I began in a rock maple forest of Vermont. I was taken to an enormous mill and fashioned into my current shape at a company called Ethan Allen Furniture. I am what is known as a drop-front secretary. You can open my front panel to reveal the writing desk. When the writing surface is exposed you see six small cubbies, three on one side and three on the other with a drawer beneath each side. The center cubbie is wider and has a shelf beneath it. When the writing surface is closed you see a lock to secure it. Below the writing surface is a shallow drawer the width of the desk, and beneath that are three drawers. One deep file drawer on the right and three smaller drawers on the left. The large file drawer has a lock on the side. I sit on delicate square feet.
In 1955 I was ordered and shipped to Seattle for Mrs. Louvee. I resided on the west wall near the entry across the living room from the fireplace and big bay window. Next to me was placed a curved spindle back maple chair. On my top rested a hobnob milk glass lamp with two stacking globes connected by brass fittings, and a clear white chimney coming from the top. We were Mrs. Louvee’s delight and the first thing visitors saw when they came into the room.
Mrs. Louvee was meticulous. I was dusted and polished each week. She placed bills to be paid in one of my cubbies, letters to be answered in another, business envelopes in a third, and letter-sized envelopes in a fourth. The other side cubbies were used for office necessities like a stapler, an electric pencil sharpener, a small hole punch, tape, stamps, a clear plastic box of paper clips, and the necessary box of eighteen milk chocolate Ferrero truffles. The two short drawers under the cubbies held pens, pencils, erasers, staples, and lip gloss. The long drawer under the writing surface held important papers and paid bills that would be filed in the large file drawer at some point. The other three smaller drawers held an engagement calendar along with three past year calendars, photographs, and address books – she had several. That was my life until Mrs. moved to Tucson in 1999.
She insisted on bringing me with her to her new, much smaller, home and I had a place in her bedroom. Still dusted and polished, I was no longer on display and seldom used. When she passed, I went to live with her daughter Miss Diana.
What a difference! Now I reside in Miss Diana’s writing room. My inside cubbies are cluttered with a hodge-podge of sticky notes, a flashlight, hand cream, 3 x 5 cards, stickers, stamps, hard drives, bookmarks, photos, candles, DVDs, CDs, and of course a box of chocolates – not Ferrero truffles but dark chocolate cherries and coffee nips. The drawers are crammed with tarot cards, writing prompt cards, outdated manuals for electronics, a whole drawer of old electronics like recorders, headsets, more hard drives. The big file drawer is stuffed with writing notebooks, files of stories, poems, chapters of partially written books, and miscellaneous notes. Neatness doesn’t count. I have not seen a dusting rag or polish in at least six years. My top is littered with old photos, a Kleenex box, a glass keepsake box full of who-knows-what, a stack of coasters, and a stack of books. A lamp that looks like a stack of kittywampus books took the place of the lovely milk glass lamp. Around me is a plethora of books and papers Miss Diana uses as she creates word pictures. An old office chair sits before me. Sigh. But I am used daily. I am no longer an occasional piece of gleaming furniture. I have a very important job. Even if I don’t look so good – I’m happy.