A CHIFFEROBE was commonplace in the homes of Appalachia as I grew up. I remember them being a place of wonder and mystery. They had a key, you see. Only the possessor of that key was allowed to open the CHIFFEROBE.
Oh, the surmises my brain came up with about what was inside. What secrets could possibly be hidden behind that locked door?
I remember the one Granny had. I couldn't imagine what a granny would hide in that CHIFFEROBE. Unfortunately, I never discovered its secrets. I can only imagine.
Did she come from royalty and her jewed crown was hidden inside? Were there amazing ball gowns hidden away from a former life? Had she hidden a stash of money in there?
|Key to CHIFFEROBE|
Daddy had a CHIFFEROBE, too. Many times, I tugged on the door, hoping he had forgotten to lock it. No such luck.
What in the world would a man hide inside a locked CHIFFEROBE? What could he possibly hold so dear that it required a lock to keep everyone else out?
After the huge flood of 1977 swallowed our house and destroyed almost every possession we owned, I finally got to see the inside of Daddy's CHIFFEROBE.
Disappointment. Behind one door, he had a rod hanging with most of his clothes. Apparently, Mom took up all the room in the big closet with her clothes. On the floor of the CHIFFEROBE, he had his shoes stored.
Behind the clothes, in the corners, he had his guns--shotguns and rifles--for hunting. Of course, what I remember most is the day he came into the backyard while Mom was reclining in the sun and shot two HUGE black snakes out of the tree above her. She wasn't happy about that.
The other door of the CHIFFEROBE hid more interesting items. Instead of a rod for clothes, it had shelves and drawers. Papers, family photos, a few books, all his notebooks detailing every penny he ever spent and all family data (births, deaths, full names, some genealogy). I am fortunate enough to have one of those notebooks now. On the bottom shelf, he had some Mason jars of homemade wine he made from the grapes that grew wild on Laden Trail on Pine Mountain where he grew up. I had never seen my dad take a single drink of his wine.
The drawer on the bottom contained all kinds of trinkets and items he deemed necessary to save. Loose coins, screws and bolts, and things I didn't recognize. I did recognize his Greyhound safety awards, though. Each pin had a Greyhound dog (their logo) on it, the year he earned it, and a diamond, ruby, or sapphire under the dog's tummy. A few years after the flood, Mom took those pins to a jeweler and had the stones removed and reset into rings. I got one of the rings. It's my most prized possession.
|The CHIFFEROBE Daddy built|
My CHIFFEROBE survived the flood and then a fire in my first apartment. It has lived in Kentucky, New York City, Ohio, Michigan, Maryland, South Carolina, Tennessee, and now in Georgia. It bears a few scars and smoke stains, but it still has most of its original glass knobs Daddy placed on it over 60 years ago. I still use my CHIFFEROBE every day.
Did you grow up with a CHIFFEROBE in your house? Do you have one now?
I'd love to hear your stories.
*Special thanks to Kay Ball for the top photo of her CHIFFEROBE.