Su Lum: Slumming |

Su Lum: Slumming

Su Lum
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

Bil Dunaway found my antique oak roll-top desk in a barn in Carbondale, bought it for $40 and hauled it into The Aspen Times. It must have been in the early ’70s, when the ad office moved from the back of the building into the front, where his KSNO radio station used to be.

“You’ll have to clean it up a little bit,” Bil understated. I spent a day attacking the petrified chicken poop and ossified dust with a wire brush and left it at that for the next 40-something years.

My co-worker David Laughren says that the desk should be encased in a plastic product, contents and all, for historic preservation. I could go along with that because it would mean I wouldn’t have to clean out the big drawers, little drawers, cubbyholes and slots that hold my collection of “things too choice to throw out,” but the reality is that I have to empty the desk.

I’m taking it one small step at a time. I stop by the office, my dachshunds charging to their bed under the desk, not really knowing what is ahead but gradually adjusting as I am. I throw armloads of old and irrelevant advertising papers into the recycle bin, then gather a pile of I don’t know what from one of the drawers and carry it home to sort into “Toss” and “Keep.”

In my first foray, I found a three-page, single-spaced explanation and defense of what happened (a disaster) to a Carol Ann Jacobsen ad in the mid-80s – what I’d call a classic piece of memorabilia (into the “Keep” notebook) and two recorded 1969 dialogues with my daughter Hillery, then 4.

Bedtime Conversations with Hillery

H: What do the seeds look like?

S: What seeds?

H: The seeds to make babies.

S: Oh, they’re very small – you can’t even see them.

H: Well, where do the seeds go inside?

S: They go in your vagina. (This was not our first conversation on the topic and “a special place” had already been rejected.)

H: And they’re not very big?

S: No, they are tiny.

H: I might have twins if I get two seeds. (pause) When you go to the basket store (i.e., the store with grocery carts), buy me some boy seeds and some girl seeds and then I’ll pull my babies on a sled.

S: Well, you have to be older to have babies.

H: How old do you have to be?

S: Oh, about 17.

H: OK, when I’m 17 you buy some boy seeds and some girl seeds from the store.

S: But you can’t buy those seeds in the store. A daddy gives them to you.

H: Then I’ll ask him to get some boy seeds and some girl seeds from the store.

April Fools’ Day. Hillery practiced all morning to fool Dunaway.

S: I’ll pretend I’m Dunaway. (Gruff voice) Hello there, Hillery.

H: April Fool, there’s a bug on your back.

S: No, first say “there’s a bug on your back” and then say “April Fool.” Try it again, Hello there, Hillery.

H: There’s a bug on your back, April Fool.

S: That’s good, but you said April Fool too fast. Wait until he starts looking for the bug. Try it again. Hello there, Hillery.

H: There’s a bug on your back.

S: OH! Where? (slapping at back)

H: It’s right there!

S: Now you’re supposed to say “April Fool.”

H: The bug’s right there on your back!

S: Say “April Fool” now.

H: It’s crawling up your back.

S: Say “April Fool!”

H: April Fool, there’s a bug on your back.