Sunday, September 24, 2006

Things My Grandpa Made

things my grandpa made
While visiting my grandma, I went looking in this desk for a pencil, because once again I forgot to pack a pretty hair stick, so I resort to the old standby, a pencil. Many of the memories in my grandma's house are comforting, and many of the things associated with the memories are still there, still in the same places. My grandparents were always the safe port in a storm. This desk has always been the phone desk. The molded fiberglass chair with the flattened pillow has allows been the uncomfortable seat in front of the desk. The Plymouth telephone book has always rested in front of the chair, open to the inside cover where Grandma wrote her important phone numbers. At some point she stopped rewriting and tore off the cover of the old phone book and paper clipped it into every new book that came along. Various other numbers were also paperclipped, whether business cards or ads from the paper.

The pencil had always been in the top right desk drawer, along with its other half-dozen companions. I realized those pencils had to be as old as me. (I brought the pencil home with me. Perhaps each time I visit from now on I'll bring one of those vintage pencils back.)

I must have made some comment about liking the desk, or the desk still being here, and Grandma said, "Grandpa made that desk."

"He what? He made it? I never knew that. When did he make it?"

Mom said, "Yeah, he made that in the 50s." All my life it never occurred to me it was that old, nor that he made it. To me, it never aged, but now as I examine the photo, I see the yellowing of the glue that peeks around the edges of the laminate. And now that I show Steve, he says, "My dad made one something like that too. I wonder if they both worked from a template in 'Popular Mechanics'. My mom had it in her hair styling shop."

I said then, "I wonder if I could inherit it." Grandma said, "I'll put it on the list." Mom commented it didn't go with any of her stuff. I'd kind of wondered about that. In the past Grandma told us who would inherit what particular antiques, mostly a few particular dishes. I wondered if plans were being made about the many things in her big house. She often says, "I always wanted a big house." I liked that it was kind of nonchalant. Yes, Grandma's stuff would have to go somewhere after she dies, and yes, if there are things we are fond of, we could ask for them.

I slid the drawers in and out just as I did when I was a little girl, and I wonder at how he made the drawers fit just right. I marvel at how all this time I took for granted that this thing came from a store ready-made. Suddenly this desk that embodied comforting memories now carried a piece of my grandpa.

The conversation moved on to other things my grandpa made. Grandma said, "That guy. He was always coming home with TV cabinets. Those chairs were made from TV cabinets." I didn't know that. I decided to wander around the house and take photos of things my grandpa made.

things my grandpa made Of course I always knew the things my grandpa made
bar was made from TV cabinets. (That's my mom.)

See? : things my grandpa made more to come....

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