Someone asked me recently to describe my ideal writing desk. After giving it a little thought, I couldn’t come up with anything better than what I’ve already been blessed with. Let me tell you about “my” desk. It’s the only piece of furniture in our eclectic collection I’d hate to part with.
In 1978, Jon and I were newlyweds living in Longview, Texas where Jon studied at LeTourneau College. The campus originated as a World War II army hospital with the kind of barracks and supplies you’d expect. After the war, the LeTourneau family turned the facility into a training school for veterans. Today it’s a full-fledged university with beautiful new buildings and state-of-the-art everything. But while we were there, many of the old buildings and furnishings remained. In the school’s ongoing quest to replace things, Jon was given a chance at a free desk. Ugly and heavy as the dickens, it was still a big step up from his folding card table, and we wrestled it home to our under-furnished apartment. It served Jon well as a student and when we moved back to Manitoba in 1981, the desk came along.
A few years later, we hired Portage ARC Industries to strip off the depressing grey paint from the outside and the unbelievable red paint from inside the drawers. Underneath, we discovered gorgeous oak. From there, our friend Paul Caslor finished the job and we had ourselves a beautiful, solid piece of furniture—five feet wide and nearly three feet deep.
For years, the desk occupied a corner of our bedroom because there was no other place for it to go. To protect its surface, we kept it continually buried in paperwork and clothing. In 2005 when our last birdie left the nest, we turned a bedroom into an office and moved the desk. That’s the same year we found a garage sale computer desk which Jon claimed for himself. The big desk officially became mine.
Although it could use a hole in the top for computer cords, I’m not sure I’d want to spoil the desk by modernizing it any way. Down on the left-hand side, what looks like three drawers is actually a door that swings open to reveal an old-fashioned typewriter shelf. Occasionally it swings open of its own accord, as though a ghost inside needs some fresh air. The shelf slides out and pulls up to lap level with a mighty yank – no hydraulics or electricity required!
On the right are three actual drawers. The top one holds really cool diagonal wooden slots for sorting paper.
The middle drawer above the knee space might have been designed to house massive ledgers or maps. With some modern-day organizers, it holds an abundance of supplies, many of which were not even conceived of when the desk was built more than 70 years ago, like data sticks and felt highlighters. The lock encased in this centre drawer would lock the entire desk if we possessed a key.
At this big old desk, I’ve tapped out my first novel, 125 Out of My Mind columns, and various and sundry other articles, stories, scripts, emails, and blog posts. Not to mention far too much time spent on Facebook. Sometimes I wonder about my desk’s history before it fell into our hands. If it could tell me the stories it has witnessed, maybe I could write a best seller!
I’ll have to settle for its sturdy silence and make my own stories, I guess. Little did I know when we first dragged it home that I would grow to appreciate it more with each passing year. It’s a keeper.
Now if I could just learn to keep it tidy.