Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Favourite Things

Hello, hello! For this Tuesday's post, we have the pleasure of hearing from Joe of ProsperosBookshelf. Listen as he tells you about his Favorite Thing (You'll enjoy this):

My favorite thing: An oak desk my father made in the American Arts & Crafts style! Well, not really a desk, rather a traditional library table with three drawers on each side.

By profession my father was an electrotyper, not a carpenter, but his father was a carpenter who fell to his death from the roof of a schoolhouse
he was building in 1893, when my father, an only child, was eight years old. Years later when Dad married, his bride’s father gave the couple four acres of land and the foundation of a house as a wedding gift. Showing his carpentry skills, Dad built the house I grew up in (which still stands, nicely kept, in Portland, Maine) with beautiful oak glass front china cabinets in the dining room, fireplace surround and a built-in drop-leaf desk in the den, and a barrister’s stacked bookcase in the living room. And he built several pieces of furniture, including this library table.

I first remember the library table being in the living room. This was before we had a sofa. Very early in the 1930s, after we acquired more modern living room furniture, Dad closed in the front porch, and the library table went out there. I distinctly remember its being there because once, in a youthful fit of pique, I tried to hide under it on top of the footrest. Quite unsuccessfully, I’m afraid.

A great many years and events later, when my mother was in the mood to get rid of a few things, I happened to be home in time to acquire this most prized possession. I was teaching at Indiana University then, and the library table became my desk in our home in the little town of Nashville.

Now in our home on Naskeag Point in Brooklin, Maine, for many years it has been Mollie’s desk. There on its sturdy oak top Mollie runs Rough Magic Creations and helps me manage Prospero’s Bookshelf, while occasionally easing back in her creaky swivel chair to create jewelry and ponder the universe. The library table-cum-desk is approaching its 100th year. May we all at that age be as strong and look as great as this old oak desk.

What fun it is to imagine you hiding under the table and Mollie kicking back as she creates her jewels! Thank you so much, Joe, for painting such a vivid mental picture of your father's handsome Arts & Crafts handiwork. Now, I only wish I could see the house you grew up in!

Have a Favourite Thing you'd like to share with the team? Leave a comment and I'll get in touch or contact me via Etsy and next Tuesday's Favourite Thing could be yours. (It's either that, or I'll hunt you down and wrangle something out of you myself.)


  1. What a great favorite thing! The desk is beautiful. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  2. How wonderful it must be to have such a fine piece of craftsmanship in the family that you get to both cherish and actually use!

    So sorry about your grandpop, how horrible.

  3. joe~ this is such a wonderful his-story filled desk! I so thoroughly enjoyed reading it and love to imagine both you and mollie settled there and living life! thank you for sharing!

  4. Thanks, Joe, for this story. What a beautiful piece of furniture; I like being able to imagine both of you in that room..and Mollie at the desk!

  5. What a lovely story. & amazing pictures to illustrate the life of your wonderful table too!!! Thank you so much for sharing this with us Joe!

  6. Nothing but fabulous, of course, from one of my favorite Etsians. Joe's as good a story-teller as is Mollie! Thanks so much for sharing about your father and a little bit about your history, both past and present.

  7. What a wonderful story, Joe! And a fabulous desk to have and love! xo Cait

  8. What an amazing story. Such a beautiful desk and for so many reasons. Thanks for sharing this Joe!

  9. Fascinating! I think you should etch the story under the table surface, complete with the names of the cast of characters. It's a perfect "favorie thing," Joe. I enjoyed reading this.

  10. Joe, I enjoyed this story so much! Thanks for sharing it with us! :)