Library Desk: Doors and Desks
When I was at Harvard I only knew one white southern boy. He was half a hippy, half a southern aristocrat. As I remember it, he told wonderful stories of growing up in the vicinity of southern writers and he made their homes sound enchanted if complicated. The boy's own parents, if I am remembering correctly, were trust fund babies who went through all of their money then founded a company based on making furniture out of doors and got rich again.
I hadn’t thought of my first southern hippy friend in many years until we started moving into our big empty house on Blair Boulevard. Our house was built in 1913 for a single family. Along the way it got turned into five a apartments and five layers of shingles were thrown up on the roof. Two owners before us turned it back into a single family home took off many of the doors and piled them up in the old stone garages.
When we moved in, a young friend of mine, Carter Little, who has roots in the South and roots in Chicago, turned one of the old brown varnished doors into the desk in my office and one of the old white painted doors into our kitchen table.
For the kitchen table Carter built his own saw horses and did everything uber-carefully. He had glass cut to fit over the the wood and provide a smooth service though the door itself was paneled. The kitchen table was very labor intensive and very expensive. And it is very beautiful shining white and very efficient. You can feed ten, roll out dough for unlimited, and plate for twenty on its slick glass surface.
My desk is different. It's rough with recessed panels. It’s just a refinished door on top of store-bought and hand-stained saw horses but it’s perfect for writing out the bills and perfect, when fitted with stiff fancy English placemates supported by balls of playdough, as a dining table for six. From the desk I look out into an old football field and a constant trickle of traffic and walkers. My mother-in-law teasingly calls our home "the house by the side of the road". We call it Longpage. One day I hope somebody drags that boy whose parents started the furniture store to one of our Bar Blairs. I would love for him to see what his stories inspired.