A tale of two desks

By Kay Conklin - Contributing columnist

As I moved my hand across the top of my desk just now, I was again aware of what a beautiful desk it is. It was made so well, that I have to look closely to see the line between the individual boards that make up the top. And, I am reminded that my son-in-law clamped and glued each of these boards together to build this desk. If it wasn’t for the different grain in each board, I wouldn’t be able to tell where one board begins and the other ends.

It was a retirement gift from our daughter, Cathy, and her husband, Butch (His real name was Raymond). This handmade, hardwood cherry desk started as a hardwood cherry tree growing somewhere in this area of Ohio. Until now, I didn’t know there is a difference between what is called the hardwood cherry tree, and the regular cherry trees that produce the cherries we eat. A hardwood cherry is known for the beauty of it’s grain, thus is used when building very nice furniture.

This particular tree was cut down and sawed into boards by Clear Run Lumber Co., which is just east of here. They also dried and planed it, on one side, so it would be ready to begin construction. While Cathy and Butch were visiting here in the summer of 2004, Butch bought enough board feet for two desks. He took those boards to their home in Florida, drew up the plans himself, and built the first desk for Cathy, and the second desk for me.

I didn’t know Butch was making this desk for me until January of 2005, right after I had retired. What a nice surprise it was! When he told us that my desk was finished and ready to be picked up, George and I drove our truck to Florida to bring it home. It is so beautiful! It has all the parts for a computer to take up residence: the slide-out shelf where the keyboard sits, as well all four drawers that are 32 inches in length. It was built in three different pieces: the beautiful large top, which is 34-by-60 inches, and then the two separate filling cabinet-type drawers that are the right size to hold the top at the exact level necessary for me to use while sitting here. The drawers have beautiful handles with a matching handle for the door.

It’s hard for me to imagine all the work it took to build this desk, in all its perfection. However, inside the upper right hand drawer is an album of pictures Cathy had taken of every step as Butch was building it in his shop. The dates on the pictures show that it took three months for him to build it. Cathy took 60 pictures of the entire progression from the first boards sitting in the shop to the finished product. She then put them in a 5-by-7-inch album that is to always stay in one of the drawers in the desk. It’s interesting to know that this hardwood cherry tree that grew right here in central Ohio, is ending up staying in central Ohio.

I have spent nearly every day for the past 13 years sitting at my desk: writing, e-mailing, or looking up stuff. It’s the nicest piece of furniture I have in the house. Did you know that if you take a bar of soap and rub it along the tops of the sides of open drawers, they will slide in and out more easily? I didn’t, but I do now! Cathy put a bar of pink Camay hand soap in one of the drawers for me to use, and it’s still there.

This article isn’t like my others, that are about horses and kids, nor is it about old Delaware. It is just about two desks, mine and Cathy’s. We took another load of hardwood cherry boards with us when we went to Florida to pick up this desk. Those cherry boards were purchased in Ohio because you can buy that type of wood more inexpensively here, than what it would cost in Florida. Those boards were supposed to be used, by Butch, to build new cupboards for their kitchen.

Sadly, the new cupboards never got built because Butch became very ill, and died 11 years ago this month. Although Cathy doesn’t have new cherry kitchen cupboards, she took all the doors off of the top row of the old cupboards, and the kitchen looks very nice that way.

That load of cherry wood we took down in 2005, is stored in her shop, up near the rafters. Who knows what it will eventually be used for? What I do know, is that thanks to Butch, it will never be for anything as special as the two identical desks he built: the one that was for Cathy, and the one that was for me.


By Kay Conklin

Contributing columnist

Kay E. Conklin is a retired Delaware County recorder who served four terms. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a degree in sociology and anthropology.

Kay E. Conklin is a retired Delaware County recorder who served four terms. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a degree in sociology and anthropology.