Sunday, April 10, 2011

Lucy's Desk

For the past few years, I've written from a serviceable oak desk purchased for my now grown up daughter. Although I have a good chair, the desk height did not allow me to work with my elbows at 90 degrees to the keyboard. My husband tried to buy a new desk but could not find one. After one particularly sore episode of scrunched shoulders and aching back, I moved my great grandmother Lucy's desk from our living room into my study. The antique desk, stained a dark mahogany, has a small drawer and four compartments across the back with pencil trays on either side. A writing top slides out over another narrow drawer running the width of the desk.

Lucy's mother was pregnant with her as she traveled from Wisconsin to Council Bluffs, Iowa and then west to Washington. Lucy was born in Hulda, Washington on October 4, 1879. When she was a young girl, she and her mother moved back to Omaha, Ne. In 1898, Lucy married Harry, my great grandfather who worked as a traffic policeman. Together, after the turn of the century, they raised four daughters and one son in Omaha.

When Lucy moved in with my grandparents, the desk came with her. Placed in my grandparents dining room, the desk collected stamps, mail, bills, and numerous copies of my Grandmother's car keys. After I brought the desk to my home, I opened the lid and searched the two drawers. I found four letter openers (one with a Fuller Brush man on the top), four metal hinge pins, a wooden ruler inlaid with one inch samples of twelve different woods, and my grandfather's brown leather driving gloves. Leaving the treasures in the desk, I set up a display of family photos.

Although I never saw Lucy sit at her desk, I did know her when I was a little girl. She was a tiny, proper, lady who wore a hat, gloves, and navy blue suit to church. During the week she wore cotton shirtwaist dresses and often pinned a small brooch pinned under the collar. When I sit down to write on Saturday morning, I imagine her taking out a piece of crisp stationery to write a letter to one of her daughters or granddaughters. I think she would be pleased that I find her desk a comfortable place to work.

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