Friday, August 31, 2007

Has anyone seen something like this?

My father game me a beautiful old stained and polished lap desk that is made from a board. He has fond memories of his maternal grandmother writing letters on it, as well as knitting and tatting on it. He said that his grandmother never sat down without some type of work to do, even when company was present. He said she found many uses for that board. Of course, Dad's memories make the board very special to me, as well.

The board is broad and smooth, with rounded edges. It has an inward curve just where it would hit your waist, so that you can draw the board up to you. At the top back, there are inches marked off and painted -- much as you would see on a yardstick. Dad said that my grandmother had a chair that allowed her to use that board easily.

Dad's memories are starting to get a little cloudy, so I would like to find out as much about this kind of lap desk as possible while we can still talk about it and his memories of his grandmother.

Dad thinks the lap desk goes back several generations in the family before it came to his grandmother. Dad's maternal grandparents lived in Tennessee, where he was born and raised. But, they came to Tennessee from Missouri. Before Missouri, this branch of the family had lived in Pennsylvania. They were of German descent.

Has anyone seen such a lap desk?

My great-grandmother was still very vigorous when my father was young. She ran her household according to the energetic and orderly German methods of her fore-mothers.

However, she could not have been a young woman at the time my father remembers her. Her oldest daughter -- my father's mother -- was 42 when Dad was born. Dad was at least five when he formed his most vivid memories of his grandmother. So, she would have been old enough then to have had a 47 year old daughter by then. She died when my Dad was about in the fourth or fifth grade.

I know women used to use lap desks for correspondence. But, I didn't know that they used them to support handwork as well. Would the inches at the back have been for a school type purpose originally? Or, would they have been a way to measure stitches or lace?

I wonder if it was because of my grandmother's age that she used the lap desk to support her handwork, as well as for writing letters. Or, did other women use lap desks when doing handwork, as well? I'm not sure about the age thing, as I've never heard any indication that she allowed age to be an excuse to slow down. Neither did one of my mother's great-grandmothers, who raised twelve children, kept a plantation going while her husband was away at the Civil War, survived two unpleasant encounters with raiding soldiers, rode horses will into her seventies, and lived into the 1920's. And neither did one of her daughters, who married at 16 and went off from Tennessee with her new husband to tame part of Texas. After she was widowed, she lived by herself until she was 101. The family finally forced her to move in with relatives, and she lived on until she was 103. Ok, I'm feeling more than a little wimpy right now. :)

Anyhow, if you have ever seen a lap desk/board like the one I described and know something about this kind of lap desk, please let me know.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have a lap board like the one you are describing. My great-grandfather made it for my great-grandma probably in the 40's or 50's. She would use it to do some handwork on and to read and write off of. She had a small leather recliner that it was sized to. Mine doesn't have the ruler markings though.