On a late September day, the Red Chair made its way to the small town of Dublin, New Hampshire, population less than 2,000. In the shadow of Mount Monadnock, the second most-climbed mountain in the world, tiny Dublin is one of those places where the town hall, the fire station, the library and the police station are all within a literal stone’s throw from one another. However, due to the police station’s vantage point, no one would actually be stupid enough to try throwing a stone at another building. Well, except that one time, but that’s a whole other story.
Also clustered in this tiny area is Yankee Publishing, Inc. (YPI), home of Yankee Magazine and The Old Farmer’s Almanac, and the reason for the Red Chair’s visit to Dublin.
Upon its arrival, Yankee Magazine‘s editor Mel Allen bounced downstairs from his office to greet the Red Chair and learn more about its travels from the keepers of the chair, the very lovely Beth and her husband.
One little behind-the-scenes tidbit about Mel is that he was called “Bouncy” as a nickname when he was a young kid. You see he has very strong calf muscles–so strong that to this day he cannot stroll at an even gait. He actually bounces along. But, I digress.
Mel wrote notes on his small pad as he learned how the chair he was sitting on went from being a red chair to the Red Chair. Here’s Mel taking notes. As you can see, the editor of Yankee Magazine is so classic New England that he sports the iconic Nantucket Reds.
Well, not really. Actually, because of the Red Chair’s visit he wore his favorite fire engine red pants. He really wanted his pants to match with the Red Chair.
Okay, not really. Actually, he was wearing his L.L. Bean khakis.
Here’s the truth.
Such a talented editor and writer, Mel is much more comfortable telling a story rather than being part of the story. Or in this case, he was very uncomfortable as I started snapping pictures of him sitting in the Red Chair. You see, it was a Friday. And like some offices, YPI celebrates “Casual Friday.” And on this particular late-September Friday, New England was enjoying temperatures in the 80s, so Mel wore his favorite shorts to work. As the camera snapped away, Mel muttered, “Please try not to get my shorts in the picture.” He went on to tell Beth and her husband about YPI’s tradition of “Casual Friday” in his attempt to explain why he was wearing shorts at the office. But not getting his shorts in the picture while trying to get a photo of Mel in the chair was impossible, so I promised him that we would Photoshop some pants on him. You see how he looks like he is really smiling in the picture. What he was thinking was, “I am going to kill Heather,” while I continued to snap away with my camera.
So, here he is in his Eastern Mountain Sports shorts.
Moments later, Judson D. Hale, Sr., Yankee’s editor-in-chief, strolled in wearing his own “Casual Friday” attire. It was great timing because Jud is such an important part of Yankee’s history–and he really enjoys striking a pose for the camera, unlike some other editors.
He’s the nephew of Robb Sagendorph, Yankee’s founder, and has worked here for over 50 years. I also wanted to get some pictures of the Red Chair in Jud’s world famous museum, Jud’s Museum–built on faith, hope and charity, and he happily offered to give his official one and a half minute tour. He usually also offers another option, an all-day tour which includes lunch, but it was 4 p.m. on a Friday and he had better things to do so he didn’t even mention that.
Jud told us how he acquired Napoleon’s hanky. He showed us the stuffed chicken he brought on the “Today Show” and tried to convince Katie Couric that it was hypnotized. “We’d had an article in the Almanac about how to hypnotize a chicken,” Jud explained. “She didn’t buy it, but she realized it was stuffed.” He showed us a splinter from the battleship Maine. Spikes made by Paul Revere. Einstein’s brain. The first safety pin to ever fly over the North Pole.
We were about 65 seconds into our minute and a half tour when Jud started looking at the Red Chair somewhat quizzically. He said, “Gosh, all of sudden, this seems like déjà vu.” He scratched his head and reminisced about a publicity tour he did in Switzerland a few years ago for The Old Farmer’s Almanac. He explained that there just happened to be a red chair when he needed to sit down so he could change into a pair of lederhosen on the street. He had promised the publisher, Sherin Pierce, that he would get a picture of himself wearing lederhosen and holding a copy of the Almanac. Then he questioned his recollection and started digging through a pile of pictures.
“Maybe the chair was green. It was a few years ago. Perhaps, no I am sure it was red.” And before we knew it, he found the picture in question. And sure enough, it wasn’t just any red chair in Switzerland that he sat on. It was the Red Chair. Jud had proof. We must have gotten a little excited and loud at that point because Mel, whose office is right next door to Jud’s Museum, poked his head in the door and asked what we were talking about.
So Jud showed the picture of himself sporting lederhosen to Mel. In turn, Mel smiled flexing his calf muscles and said, “Well, I am glad today is ‘Casual Friday.’ Now I have proof that my calves are nicer than Jud’s.”
And that is pretty much how our minute and a half tour of Jud’s Museum ended as well as our time with the Red Chair. So, we bid farewell to the Red Chair, wishing it the best and inviting it to return again anytime. Jud’s saving a spot for the Red Chair at his table.
Postscript: Please learn more about the Red Chair and its journey by visiting RedChairTravels.com. For more on Jud’s Museum, click here. And yes, four photos in this blog have been “slightly” retouched using Photoshop.