MADISON COUNTY, Miss. (WJTV) – This Focused on Mississippi story is about an old friend, chair maker Greg Harkins. He’s doing what a lot of us are doing, keeping up with the times while recognizing what time it is.

“Well, I’m realizing I’m not infallible. Not bullet proof.”

In other words, Harkins is getting older and recognizing it. That is a vital part of the process of aging… knowing what time it is.

“Sometimes, I’ll be sitting there in the shop, and I’ll need a tool or something. I’ll look over there, see it and I’ll say, ‘Oh, that’s six steps over there’,” he said.

Over the past few years, Harkins has included teaching chair making in his life. Before coronavirus, he had classes going quite regularly, but COVID cut that out.

“I’m hoping to get back to it. But these naps keep getting in the way.”

Well, Harkins is finishing up a class with a special student this week. A distant relative who grew up in Louisiana, but lives in Germany now. Tom Guglielmo decided to take a few days of his annual trip back home to visit his cousin and learn to make chairs. 

“I started out in Germany. My wife is German. I’d love to make a chair myself. I can’t take the chair back in a handbag, so I figure the only way I’m going to have one is to make it myself over there,” said Guglielmo.

That’s the idea of the classes… spread the knowledge of chair making to any who wants to keep the craft alive. Harkins has always made more than just a chair.

That’s the key to being a good student or apprentice, realizing you aren’t the one who already knows everything. It’s the teacher who’s dropping pearls of wisdom and bits of knowledge that will take you into a long life if you pay attention.