In 1930, due to the Great Depression, we moved from Gainesville, Florida to Orlando where dad started out as an agent for New York Life Insurance Company armed only with a rate book and a sincere concern for individuals he may serve. His first desk was the dining room table. Later, in another house (with lower rent), a large roll top desk was an improvement where he kept his felt hat, crown down, on the top. One bone chilling morning, when leaving for an appointment, he tried to lift his hat by the brim and it was shockingly heavy! Quickly looking inside, a sleepy “meow” greeted him from our kitten who had found a tailor made bed in a drafty old house. Amused and being a kindly man, dad gently removed kitty and donned his pre-warmed hat. At the supper table that night, we all enjoyed hearing about the surprise in his hat and laughing together at kitty’s ingenuity.
The desk in this painting was one dad bought when a homeowner again. Once, when he was out of town, I straightened it, adding a rose in a vase knowing how pleased he’d be on his return as it was in the dining room before all. On seeing my thoughtfulness, horrification set in, his system was all messed up! I learned not to touch his desk until given permission for this study in 1979, when he was eighty-five. Afterwards, I put everything back. He used to phone me from the office and say, “Sis, sift through those papers on my desk and find such and such for me.” Sift was a good word for it!
In 1981, when dad was eighty-seven and home from the hospital after cancer surgery, I managed to complete the drawing part of this painting for him to see and I could tell, it cheered him. Many months later, mom looked at the finished work and said from her heart, “ There’s my Sam.” In missing him after sixty-eight years together, the painting was a real comfort to her. I remember the retired Irish nurse coming back on duty and asking dad while he was in the hospital, “How did the marriage last so long!” His original answer brought spontaneous laughter. “I picked a peach out of a barrel of lemons.”
Now that dad is in his Heavenly Home, I’m using his desk and I sometimes find myself needing to “sift through” my papers!