"One Trusted with Private or Secret Matters"

The title Administrative Assistant (or Personal Assistant, I hear more working with Europe), now much more in fashion than Secretary. There's baggage that goes with the term — but its origin as one who is entrusted with keeping secrets (post's title from Dictionary.com) has a noble heritage. Jefferson was secretary of state; that's good enough for me to be secretary of our comic nonprofit.

More than a decade ago, my grandparents had the family claim the household items we wanted for when the time came. I'd already taken some photos, some arts and crafts they made, put my name on a few more, but there was only one piece of furniture that I wanted:

The secretary had always sat in the living room. Grandpa built it in 1947. Its trip to Santa Fe last month did not go well; the accompanying chair (at the left, above) sustained some damage, but a local furniture restorer was able to repair it seamlessly.

For now, it resides in the spare room, also in a bit of flux. When I got it into the house, I just started opening and closing all the drawers, looking in the little cubby holes designed for pens and pencils and stamps and letter openers and checkbooks and whatnot. It dates from a time when your office was a corner of whatever room you could fit in; but now, we've got whole room with a sprawling desk, file cabinets and bookshelves. I use maybe one check a month, bills don't get mailed. The laptop could sit on top, probably fit on the open desktop, but any co-worker can attest how hard I hit the keyboard.

I was showing it off to the furniture restorer, who just kept going on about the craftsmanship, what great shape it's in (seriously, it was like Antiques Roadshow), how he wanted to shake Grandpa's hand. Just oil and take care of it, and it would outlast us all — it's the kind of piece that becomes an antique.

There's a separate bookshelf unit for the top that I'm admittedly conflicted about. We don't need shelves there. It's very, very Colonial. And, really, it changes the whole nature of the piece; I enjoy the compactness of it, its dimensions without the shelves. Originally I had thought to repurpose the shelf unit — the way the wood from the coffee table I also wound up with was repurposed from a TV cabinet. But after the restorer's comments, I don't know if I should break up the set.

I oiled it today, moved it to its location for the foreseeable future. For now, the secretary is kind of awaiting its purpose. Some of the domestic office work may find its way there, or it may wind up being for guests. It's proven itself trustworthy, and somehow it'll find its way to handling private and secret matters again.

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