25 June 2012

Vasistas



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.

6 comments:

Sarah said...

Hmm. The title -- before I read the post -- already had me thinking 'Was ist das.'

Marinka said...

I love this. I assume you weren't expected to be reminded of me at that moment because I'm always on your mind, right?

But it's interesting-- the world of newspaper clippings is now practically over.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

Every time I see this headline in my reader I think it's saying "What is this?" in German! The spelling is different but that's how I'd say it: vas is das

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

Oh, I just read Sarah's comment. And here I thought I was a unique butterfly : )

MDTaz said...

This must be just one of many treasures you have found, or have yet to find, in the process of sifting through the past: your past and your mother's past. I hope for you that this process will be bittersweetly satisfying, and ultimately, any ache about her that lingers turns into strong memories that make you smile and tether you further to the woman you have become, and are in the process of becoming. Keep digging. It's worth it.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

That reminds me of the old joke about how Datsuns got the name: the Japanese engineers asked a German engineer what to call their new car and as it sped away, the German said,
"dot soon."