“Girls and Typing,” and “The Wee Little Craftsman Style Kid’s Desk”; Seeing the Timelessness of Gustav’s Vision.
(M.D. DeCou copywrite 1-16-2007)
I got worried about using someone’s name without asking permission. So from now on, I will try to use “fake” names to represent the innocent, and in this story, the 50% guilty. The actual names are not essential to enjoying my old antics and consequences.
Girls & Typing:
Well, yesterday I got sort of carried away with the keyboard and ended up writing an eight page Blog. Sorry for that, just because I write, doesn’t mean you have to read it all. This one is three pages, so be warned.
This keyboard and I have a strange relationship anyway, as I never imagined while taking “Typing” in Mrs. “SMITH’s” class in High School that I would ever need the skill of hitting the keys. I was going to be an architect, or engineer in those days, and I sure didn’t plan to be anyone’s secretary. I learned during my first job out of college with Exxon that I was expected to be able to type. It was in my little 3rd floor corner office at Exxon that I tried to teach myself to type for the first time.
You see, I took “Typing” in High School for all the wrong reasons. First, I thought I would get an “Easy A”, but more importantly, the class always had a lot of girls in it. I guess I could say that I “majored” in Shop Class and Drafting while suffering through the other State required electives. Most girls didn’t take shop classes, so in my last year of High School, I dreamed of a class full of girls. So, I enrolled in Typing.
The Typing class did have a lot of girls, and I found myself sitting beside “SUE” for the full nine weeks of the 3rd quarter. Then it was apparent why I had suffered through an entire 1st semester of typing instructions, and I wasn’t going to waste the opportunity.
“SUE” was a lot of fun and very cute, and so I quickly started to scheme how to make a positive impact on her. Now, some guys would offer to do bits of service, like carry her books, or do her homework, or something selfless, and service oriented. I decided to mess up her typing grade, and started to randomly poke my finger over on her key board during timed typing tests. She thought it was funny, and returned the favor.
So, we both made a practice of messing with each other’s keyboards during “timed tests.” I would reach over and poke a key on her computer messing up her correct word count, and she would reach over and do the same to me. It was fun, she would laugh, and I didn’t care about the mistakes on my test in those days. I didn’t need to learn typing anyway so, I couldn’t have cared less about the timed test. “SUE” was the cutest girl in my school and I wanted to take advantage of my position being assigned to the typewriter next to her, a cheerleader. Woah!
Now, most girls would just scream out and “tell on” me for such antics, but “SUE” was different. She enjoyed the mischief, and so this key “stabbing” would go back and forth over the full 9 week quarter. Then, (dramatic pause), one morning she reached over and poked more than one key on my electric typewriter (remember those?) and the little letter arms all came up together and jammed, making a loud grinding noise and sounding like a monkey wrench had been thrown into a flywheel. Soon, smoke was rising from the inside of the machine and I quickly turned off the power button.
Now, Mrs. “SMITH” only played the role of not being able to see or hear anything in class (probably a coping mechanism she learned as she closed in on retirement). But, let me assure you that when “that” racket came from the typewriter, she was on top of the situation like stink on skat. None of us kids in the room realized that she could move so fast. At that moment, “SUE” and I realized that Ole’ Mrs. “SMITH” had been watching us play this “key-poke” game for 9 weeks trying to ignore it until we graduated and she retired. But, that day she had finally reached her limit to “let it go.”
This poor little old woman came down off of her tall stool in the corner, grabbed me by the ear, pulling me skyward, and pointing to the door for both “SUE” and I to head out. I wasn’t really scared, I was graduating in a few months, and besides, I’d walk to the gallows if I could walk with “SUE”. So, we walked together down to the Vice Principal’s office with Mrs. “SMITH” following close behind.
Vice Principal “JONES” listened to poor Mrs. “SMITH” tell about our mischief and the costly result. He was a huge man, the largest I ever knew in person, and I was quite worried about him. The rumors of his merciless whippings of delinquents had become common knowledge among all school kids, even the ones in lower grades in other schools. He was a fearsome looking man, and had a reputation to match. He looked very serious, and stern, and I started to fear his wrath, and I felt the room start to spin (something I have learned that happens to me whenever I am caught in a high stress situation).
He sat back and listened to Mrs. “SMITH”, then nodded, assuring her that he would handle the situation. After Mrs. “SMITH left his office, he pointed for me to wait outside while he talked with “SUE”. Now, I knew she would be fine, who could whip that cute girl anyway? I even daydreamed a little about how I would rush in and wrestle the paddle from Mr. “JONES” and save her, winning her heart for all time. I was a bit more of a daydreamer than a man of action, so I hoped it really didn’t come down to that.
“SUE” was told to go back to class and not talk to me on the way out of the administration office. She didn’t get spanked, she wasn’t crying, and she even smiled a little as she walked by. Since I grew up with a younger sister, I was used to seeing girls with at least 50% culpability walk by smiling as I waited for my punishment. I knew from experience that her smiling had no bearing on my own punishment, and so I waited.
