Grandma’s Desk

“There is something wonderful about a desk where words have been set down and worked. Yes, something beautiful!”

c e hollis

This old desk is mine now. It has been in my parent’s home since I can remember. It was grandmother Cleo’s desk before that. Cleo Robinson Brink was the grandmother I am named after. I carry her first name though I go by my middle name Elece. I wasn’t close to Her. I never came to know her well.

My grandfather, who built the little desk, was Earnest Kent Brink and he was a carpenter. I never met him at all as he died of a strange malady, possibly some type of undiagnosed cancer, when he was only forty-three. Grandmother was left to raise four children who were teenagers when she became a young widow. To have this handcrafted piece of their lives is a blessing to me.

The desktop folds down and is held by chains. The cubbyholes are small and could have held few items. The drawers were full. One with old family photos including one of Daddy posing in military uniform with the fighter Jack Dempsey.

I wonder about the desk. What did the cubbyholes hold? An ink well and fountain pen? Did it hold letters to be answered and stamps for the mailing? Did it hold a pair of spectacles, an ornate letter opener, pencils, a pair of scissors, a ruler, tape?

The drawers of this small desk hold some family heirlooms, some treasures that Dad (shown above at age 18 with Mama) wanted to be certain were valued as he had valued them. Ration books from war time, Army Air Force hats, an old water canteen, some family record books including a ledger that shows expenses and sales, a flag that must have been given Grandmother when her husband died, a serviceman’s New Testament, a birdwatching book, photographs, and military emblems and documents, etc. All these are treasures that held deep meaning to my dad.

The old ledger from the desk drawer seems to from a store. One page is a record for a woman named Florence Brubaker Hodge who put in 282 hours and was paid $170.00 for the three months of work. She was paid in January of 1950. 59 cents an hour? Others are records of fruit, eggs, cream, other store goods, and cattle feed bought and sold.

The old desk––my Grandmother’s desk built for her by her husband and cherished over many years by her and by my own father. What a tresure chest has been added to the farmhouse.

I needed this bit of the past because it holds stories that help determine what my present holds. I need to look back at times to my roots, to my heritage. This helps me find stability in the rapid passage of time and in the grand scheme of life.

What do you imagine you would like to find should your parent leave you such an antique piece of family? What did your grandfather do for a living? What was important to your ancestors? What family treasures do you wish you held? What will your grandchildren find of yours to keep?


“ Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the Lord: Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn.”

Isaiah 51:1 NIV

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