Friday, May 08, 2009

My Father's Desk

I use the desk my father used. I use it in the same room my father used it. It is a beat ex-US government issue desk some federal bureaucrat slaved over (Ha ha) back in the 1940s and maybe the 1950s. My dad bought it at one of the many auctions he often attended inside the federal triangle when we lived in the DC area in the early 1960s. I think he paid $5 for it.

It started out life a wonderfully cheerful Olive color. You know, that color the the government likes to use to gussy up their equipment. My father painted it a sort of baby shit reddish brown in an attempt I guess to make this steel monstrosity blend in better in the paneled room he called and now I call "the office". This desk has been moved around in this small room, but has not left it in 43 years since it moved in. It is actually too big for the room it sits in. The broad plain of it's massive top takes up roughly 20% of the available floor space in this room. With the wings extended, it makes an even larger dent. Throw in some file cabinets, a couple of book cases, some ancient stereo equipment and an old school wooden desk chair on wheels and the word "clutter" doesn't even begin to cover it. I call it cozy. My wife has other less kind words for it.

Even more interesting is that I have not even bothered removing many of the things my father kept stashed inside it's guts. In the top drawer his trusty slide rule, triangular scale rulers, fountain pens and ink sit dusty alongside the many magnifying glasses he used on a more regular basis once his eyes began to fail. Also inside,his cherished set of US Navy charting compasses he would handle with care and only let me use under the strictest eye he could muster. All kinds of cool old desk stuff sits waiting for me to rediscover it. The desk is a time capsule. I will often rifle through it looking for something and come out with some gizmo I often saw my father use when he was in his mad scientist mode.

I could say I have kept it as it was because of some strong sense of honor for my father's memory. That would be Bullshit. I have left them there because I figure to use them once in awhile. Why rock the boat? I know where to go if I need a magnifying glass. When drawing up plans with circles and doing them to scale, I know where the tools are that will help me in this endeavor.

Maybe my use of the tools he left me is the greatest honor I can give him or them. Placing them in some box in the attic or selling them out on the driveway on a sunny Sunday afternoon does nothing to honor their intent or their history. Tools are meant to be used. Somewhere I know the stern eye of my ole man is watching and waiting for me to not use them right. Knowing this makes me fondle them with care.

Keep it 'tween the ditches......................

(532 / 1788)


Kulkuri said...

The Old Lady has a chair like yours. It came from a Chicago&Northwestern depot in Wisconsin. Last summer I repaired it. One of the wheels kept falling out as the hole was severely enlarged and blown out of one side. I cut out the bad wood and glued new wood in and drilled a new hole for the wheel.

I remember one place I worked when a person retired, there was talk of hauling his old metal desk to his house, sort of retiring the desk along with the person. Just that one person because the desk was an old gray metal desk and nobody else wanted anything to do with it.

Middle Ditch said...

Wow! Same desk, same room???? Same house? How come? What happened that you are living there?

Mighty impressive desk mind.

Demeur said...

You can take comfort in knowing that after all the "assemble it yourself" desks have hit the landfills your dad"s desk will be there for generations to come. Unless of course after your passing some wet behind the ears desendant thinks it's a cool idea to sell for recycle. They just don't make em like that any more. They're big, ugly, and clunky but oh so functional.

BBC said...

Hum, my father died at 44 in 1965 and never did have a desk at home. The only thing I got when he died was a Helbros watch that at the time was a good quality watch but I have no idea what happened to it.

Well, I do have a couple of his Snap On tools and they are still better tools than you can buy today.

Anyfuckingway, I have two of those old metal desks outside that I use to store things in and work on.

But my computer desk is an old wood office desk I picked up I remember not where.

Because I have this delusion that I'm too busy to refinish it I just have a piece of formica on top of it to hide the stains on it.

I've added my own coffee cup stains to the formica, ha ha ha.

Randal Graves said...

Once you're seated at the desk, amidst all the lovely clutter, visitors have to be lowered through the ceiling via helicopter, no?

Demeur's right, the stuff these days, unless you're going to shell out merry bushels of cash, are simply crap. This sucker might even outlast nuclear war.

Gary ("Old Dude") said...

Aha!!---so thats where all those pearls of wisdom, and random thoughts are generated!!----nice cat ya got there I notice!!