I know. Aimless archaeology. I discovered this scrap of paper when I was emptying out my mother's desk, in preparation for its removal to my house.
Before last month, I'd never heard of a transom being called anything but a transom, but Marinka's husband claimed that it was called a "vasistas" in French. And not that I'm trying to side with Marinka's husband or anything, but apparently one Neal Hitzig had heard this too and wrote to the New York Times about it ... eighteen years ago. Neal does call it "apocryphal" (and Neal's letter is footnote #5 in the wikipedia article which one of Marinka's commenters cited). Anyway, my mother saw fit to rip it out of the paper. She liked words. She also liked ripping things out of the newspaper. She kept everything. I just didn't expect to be reminded of Marinka while I was cleaning out my mother's desk. Go figure.
The desk, a beautiful Eastlake rolltop desk, with burled insets, and a glass-fronted bookcase on top, had been in my father's family. Family lore, if my memory serves, had it stored in the attic of my grandparent's garage/barn, from where it had to be lowered by block and tackle. Tucked in one of its little drawers is a scrap of paper ripped out of some magazine, lord knows when, with a picture of the desk's twin and notes as to its provenance. I'm looking forward to the its appearance in my living room. The desk, that is. The scraps of paper...? Big sigh. I think the rest of my summer is going to be an immersion in aimless archaeology. And shredding.