I Wuz Just Thinking: Strumming a Memory


You can still see reminders of the charred desk in the guitar my husband made.

My husband who saved an old charred desk, burned when my childhood home caught fire and turned it into a cherished memory.

About 1937 or so, my great aunt, Miss Gillie Patterson, built the Patterson Memorial hospital in the little East Texas town of Troup, Smith County, Texas, in memory of her parents.

After some years, the hospital closed.  After Aunt Gillie’s death, it was Willed to the Boy Scouts of America and was sold.  The building is presently the Cottle Funeral Home in Troup.

When the hospital closed, my mother was given the desk that had been located in the nurse’s station.  We used it in our bedroom to do our homework.

Betty Mahurin Baker

A fire triggered by electrical wiring to the refrigerator, during 1949, caused interior damages to our home and the desk caught fire and was charred.

Daddy took dark paint and painted over all the furniture and this desk.

Many years of homework happened on this desk in the girls’ bedroom. There were three of us.

By the time my parents died in 1980, the old desk was rickety and came to my home. Soon it was moved into the storage room where it sat for years, neglected and dusty.

Our son, Jeff, finished his tour of duty with the military and moved to Phoenix to attend school and become a luthier and build guitars. He was hired immediately by Taylor Guitar in California where he moved. His work was his love.

Jimmy and I visited and toured the Taylor Guitar company.  In the lobby area was a guitar made from a crate or a barrel, and I suddenly realized that guitars could be made from a variety of woods.

My husband Jimmy is, at times, in a competition with his sons.  Jimmy, being a carpenter most of his life, joked around and told Jeff that one didn’t have to go to school to build a guitar.

One day while cleaning out the storage room, I told Jimmy to just throw away the old desk as he was taking a load to the city dump.

Without my knowledge, he did not take the desk to the dump.  Instead, he sanded down the wood to where the burned marks still showed.  He took this charred wood, worked with it, shaped it, glued it, and varnished it.  He added strings and the other components to create a beautiful “memory” guitar to surprise me.

When Jeff came to town, he took the guitar from where I had it hanging place on the wall and played some songs he had written. Sweet music came forth.  We are all so very proud of this guitar – my memory of the hospital, my childhood home that burned, and the love of my husband who saved an old charred desk and turned it into a cherished memory, as I wuz just thinking.

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