C Is for Cedar Chests

I remember that we always had a cedar chest. Sometimes it was in my parents’ bedroom, sometimes in the dining room, but it was always there. Although I was a little vague on its history, I knew that either Grandpa made it for my mother, Gail, or it was one that Dad made in high school shop class.

It was special to lift that lid and smell the scent of the unvarnished interior. Inside were family quilts and Mom’s treasured pineapple patterned crocheted tablecloth.


The old cedar chest made by Clyde Martin in high school.

When the grandkids started graduating from high school, my dad, Clyde Martin wanted to give each one a cedar chest. His mother made each grandchild a quilt and a rag rug when they married. The cedar chests were his way of carrying on the family tradition.

Dad and Mom scouted the yard sales in the El Dorado area to find vintage cedar chests. Sometimes the old wood was battered and scarred. He would work some magic on the distressed chests and present them to the graduate.

In one of Mom’s notebooks, I found her somewhat incomplete record of the project.

1999 Cedar Chest List (from Gail Lee Martin’s Notebook)

  • Grandchildren’s cedar chests for H.S. graduation
  • Paul 1997 small restored chest from Jenetta
  • Robin 19– 1st one put together from WalMart kit
  • Kristy 1990 or 1991 – restored but destroyed in Andover tornado
  • April 19– restored chest
  • Nicki 1998 1935 Lane cedar chest replaced lock
  • Diana 2000 1935 Lane cedar chest
  • Sam 2005
  • Chhaya
  • Karen Friend’s Univ. graduation. made by Clyde in 1940.
  • Kristy 1999 replacement for the one lost in tornado
  • Cindy
  • Susan
  • Ginger

On hand – April 1999

  • The one Daddy made for me.
  • One handmade from Butler county cedar(warped top)
  • A nice handmade @ 1940? small, on legs bought 4-17-99.
  • One with old, rounded edges, possible an older Lane, Lane key fits.
  • One extra large home-built cedar with no feet.
  • One commercially veneered, stored at Karen.

4 thoughts on “C Is for Cedar Chests

  1. I gave my sandalwood chest made for my grandmother to my daughter. I am pleased to see it holds our bedding for when we stay overnight. I have my other grandmother’s carved Chinese camphor chest which contains more bedding. Finding a spot for it is a problem. Now it sits in the entry foyer which is not very big.

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  3. What a nice thing to do. I made all my grandchildren quilts when they were babies. Now that they are graduating and going to college, they want me to make them a bigger quilt. I’m afraid that is not going to happen. They don’t realize the time it would take.


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