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One summer evening, right after we finished supper, we were sitting around the kitchen table, sorta unwinding, so to speak.
That’s when Mama uttered her current wish and this one wouldn’t wait until Christmas.
Her heart wasn’t longing for a new dress or set of fine china. I could tell by the look on Daddy’s face he knew that Mama meant business.
“I need a work table under the big mulberry tree between the back porch and the garden gate,” she said.
Our Victory Garden was going good. We had plenty of ripe tomatoes and cucumbers ‘bout every evening.
“The okra and corn is looking promising, too,” Daddy said.
Mama mentioned an old table in the plunder house. Shucks, even I knew that table was on its last leg.
Daddy could take a hint. The table talk ended that evening when he said, “I’ll see about getting you a table.”
Good and bad, I had learned that Major Evans was good to his word.
That very next day, when Daddy pulled into the driveway, our little Model A was loaded down with a pile of rough-looking planks.
“These boards came from machinery boxes shipped into the mill,” he said. “Got’em free for just hauling them off.”
As we unloaded and stacked them, Daddy told me not to make any picture show plans for the weekend. We had a table to build and it would commence on Saturday.
That morning after breakfast, we got out the power tools and saw horses and went to work.
These were some power tools, too: a hand saw, claw hammer, adjustable Crescent wench, a brace and bit.
Now, if you wonder what a brace and bit is, it was yesterday’s answer to an electric drill without the electricity. The operator provided all the power that was needed.
I stood back while the construction was going on, although Daddy did use me for all of the fetching. I might not have been the best at drivin’ nails, but knew how to hold’em.
Before sundown, there was a big sturdy work table set up under that big mulberry tree.
As we stood there looking at “our” handiwork, he shook his head at “our” outcome.
“It’s seasoned oak,” he said. “It’ll stand up good for a while, rain or shine.”
He sent me to get Mama.
Now, Mama was smart, too.
Mama didn’t require such a wonderful work table, but she knew enough to fuss and brag over that thing. She was savvy enough to grease the way for future projects.
She was still talking about it at church the next morning.
Mama was right. Harvesting vegetables, washing them and letting them dry on that table worked real good. I would like to have a nickel for every rattlesnake or cannon ball watermelon sliced on that table.
On that very same table, my brand new, second-hand bicycle got its overhaul and was left to dry after a paint job.
We packed freshly washed eggs on that table before toting them to Mr. Courtney at the Lancaster Bakery on Gay Street.
That work table became a fixture in our yard. Over the years, that table survived World War II, a Victory Garden, watermelon cuttings, corn shucking, equipment repairs and served as the assembly staging area for many a cardboard project.
But all good things have to end. One stormy night, a huge limb broke off from the old Mulberry tree. Doggone if that limb slammed right on top of Mama’s outdoor table, smashing it into kindling.
With Mama’s chickens gone, and the need for a peacetime vegetable patch no longer required, clearing away the old boards was almost like carrying away the casket of a dearly departed family member.
I’d wager there’s something around your house that used to be important and useful and in this modern age, has been left to the ravages of time and weather.
But we still miss it, don’t we?