that he really wanted. Imagine my horror
when, at an auction of premium
antiques, I heard him bid 5160.00 apiece for two chairs that
caught his fancy. Nothing like this ever happened be-fore, and I asked
him if he knew what he was doing. He ignored my question and kept on
bidding. When he finally bid 5260.00 apiece, the auctioneer became
momentarily speechless; then, looking him straight in the eye, asked
quietly and seriously, "Brother Riley — have you gone out of your
mind?" — which expressed my feelings exactly.
In spite of this chiding he kept right on. I do not remember
when he withdrew from the contest or what the chairs eventually sold
for, but I remember being very relieved when he finally
shook his head at the auctioneer, indicating his unwillingness to
go any higher. Before the day was out, however, he had bought
a swell-front mahogany bureau and a set of Sheraton chairs, but
at no such fantastic prices.
The Sheraton chairs were delicate and loose-jointed. We kept them
in the guest room and I associate them especially with
Aunt Lillian Dunham's visits. Whenever she was about to come, they had
to be removed from their usual places because Aunt Lillian
was enormous and needed something more substantial under her. Once
when she arrived my mother was horrified to find the
chairs still in place.
"Don't sit on those chairs," she warned Aunt Lillian. "They're
not strong enough to hold you. I'll get you some others."
Aunt Lillian was not a real aunt, but Aunt Katherine Bennett's
sister. Aunt Katherine was no sylph either, which might very
well account for her concern over Aunt Lillian's obesity. A few days
before Aunt Lillian's arrival a typewritten list entitled