until someone stapled plastic where the pane was. At some point, the chifforobe was semi-retired to a walk-in closet in the main house. Sometimes it had clothes in it, and sometimes not, but it made for a great hiding place for a kid.

Both my grandmothers were stay-at-home grannies, and when we kids stayed with Grandma Poindexter, she always indulged us in whatever silly games we played. Hide-and-seek was especially fun, and the chifforobe was prime property for sequestration. I know this because no matter how many times I hid there, my grandmother always had trouble finding me, and when she did, she always seemed shocked.

I loved that chifforobe. It had a familiar, homey feeling, with its fading stain and slightly blistered coat of varnish. The interior had a soft woody aroma, and if there were clothes tucked inside, it smelled like fabric softener, or sometimes faintly of mothballs. I always felt safe inside because I knew that eventually, my grandmother would find me, and then we’d go make cheeseburgers or “Grandma’s Toast” on the griddle, grilled with butter on just one side, slathered with melty peanut butter and grape jelly, and folded over.

My grandmother used to tell me, “Kim, when I’m gone, you can take that thing with you and let your kids play in it.” I’m not much for knick-knacks, furniture, dishes, clothing or any other staples in the hand-me-down category, but I did want that chifforobe – not for my kids, but for myself.

At any rate, I had only one child, and fortunately, my grandmother lived until late 2006, well beyond the time my son would have crawled into the chifforobe to await discovery.

In theory, I do “own” the chifforobe now, but I’m not in possession of it. When my grandmother died, my father snagged it, and since that time, it has been consigned to his garage, kind of like an annoying housecat that pees on the carpet instead of in its litterbox. There it sits, undignified and dusty, bereft of any lacquer, forlorn and unloved. I’d like to take it, sand it and refinish it, and restore some of the glory it must have once possessed.

I’ve asked my father several times for the chifforobe, but he always says, “You can have it when I’m done with it.” He’s using it not to store dresses and slippers, but to house his shotgun shell reloading paraphernalia.

My father, who is in his late 70s, cycles with FreeWheel and jogs about five miles a day. In general, he’s as healthy as a horse, though he’s getting hard of hearing, which means he yells even louder than he did when we were kids. So when he yells, “You’ll get it when I’m done with it!” I usually remind him that he’ll probably outlive me, and so I’ll never actually “get” the chifforobe. The last time we had this exchange, he grumbled that he’d make sure my son got it.

Perhaps there’s hope that one day, a grandchild of mine might hide in that cozy, comfy little sanctuary.

Kim Poindexter is managing editor of the Tahlequah Daily Press.


Text Only
  • Keeping the interest of boys is just a matter of ‘gross’

    A couple of my friends complained to me recently that they didn’t know how to “connect” with their teenage sons, and that they are growing apart from the sweet little boys to whom they once read bedtime stories.

    July 14, 2014

  • ‘Different’ situations aren’t so very different, after all

    “Well, that’s different!” It’s the favorite phrase of the hypocrite, when confronted with his glaring flaw.

    July 7, 2014

  • Threats on social media or elsewhere won’t change any minds

    I try not to take political positions on my private Facebook timeline. I used to sometimes, in what I considered a polite way, but that offended friends left and right – literally. And sometimes I watched in horror as a thread degenerated into name-calling between people I respect, but who happen to be polar opposites on the political spectrum.

    June 30, 2014

  • Striking the hyphen, and other journalistic maneuvering

    A couple of years ago, my office phone rang. With no greeting or fanfare, the caller indignantly said, “Did you know they’ve taken the hyphen out of ‘fundraiser’?”

    June 23, 2014

  • taylor.armerding.jpg IRS spins email yarn as Obama slips past another scandal

    Forget everything you've heard about email. All digital trace of a former IRS official's email over the 25 months the agency harassed conservative groups has mysteriously, improbably vanished. Gone, too, is the White House's accountability as President Obama slips from another scandal.

    June 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Front-load washers are harbingers of foul-smelling fabric

    May 27, 2014

  • Beetles in the office aren’t up on blocks

    We have more dead beetles here at the Daily Press office than you can shake a can of Raid at.

    May 12, 2014

  • NOLA always worth your time, especially for Jazz Fest

    When it comes to New Orleans, you can have a “glass half-full” or a “glass half-empty” attitude.
    Either you see anniversary celebrants enjoying a romantic dinner at the Court of Two Sisters, or the aging transvestite hawking her wares on Bourbon Street. You hear the joyous sounds of Zydeco music from the band on the corner, or the lewd cursing of the drunken frat boy at Pat O’Brien’s. You smell the enticing aroma of Cajun cuisine in the French Quarter, or the fresh puddle of vomit on the sidewalk.
    I’m a cynic, but I take the “glass half-full” approach to New Orleans. My family loves the city’s character, even with all the blemishes that repel respectable folks, and we especially love the Jazz and Heritage Festival. That’s where we were last weekend. The main action is out at the fairgrounds, with its sweltering temperatures, stick-tight-laden grass, and sea of sweaty bodies packed in around a dozen stages and 60 or so booths selling local food and crafts.

    May 5, 2014

  • Selling of lies in the dreaded car game

    Recently, my husband and I did something that is discussed in the same tone of disdain reserved for Communists, salesmen, politicians, lawyers, and sometimes, journalists. We bought ourselves a “furrin” car.
    We decided on a foreign contraption because my husband now commutes to Tulsa every day, and a quick calculation revealed the horror our three-quarter-ton diesel Chevy would visit upon our bank account. That vehicle gets a comparatively impressive 18 mpg, but doing the math on the current price of diesel and a 150-mile daily round trip is enough to send anyone to the nearest toilet to hurl up the previous meal.

    April 21, 2014

  • Wild West pits U.S. government against “We the people”

    Unless one has been living under a rock over the past week, one couldn’t have missed the recent standoff in Nevada between a rancher and the U.S. government. It’s only one incident in many that has the government of the people pitted against the people.

    April 16, 2014


Do you believe school administrators and college presidents in Oklahoma are paid too much?

Strongly agree.
Somewhat agree.
Somewhat disagree.
Strongly disagree.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites Anti-violence Advocate Killed, but Not Silenced. Dempsey: Putin May Light Fire and Lose Control Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase Obama Seeks Limits on US Company Mergers Abroad Large Family to Share NJ Lottery Winnings U.S. Flights to Israel Resume After Ban Lifted Official: Air Algerie Flight 'probably Crashed' TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans Raw: National Guard Helps Battle WA Wildfires