I could almost hear the shouts of newsmen past as the nails gave way with a chain of squeals. The layout table in the rear of our office had to move, and the slick-haired journalists of yesteryear were surely asking why I was prying apart a central necessity of the paper’s golden age. The trouble was it was too big to fit down the hall and through the door of what we decided would become our archive room.
Of course, like many a task, this has been something on our to-do list for several months. You see we found the sunlight was yellowing some of our archives over time, and the stacks needed to be moved farther into the office. Hence my self imposed task this week.
At first, things went well. All the filing cabinets and the back issue racks slid right down the hall on the cart and into place as planned. But I decided to leave the largest piece of furniture for last.
It looked like it would fit. It didn’t. We thought we could stand it up and angle it through. We couldn’t. If Ross Geller has been there, he would have been yelling at us to pivot, but it wouldn’t have helped.
The layout table won that day as we decided the only way to finish our archive move was the remove the Masonite top. Yet somehow the darn thing seemed to be secured by magic after we removed the three-inch screws from the two cross beams. So the table won again.
The thing wasn’t built to come apart.
In the end, we found nails and screws hidden beneath two different layers of paint — dehydrated Okoboji maroon on top of pistachio green. And as I slowly pulled away one layer of the puzzle, it gave way to another. Soon, I began to become aware of just how someone’s hands had pieced this behemoth of a table together. It was in three pieces but I under stood it more.
Tables like this one aren’t part of the modern day newspaper. Never have I had to literally cut and paste my text and apply it to a page with gobs of wax for print. Others here have. I haven’t. But I can see the nicks scratches and slices left in the table’s surface — every one assumably left in the course of a piece of local news headed for print.
And as much as I wanted to take out the copious number of nails in seemingly every surface, it was impossible with the tabletop. The once sleek surface had been glued to the plywood after it was nailed to the frame, and hammering out the nails would have destroyed it — defeating the entire purpose of my efforts. Believe it or not, the path of least resistance was to straighten the nails and slip them back into their holes. It was the most sincere retracing of my predecessors handiwork.
Like I said, this table will never bear the weight of my clippings with a deadline on my heels. But, it will bear the marks of a number of tools plied by my hand. And, at this point, I think it will have to bear a quick explanation of how the thing got into the room.
After all, they won’t be able to get it out without taking it apart again.