The tale of the corner hutch that wouldn't die.
Sometime in the 1930s, my parents acquired a simple corner hutch, which was apparently sold knocked down like the cheap furniture sold at big box department stores today. It consisted of a pine front with two doors, with plywood sides and shelves. My mother painted it pink and blue.
When I was about two, my eye caught a fancy knick-knack on one of the upper shelves, and I tried to climb up the front to get it. The triangular hutch overbalanced, and began to tip. My father raced over and caught it just in time to keep it from falling on top of me, but not in time to save the dishes. He installed a pair of screw eyes to the top and fastened it to the wall, but I had learned my lesson and never tried to climb it again.
The little hutch stood in a corner of our dining room in each of the homes my parents lived in, with a few figurines or special dishes displayed in it. Somewhere along the way, it got repainted white with green shelves on top, but the inside shelves stayed blue. After I graduated from college and left home for the last time, the hutch acquired a corner in my old bedroom, which was converted to a dining room in my parent's Orrin Thompson rambler in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, where it remained for the next 40 years.
In 2005, after my stepmother moved into a nursing home, I returned to the family home and retrieved the little corner hutch, putting it in a rented trailer on top of several other pieces of furniture my parents had kept from my early years. It survived the 1600-mile trip back to the Bitterroot Valley in western Montana, where I now live. There aren't any spare corners in our Hamilton house, so we decided it would go to our tiny cabin in the Mission Valley,120 miles to the north.
Memorial Day weekend, I loaded the hutch on top of our Jeep Cherokee and strapped it down securely. However, after traversing the washboard stretch of US93 construction detour south of Florence, Montana, the straps must have loosened. As soon as we accelerated to highway speed on the 4-lane north of Florence, I heard a thump and saw the hutch sailing away in the rear view mirror, then vanish in a shower of plywood as it tumbled in the air and struck the roadway at 70 miles per hour.
Fortunately, there was no traffic immediately behind us, and the wreckage had tumbled into the borrow pit at the side of the road, so we backed up on the breakdown lane and got out to survey the situation. Miraculously, other than a big dent in the back corner of the top shelf, the pieces seemed to be mostly intact. The only visible damage to the pine front was a gouge down the front of the wooden door pull. Later, we noticed the top trip missing. It turned out to have come to rest nearly 100 feet further up the road. By the time we retrieved it, it had been run over by passing cars, reducing about 1/3 of it to splinters. However, more than half was still intact, providing a pattern to create a replacement.
I disassembled the shelves, which were screwed but not glued to the front, and resecured the front and sides flat on the top rack of the car. We continued on to our cabin, where I reassembled the hutch, which now stands in the one corner for which it appears perfectly suited. The colors even match our cabin decor. I wired the top screw eyes to the wall, just to ward off future mishaps. The rear top corner is a little worse for wear, with a bit of splintering in the plywood, but only the top trim will need to be replaced. When I returned home, I traced the remains of the trim onto a piece of pine backsplash we removed from our kitchen countertop when we remodeled. It's cut out, waiting our next cabin visit, and it's even painted white.
So ends the current saga of the little corner hutch that I started to destroy nearly sixty years ago and very nearly succeeded doing so this time.