I was blessed with getting to meet Max Woody this past weekend, before either of us passed on. What a true privilege it was too!
It was another Saturday "road trip" with my friends, and this one stretched our usual "day trip" limits. We traveled well over 300 miles in the round trip from Harriman, Tennessee to Old Fort and Marion, North Carolina. By the time we spent a couple of hours in Max's chair store and shop, it was getting dark by the time we arrived home, and we had left around 8AM.
|New location in Marion, NC.|
A lot has been written about Max Woody and his legend as a mountain chair making craftsman. Oops, I messed up, Max says he don't create, he builds chairs!
I just wanted to write about my 2 hours with the man in his shop. It will be something I will long remember.
During the telling of his life and times, I soon understood that he was a man of faith. A woodworker, like that other carpenter, he cares for the youth of today. He is a supporting member of groups that reach the young people of the "inter-cities"; showing them the mountains of North Carolina and love of Jesus.
Suffice it to say, Max's chairs are the best; made with no nails or glue. They outlast their owners and their inheritors.
His "Colonial-style" chairs are highly sought after, and at one time he was six years behind in orders. Now, it seems, he just makes them on request, or, as Max says, when people keep calling me about one. It appears that "the squeaking wheel" gets oiled!
He has been honing his craft for about 65 years now, and though he is slowing down, he still turns out chairs. The product is the best too. He demonstrated how he tests the strength of each chair; putting his full weight on each leg. The chair doesn't move under his weight!
The list of famous chair owners goes on and on, but the ones that stand out for me are John F. Kennedy, Billy, and Franklin Graham. They recognized the quality of Max's work and the adage "You Get What You Pay For"!
I personally would love to have one, but with both our ages, and the back-order time, I think I've missed the window of opportunity. Besides, the cost is steep, around $3,000 for a rocking chair, and about a $1,000 for a straight-back chair! However, the authentic squeak the chairs make when you sit in one makes you want to place an order and hope. I remember that sound from my youth while sitting at my grandmother's table. It's comforting...somehow.
The other "best part" of being around Max, besides the smells of his woodworking shop, is his stories. He don't wait for you to ask, he just spies something sitting on a shelf, or hanging on the wall, and starts right in, "Now there's an interesting story."
He is never lost for a story, because his place is full of items that bring them back to mind. His new shop in Marion isn't as large, or as full of stories, as his old store down in Old Fort, but it will keep you begging for more stories long into your visit.
|Old location in Old Fort, NC|
Anyway, if you are ever in Marion, North Carolina, go out on Highway 70 and look for his sign. He'll be glad to meet you and spend a yarn or two with you!