That confessional utterance attracted no response and no comment at all from any of the three H&W (husbands and wives) teams packed around the door to this …tiny shed room …filled with antiques. Aside from the scream of her plunge into antiques dealer oblivion coming to my inner mind from the ghost of my grandmother as SHE realized… as quick as I… that I had TRULY ‘given up the (HER) ghost’… nothing, no one, anything and everyone else… NOTHING happened and… we as gathered throng, in an unguided manner, shuffled back to the kitchen of the home with that direction known to be the final statement-from-I end location of this… ‘walk through’.
What actually had happened, I deduced and reduced in hindsight, was that THEY had seen so many what THEY considered antiques that… it was fully obvious and decided already by them that the estate was loaded with “valuable” “antiques” and I would be affirming that NOW so the shed room discovery of a such a thing as a ‘Sophia’s desk’… looked to THEM no more an antique found than everything else looked ‘antiques found’. I personally and professionally missed that point. Therefore my even handed brush away of all the ‘stuff’ in the ‘estate’ as “not being anything you have to worry about”.
“What does that mean?”
“That the stuff is typical estate household goods and can be dispersed as that”.
“You know; divided, sold, whatever.”
“Well… yes; all of those except the desk. That your gonna want to pay attention to; the desk.”
“The Tambour desk.”
I continue: “In the little room back there.” I say gesturing to the kitchen door leading out to the shed, etc.
“That desk is good.” (note: A statement).
“Yes. The best thing”.
“The best thing?”
“Best antique; great little desk”.
“In his tool room.”
“IN the SHED there; that little room”.
“That’s the best antique”.
“What about the rest? The antiques?”
“There’s not anything as good as the desk”.
(Why am I doing this? Saying this? As my grandmother’s ghost screams? Because of Charles; because of HIS ghost. ‘Telling them’ about the desk is …what I would have done with Charles: I would have… told Charles... the same… almost. The ‘almost’ is that I would have jumped-up an antiquarian identification of the desk; this find, to Charles to include the Sophia’s desk saga, my grandmother’s utterance and the Captain Merritt Kimball estate heritage… that he would have …affirmed AND told me the ‘how he got it (the desk)’. HOW ? THAT… I was ‘core focused’ on RIGHT THEN… so… from historic estate lore vantage, I was doing the right thing ‘for Charles’ even though… and correctly… by failing to follow my grandmother’s ghost’s directive of ‘shut-up-and-screw-it (Sophia’s desk)-out-of-them’… ‘I’d blown it’. My words for this last).
That mutated right here and now:
“That desk. That is the most valuable. Antique.” said a Mrs. of a ‘H&W’ team.
“Well… How much is THAT worth then?” she blurted, sort of, as a… sort of… by mistake and …condescending inflected of her rising …but kept to herself… ‘opinion’ that I … was out for myself… and also appeared to ‘not know what (I) was doing’.
I… being back-there focused on Charles’ how he got the Sophia’s desk… messed up my response to that face slap by… slapping back with the blunt “Fifteen THOUSAND on a good day”.
THAT created a silent pause from everyone in the H&W teams in the kitchen.
A second woman then blurted “Fifteen thousand?”
“Yes. But it would have to be done right.”
“Sold properly to get that much”.
“Right; the sale managed properly.”
“The other antiques don’t need THAT?”
“No. Just the desk. That’s the most valuable.”
“WE couldn’t really even SEE that desk. Isn’t it all taken apart?”
“Yeah but it looks like it’s all there; like Charles just put it in there when he got it.
“Why did he put it THERE?”
“Oh… probably was storing it. Maybe fix it; set it up.”
“His workshop right?” I said.
“Oh. Well. What about the desk out here?” she said pointing out of the kitchen toward the front of the house.
“It’s fine. No big deal”.
“It’s not as valuable as that other desk?”
“Well I like that one better. How much is that worth”.
“Eighty-five; a hundred”.
“Well I LIKE that desk. Why isn’t THAT ONE worth fifteen thousand?”
My… ‘it’s time to go’ light came on. Turning the estate BACK OVER to the three H&W teams was done by I… briskly. I dropped the desk talk, told them that, again, excluding the ‘that desk’ they were safe to go at it without fear of ‘selling something valuable too cheap”. They wanted ‘an appraisal’. I said no that costs a lot of money and you don’t need one. Then no I will not do one even if you pay me. Then ‘your on your own’. Then… ‘what ever price you want just make ‘em high you can always come down’. Finally I ‘no I don’t want to buy anything”. And left. All of this ‘back out’ went along pretty well because THEY wanted me backed out TOO so that they could get down to their… firefight… of dividing up ‘the good stuff’.
I knew I would be back… soon. Once the in-house ‘distribution’ firefight was ‘done’ and ‘the clean out’ of the… actually ‘tons’ of ‘stuff’ ‘left’… including Sophia’s desk… I ‘would be back’. I spent the interim moments …in chance moment thoughts… as to the “HOW?” question of Charles and the desk. My thoughts were beyond proof but deductive in following a hypothetical trail from ‘back then’.
The desk and the other antiques in the shed room all came at one time from the small ‘lady’s parlor’ behind (‘off’) the front parlor at the front of the …Captain Merritt Kimball estate. All of those furnishings were put in the lady’s parlor beginning with the desk ‘brought back from Salem’ to be “Sophia’s desk’. From 1806 or earlier… or later… to …the 1820’s to the… 1840’s to the …Civil War… and after… THE Sophia of the home ‘used’ the desk in the ‘lady’s parlor’. And here and there ‘decorated’ the room …here and there… to ‘their’ and ‘current’ ‘taste’. THEN (1870-1920) the parlor evolved to a …more reclusive… used-by-the-then-current-Sophia’s …‘room’ and ‘desk’… as… Victorian New England became… 1920’s ‘post war’ New England. It became Rufus’ mother’s ‘desk’ and ‘room’. And she… the that generation Sophia… had a nervous breakdown? “I was always told” …by people who were ‘always told’… SO: She was moved to a of-its-time PROPER ‘home’ of assisted living by Rufus and his brother who …as all even today… envisioned such a move as INCLUDING ‘just the way they were’ that INCLUDED moving THE DESK and other familiar room contents… “TO THERE”. And THAT didn’t pan out because of the same reasons it doesn’t ever pan out even today; institutional settings do not ‘accommodate’ PAST lives. SO… the ‘stuff’ didn’t go to OR was soon removed from “that”. And CHARLES did all of “that”. As he was told to do it by Rufus and his brother who… ALSO SAID “NO DON’T PUT IT BACK WE DON’T WANT IT PUT IT IN A BARN OR WHY DON’T YOU …can just have it. And THEN they made the lady’s parlor into the NEW kind of room appearing in old Maine sea captain’s estates; a “TV” “den”, starting… about, 1958 (?). But certainly there; ‘TV den’, by 1962 when my grandmother ‘was in there’. And Charles DID ‘have it’ in his shed and… never touched any of it ever again after he ‘unloaded’ it ‘that day’. And… never thought it either ‘valuable’ or ‘Sophia’s desk’ ever… too. That’s is ‘HOW’ Sophia’s desk ‘got there’.
I was ‘back at the house’ in less than a week to ‘we need help’. The desk wasn’t mentioned until after I been there a whole hour.