Mr. “JONES” called me into his office and asked me to sit down. I had been under his authority for four years causing all kinds of mischief and havoc, and had never been caught in it before. I was one of those sly pranksters, the kind that never do anything real destructive, but I was never sitting quietly without thinking through some new prank to draw some attention and notoriety.
Here I was, finally caught, and I started to feel his awesome power. He looked at me for a long time, and then leaned forward in his seat putting his elbows on his knees.
He sort of whispered to me, “she’s pretty cute, huh?”
“You’ve been trying to get her attention haven’t you?”
“Your antics broke school property you know?”
Now, I learned with my dad young in life not to deny responsibility when it was obvious. It always went easier for me, and I continued that tactic with Mr. “JONES”.
He leaned back and put his hands behind his head, “you graduate in a few months you know?”
He paused a long time, “I’m going to bill you and “SUE $12.00 for the repair cost of the typewriter, and you’ll need to work it out between the two of you who pays.”
“Now, get back to class and try to control yourself.”
I rose from my seat and keeping my loose mouth shut for once, and walked out.
Back in class “SUE” said she would pay her half, and so for $6.00 I got the chance to walk the hall to the office with “SUE”. Pretty good deal the way I figured it. Sadly though, that “hard C” from Mrs. “SMITH” kept me from graduating with honors from High School. It wasn’t my only “C”, but coupled with my poor Accounting class with old Mr. “BROWN”, it was enough to destroy an otherwise stellar grade, and some scholarship money. Live and learn, move on. It was worth it. Mr. “JONES” died in a terrible car crash just a few years ago, and I still think of him kindly over these years for offering mercy to me.
Now, why did I tell you that story? No reason really.
Here is the real reason I blogged this morning:
Seeing the Timelessness of Gustav’s Vision:
I make quite a few walking canes, and I have been gaining a local reputation for them. There is a store called Hatman Jack’s Wichita Hatworks down in the big city of Wichita. Jack is a cool guy and he likes my canes enough to take them on consignment.
About a month ago a woman was in his store, saw my canes, took my card, and called me. My wife answered, and the woman told her that her father had passed away and left a nice cane that she wanted to go to a good home. Since she had seen my canes at the store in Wichita, she felt that I would make a good home for her dad’s cane. All I needed to do was come and get it. A little less than a week later, I was in Wichita doing some sales consulting work, and so I called the woman and made an appointment to pickup the cane.
I entered her beautiful, large home and immediately was confronted and surprised to see it full of “stuff.” She quickly explained that her father had been very successful having a 10,000 sqft home full of nice furnishings. Her father had died, and now all of the belongings were delivered to her house for sorting. She walked me through her large house and the amount of “stuff” was overwhelming to both of us. She said that the cane was in the basement, if I would follow her down there she would get it.
Now, normally, I don’t follow people I don’t know to the basement, especially women who’s husbands are at work (I’ve seen too many movies). But, I decided to trust her and followed to the basement. As we walked through the “stuff” she showed me her parent’s large collection of furniture, all French Provincial style, and the many boxes of stuff that had to be sorted. Down in the basement were more boxes, including a whole room of her college son’s stuff that she was storing for him, and more of her parent’s things.
As we walked through all of the stuff she asked if there was anything I saw that I could use. She explained that she just had to start getting rid of the things and get her life back in order. I looked through all of it, and since I am not akin to French Provincial style, and already have a small house full of stuff, I declined to take everything we saw.
We came back up from the basement safely, and on the back porch in the corner, behind a tall pile of boxes, I found something interesting. Sitting quietly in the corner was a small child’s desk made from quartersawn white oak, in the Craftsman style. The side of the desk had a 4” wide highly “flaked” panel with a little Craftsman style motif cutout in the panel. It was adorable.
This poor little desk had three or four boxes piled on it, and with the boxes in the room, I couldn’t make my way over to it. As we continued to walk by piles of stuff declining everything I saw, I said, “Um, I would take that little desk over there in the corner.” She stopped, turned around and looked at it. She paused then said, “No, I’m sorry, that is an item that my husband and I are keeping.”
I was almost choked up with laughter. Here, with an entire two homes worth of furniture piled into her house that she was trying to get rid of, the only thing I wanted other than the cane, was not available.
The irony of it was humorous to me. Her parent’s furniture was probably the finest French Provincial style factory made, store bought, furniture money could buy in the 1940-1950 time frame. Today, nobody wanted it.
However, a humble little quartersawn white oak Craftsman style kid’s desk, always can find a home. Way to go Gustav! You were not only a marketing genius and a man of vision, but designed some timeless beauties that are still treasured today, even from across the room under a pile of boxes.
Thanks for listening,
-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan - www.decoustudio.com