An Insignificant Piece of Personal Significance

cribPictured at left is the antique crib in which I slept until I was six months old or so. (I’m guessing – but that’s the age at which most of my friends’ babies could roll over and begin to pull themselves up; I can only assume my mother wouldn’t have knowingly left me in what would at that point be a death trap…though perhaps she at times wished she had.)

The crib is in my study/shop, and it’s taking up valuable storage space (look closely and you’ll see the brad nailer “stored” next to my poor, decrepit teddy bear). It sits exactly where I want to put my tool chest, which would fit perfectly. But there’s no other room in my house in which the crib makes sense or can fit (actually, it doesn’t make sense where it is, either), and because of the tight turn and narrow stairs up to my third floor, I can’t move it to my “room where all things go to die” (500+ CDs of which I can’t seem to divest myself, an old, non-functional sewing machine, two Victorian chairs I’ve been hauling around and not using for 24 years…).

I asked my mom if she wanted the crib back, but she has even less room than do I for another piece of furniture. I’ve tried to sell it on Craigslist as a decorative item, but found no takers.

It’s in need of repairs: the two of the fretwork panels are loose, the headboard moulding lifts right off, two legs are a bit bockety…. Plus the latches on the front panel are a joke (there’s a backup hook-and-eye closure…because sharp bits are awesome in cribs). There is no way I’d put a kid in this thing; I’m pretty sure it would be considered child endangerment under today’s statutes. I use it for storing blankets (on which my cats like to sleep, so the blankets have to be washed before I can use them on the guest beds). So basically, my baby crib now serves as an ineffectual blanket chest that holds little, protects nothing and takes up a lot of much-needed space.

So I’m thinking of breaking it up for parts (or just cutting off the posts so I can maneuver it up to the third floor – just because I feel as though I should keep it). If I cut it apart entirely, I could incorporate the fretwork panels into the doors of an as-yet-to-be-designed cabinet. The headboard could…hang on the wall? The turnings could become the legs of a bedside table. But will they? And would I regret cutting up this antique piece that has been with me since literally days after I was born? And if I do, will the parts end up on the third floor, never to be used? This crib is nothing special – but it feels as if it ought to be.

What would you do?

— Megan Fitzpatrick

65 thoughts on “An Insignificant Piece of Personal Significance

  1. Creative Insights

    Empire style crib could be hacked or destroyed? Nay. Skip CL and go to antique or consignment shop. FEATURE the antique element. It is legal and safe up to the age you note, though make the repairs, for sure. Check for places to have little fingers catch AND line it with a nice silky spill-over-the-edges quilt/baby blanket – try yellow and white. Thus decorated, it is EASY to sell, photo. Use a bit of finish restore on it – do NOT refinish it. Just tone it, clean it as an antique person would do. If no kids/grandkids, find a friend who needs it – what a gift.

  2. kwhp1507

    I am a disabled Firefighter EMT do to a tragic accident that left brain damage. I have taken up woodworking in my basement only a year and half ago. To “learn” the trade I use lots of recycled furniture and pallets for sources of wood. I have learned that things can be reconstructed and finessed in ways that pay “homage” to the original donor pieces. I say if you could not sell it for use as is and are not attached to it in its present configuration, reconfigure it into something meaningful to you! If you do not want to do that, I live near Columbus Ohio and would love to use it for a project if you choose not too. Providing we are close enough to drive lol. I bet all of the naysayers above might enjoy seeing a article in a upcoming issue of it being repurposed. Keep rockin on with the great articles in and out of the magazine!
    Kevin H.

  3. Sawdust

    Here we go again. Just ask Mr. Shanesy about his dining table from Moser. I would prefer that you use your skills to restore the crib, then find a loving & caring home where the original maker’s vision can be enjoyed as intended.

  4. chodgkin

    For goodness sake, don’t destroy it! Some new parent who prefers real furniture to cheap plastic or Chinese made junk but doesn’t have a handy woodworker husband, father, or brother will love it. (I have made cradles for all my grandchildren and I guarantee you they will go down the generations.) Fix it (it will be a nice challenge) to be safe for an infant, and offer it to a new mother — if you don’t know one personally, post a “free” notice with a photo in the waiting room of your doctor or ob-gyn and stand back as the phone rings off the hook.

  5. doneby

    Try a local consignment auction or antique dealer. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That’s an irreplaceable artifact that someone else might treasure. Please don’t destroy it.

  6. knothole

    Makes me wonder if you are losing your mind! Never destroy an antique. There is always some method of repair. There is always someone who wants almost anything. It can be challenging to find that person. Like toochtwo said, there are always charities operating thrift stores that would be delighted for you to donate the crib.

  7. robertwf

    Don’t you dare chop that up for parts. If nothing else fix it and donate to a museum. It is definitely worth more than something to cannibalized for parts.

  8. toochtwo

    There’s an infant somewhere that would sleep nicely in this beautiful old crib. Fix it and give it to a worthwhile charity like the Purple Heart Foundation. You’ll be doing some good and in your mind’s eye it will always be perfect. The cats won’t miss it.

  9. Redbat

    My dad made a crib that turned into a storage problem for one of my daughters. The crib I made I designed to take apart and fit into a card board flat box for storage. It has been use for 9 babies so far. What I am saying is that with modern methods like the Kreg pocket hole screws, you should look at cutting it apart in a way that you can screw it back together later, and store it flat in a box, or lift it to the ceiling in a room out of the way. This way you can keep a sentimental piece and not be overly burdened for storage. It sounds like some parts would still need to be glued up, but I am sure from my own experience you can break this down into 5 major pieces that can be stored flat.

  10. RogerInColorado

    If it were mine, I would disassemble it so that it would take up less space. I would store the parts out of sight, in the back of a closet or under the bed.

    If it wanders in your mind and some of the parts evolve into something to be used in something to make for your mother, you are good to go.

    If it never enters your mind again, you can rediscover the parts late and give them to a fledging woodworker to be repurposed and you are good to go.

    That you have kept it this long in spite of the space it takes up speaks volumes.

  11. MonteB

    Megan, I I have an old chair seat hanging on the wall of my shop. It is all that remains from a cheap chair which fell apart. I kept the seat because it reminds me of a time when that chair was the only chair I owned. If you do disassemble the crib, I would suggest using at least a part of it in some meaningful way.

  12. Robert

    If it were insignificant, my guess the crib would have been “curbside” some time ago. Might I suggest careful disassembly and storage for a future family heirloom gift? Maybe there’s an interesting article idea here too. Sometimes woodworkers are called upon to disassemble and repair vintage, but not necessarily priceless antique, family furnishings. This little crib could be the star of a photo essay on how to carefully take something to pieces without using the Sawzall.

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