A shop teacher’s legacy

It was when I was running every street in my little New Jersey town last summer that I began to notice the Adirondack chairs. I just figured they were a popular item that looked nice on residents’ front porches or lawns. After all, I had two plastic ones I purchased at Home Depot myself. I did estimate that the ones I was noticing were wood and a much higher quality, however.

One day after returning from one of those runs, I found an email from George Chrisafis, the high school shop teacher, telling me that my daughter’s Adirondack chair was at the school and needed to be picked up. Hmmmm. I didn’t even know she had made a chair in shop class (she never tells me anything). Although…a glimmer of a memory from Back-to-School Night? Perhaps.

The next class. Ramsey, New Jersey. June 2018.

I finally got over there in August to get it before the new school year was to begin and it would have to be discarded to make room for the next class. It wasn’t finished (how she passed the class, I’ll never know). The arms still needed to be attached and three more slats needed to be added to the front of the seat. I took it home and there it sat – unfinished – on the back deck the rest of the summer. It was moved to the garage with the rest of the patio furniture by November. Still unfinished.

The fall was election time and my volunteer role with a local political campaign had me knocking on doors all over town. I came face-to-face with 100s of these Adirondack chairs. Some were brightly colored. All were proudly displayed. You could almost accurately guess how many children had passed through the high school from any given household by the number of Adirondack chairs a home had. I vowed that one way or another we’d finish ours!

When spring arrived the patio furniture came back out. Finishing the chair was put on my to-do list along with all of the other things I needed to accomplish before our move. We (and I exaggerate a bit here) finished the chair and painted it a dark green to match the trim on our beloved home. When we moved last month, all the patio furniture was left for the new owners, except for our special Adirondack chair. It will be a cherished reminder of our time in our little New Jersey town, a symbol of the mother-daughter team work that had carried us through the last four years, and Mr. Chrisafis’ legacy like all the other Adirondack chairs sprinkled around town – and maybe around the country.

A new home. Vernon Hills, Illinois. July 2018.

One thought on “A shop teacher’s legacy

  • July 11, 2018 at 5:30 pm

    Always proud of Ramsey teachers, George Chrisafis and the time he took to reach out to you. The High School Tech Ed staff does a tremendous job fostering students creativity and foundation for success later in life. Happy that you have that legacy piece and a Ramsey memory.


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