The Heywood-Wakefield Tipoff
Our son Michael emails me Craigslist links. Sometimes just a single item that catches his eye, other times dense jumbles of links for furniture and knickknacks assembled during a scouring of Craigslist. Once or twice — I believe — he has muttered about my mistimed response rates.
Thursday morning I opened Michael’s email and found this Craigslist photo:
Since I wasn’t interested in the stack of empty boxes, I studied the Heywood-Wakefield Sculptura dresser and other Hey-Wake items in sitting in St. Augustine, about 40 miles south of us.
I called David to look over my shoulder at our computer screen.
“What do you think?”
“Let’s call now,” he said.
He phoned, negotiated a price, and said we’d pick up that evening. Michael couldn’t accuse us of failing to act promptly on this one.
David texted Michael about the sale but the message didn’t go through. Michael remained in the dark. I soon texted him asking if he could help move furniture that evening. No, because he had rugby practice. He still didn’t know we arranged to buy the Hey-Wake. His absence would complicate matters because I don’t excel at moving solid wood furniture.
The Estate Sale
But first we visited a local estate sale and pick up a few small items. Anything large would be impossible to transport because we had a Kent-Coffey chest in our SUV. Speaking of which, even if we moved that piece out of our vehicle, could we fit all the Hey-Wake pieces in? Our best guess: no.
How’s this for luck? We encountered an Avonlea Antiques and Design Gallery colleague at the estate sale, a generous man who lends us his enclosed trailer from time to time.
“May we borrow your trailer for a move tonight?”
“The answer is ‘yes, you may.'” This white-haired gentleman brims with Southern gentility. I love him.
A quick aside, here’s an abstract painting we bought at the estate sale. Not exactly small, but flat.
The trailer is magnificent. Double rows of wall hooks to secure items. Shelves of blankets, padding, straps, hooks, clamps, and jars of bungee cords. We left the estate sale, drove home in the rain, loaded up our hand truck with 12 ” pneumatic tires (a Christmas gift to David) next to the Kent-Coffey chest, and went to pick up the trailer. Only the trailer. We’re still far from heading out of town.
At some point our information caught up with Michael and he offered to skip rugby practice to help us. No, no. We’ve got this wired. It will take about 50 minutes to drive there; we’ll take the drawers out, load them separately, then deal with the cabinet.
Rain, cold and dark engulfed us as he headed to St. Augustine. We could handle that. But the ambiguous directions unraveled us. The furniture couldn’t be at an exact address. No, the seller gave cryptic clues leading to an unmarked building: look for a long dark country road, a driveway 100 yards away from something, a McDonalds (which we never saw), a traffic light, a 2-story house with solar panels on top (couldn’t see it in the rainy blackness).
I exchanged phone calls with the seller. He grew increasing brusque as we became more frustrated. Poor David had to turn the SUV and trailer around a few times in tight quarters on dirt driveways.
This was pretty much our view from inside the vehicle:
The seller drove out to the road and watched for us. And phoned me:
“Did you just go through that traffic light?”
“Yes, where are you?”
“Pull over to the side and wait. I’ll get in front of you and you can follow me.”
Were my tears from joy or exasperation? We eagerly followed him down the road. All he needed was a lighted “Follow Me” sign to make it clearer to us. By the time we backed into place next to the 2-story building that did indeed have solar panels, the rain had lessened. A small kindness that we gratefully accepted.
We examined the Heywood-Wakefield pieces and silently rejoiced: a Sculptura dresser, manufactured 1952-59; an Encore side table/nightstand from 1950-55; a Dog Bone (named because of the cut out) footboard and solid headboard.
The two bigger pieces looked banged up but David knows how do bring Hey-Wake back from the dead. The seller showed us other Mid-Century Modern furniture upstairs and asked us to consider buying the pieces at a fair price. He felt we lowballed him on the Hey-Wake, but acknowledged reviving them will take a ton of work. I must point out again: we negotiated the price before we drove down. As far as his other furniture, we weren’t in any shape to consider it.
Out came the drawers and we began to load and secure.
We pulled out the furniture the next morning, the sky a brilliant blue and sun pouring down. You can see the damage more clearly but David is encouraged because he’ll be working with solid wood — no veneer. We’re looking at dresser damage in the photo below, followed by the marred nightstand.
The Dogbone footboard sits higher than the headboard in the photo below because it’s perched on the rear fender of the trailer. The side rails and the both head and footboard have extensive finish issues.
But once again, Heywood-Wakefield used solid pieces of wood to build their furniture. We don’t have to worry about sanding out a deep scratch in the wood because there’s no thin piece of veneer to confound the restoration. David thinks this will be a fun project but it comes with a learning curve. I have no doubt he will bring the pieces back to the original Hey-Wake Wheat finish.
Things always look so much better in the light of day — dazzling enough to forget about our damp recovery efforts. I did, however, announce a new policy: I only do pickups during daylight hours.
I plan to share a cheerier post about St. Augustine, our country’s oldest established city, sometime soon. You didn’t get much historical scenery in this update. Here’s a link to an earlier post about a Heywood-Wakefield Living Room set that we acquired. It’s beautiful furniture.
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Ann Marie and David