One of the perks of retirement is the time available for thinking, pondering the past and the future. Lately, when the world and the politicians become overwhelming, my mind finds it easy to drift back to the distant past. Random events will take me back. Way back.
For instance, a couple of weeks ago my sister, Jolene, sent pictures of the roll top desk created by her husband. Like most everything Larry makes, it is a thing of beauty. Always a skilled craftsman, in retirement he has been turning out a procession of beautiful woodworking. He’s completed the desk’s exterior and is now perfecting the interior. The thought of all those little pidgeon holes found in roll top desks got me to thinking about a long forgotten childhood memory.
As a young child, I was fascinated by my dad’s uncle and his roll top desk with all its little storage slots. In his seventies, and still keeping up his sales accounts for Rath Packing, Uncle Joe had little patience for little helpers. He would set at the desk working on ledgers, and I’d try to remain quiet so as not to distract him from whatever important work was taking place.
Believe it or not, I still have the cane seat chair he used with the desk. It was recaned years ago, is in daily use, and may need to be caned again before too long. But I’d love to know whatever happened to the old desk itself. With any luck at all, it’s still used by someone who appreciates its beauty and keeps all those little pigeon holes filled with important papers.
When I tired of helping Uncle Joe with his bookkeeping, downstairs Grandma Morgan spent the afternoon mending clothes with her treadle powered Singer sewing machine. Antique stores seem well supplied with these old sewing machines today, but they’re never quite the same, never have the same history associated with them. And no matter how many of their drawers I look in, they never have the box of Cracker Jacks that Grandma kept in there.
On a good day, I might have been allowed to climb to the third floor and explore the attic with its treasures hidden in shadowy corners. Today, it would be so cool to somehow find that old train set from Grandma’s attic. It had only a small circle of track and three pieces: the engine, coal car, and a caboose. Maybe it was the fact that I knew it had belonged to my dad, but that old wind up black tin engine fascinated me in a way that none of my own toys could.
The mind wanders. I know it’s pure escapism, but spending a few minutes in the innocent past is not the worst way to take a break from the frightening present. What are some of the treasures you’d love to see again?