February Furniture: A Blacksmith’s Desk

February first found me still in Minnesota unable to drive home through the ice and snow of Iowa. I was on deadline so I wrote through my Aunt Linda’s superbowl party feeling a bit ungracious and unsocial.

But eureka! There was an old story to unearth at Aunt Linda’s! She too has been the recipient of many family furniture treasures which are waiting to tell their stories. One such piece sits in the corner of Linda’s garage. It’s a stripped antique fold down desk maybe from the late nineteenth century with some Scandinavian carved vines with berries on the folding front.

The story goes–according to Aunt Linda– that the desk was the business desk in my great granddad’s blacksmith shop in Dawson, Minnesota. My Grandpa Bing acquired the desk and stripped it, or tried to strip it, of its blackened blacksmith grit and dust. He also repaired the desk, adding some sections broken with time and use.

My mother remembers the family blacksmith shop, sold before my Aunt Linda’s time. The shop and the outhouse sat away from the house. My mother was not allowed in the shop she supposes because of the fire danger. But maybe also because the liquor was stored there for use during Sunday family picnics. She remembers passing the shop on the way to the outhouse knowing the men where inside drinking.

Aunt Linda, like all of us entrusted with family memories, did not know what to do with the desk. I suggested, only because my friend Cynthia has taught me this, that she wax the desk front and hang it up.

So she did. Now the old desk is better poised to speak of those who came before us embodying a chapter in the constant collection of our family story.

Check out these before and after photos! Aunt Linda thinks the blackness in the crevices are blacksmith remains… which of course seasons the story…

Door Before WaxDoor after wax

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