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If This Desk Could Talk

05 Feb
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Senator’s Drafting Table, circa. 1911

My drafting table tends to generate a lot of discussion. Maybe you own something that generates conversation too. I wonder what tales this desk would tell if it could talk.

I usually get two questions right out of the gate. Do you stand to work? And, how old is the desk?

Do I stand to work? Often, yes. Why? Preference, I guess.

Where did I find the drafting table? Believe it or not, Beth found this drafting table at a garage sale from Rebecca Salley in Oviedo, Florida on February, 2004. For years I had wanted a standup desk but building one was cost prohibitive. Beyond its sturdy craftsmanship which includes tongue-in-groove corners on the three drawers that can be locked or unlocked with the original skeleton key, what is most fascinating is the history of the desk.

It was owned by George W. Bland of West Virginia. He was a senator from 1911-1914 for the 12th district of West Virginia. That earned him the nickname “Senator,” which is how his friends referred to him the rest of his life. Rebecca Salley, the lady from whom we bought the desk, is related to the “Senator.” 

Her father is Mr. Bland’s grandson wrote for me on the history of the drafting table. This is what he had to say about the it.

“Grandpa Bland was an Abstract Lawyer for Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey owned by John D. Rockefeller. He worked 32 years for the same company. He would go to the courthouse in any county where the company was trying to lease oil rights and check the title to be clear to be leased by this particular person. If all was OK he would draw up a map or blue print of the area for the company on this drafting table. It was always in the attic as long as I can recall.”

“Grandpa Bland was born December 31, 1866 at home in Blandville, WV, the family farm. He died June 14, 1941 when I was three years old and I do remember him and the funeral, which was in his home. His casket was in the office, first room to the left coming in the front door. He took me to Oscar`s for my first haircut. He died at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He had a kidney removed due to cancer and was doing fine for several days but died suddenly from a blood clot.”

“John Davis who ran for president in 1924 from Clarksburg, was a friend of Grandpa’s. I remember in the middle room in the attic, back to the window on the drafting table was a letter from William Jennings Bryant who also ran for president three times. In the letter he was thanking grandpa and ma for the hospitality while he was campaigning in the area and letting him stay there at Eastover, the name of the house where Grandpa lived and I grew up. I have no pictures of Bryant.”

See what I mean? If this desk could talk…

Note: The brown Stetson cowboy hat hanging to the left of the standup desk was given to me by my brother-in-law, Theo Jones. He purchased it on Whiskey Row in Prescott, AZ from a store that was going out of business. The hat is made from beaver felt and was made in the 1950’s. It’s the real deal!

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Posted by on February 5, 2014 in Inspirational Stories

 

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