Sunday, June 13, 2010


If fire doesn't turn it to ashes, or a tornado change it to splinters, or termites pulverize the cellulose, then this table should fulfill its purpose from now to more than one hundred years.

The planks in this table came from a walnut tree that grew on a farm in Mocksville, North Carolina. Over thirty years ago Henry Abraham Whitman harvested the tree and milled its trunk into lumber. Shortly thereafter, "Abe", as he was called, lost his life on October 12, 1978 at age 49 in a tragic car wreck. A young person drove through a highway intersection without stopping and crashed into a jeep in which Abe was a passenger. Mr. Whitman was a husband, father and a respected building contractor.

At the time of his death Whitman had two daughters, Debbie age 23 and Robin age 19. Among the keepsakes, the daughters saved their daddy's walnut lumber. The siblings moved the boards from place to place after they married and relocated their homes. Both women have had several pieces of fine solid walnut furniture built from the lumber. As the inventory dwindled, Robin envisioned yet another dream for the leftover boards.

She commissioned Herschel Lamb, my friend and creative woodworker, to build the table shown in these pictures. Robin gave Herschel approximate dimensions and a picture to be used as a model. She offered a drawer-pull as a pattern to match other furniture made from the same tree.

Look at the details in these pictures (click on them to enlarge):
Solid walnut, wooden drawer slides, mortise & tenon joinery, dovetails, tapered legs, and square pegs in round holes. This signature table is marked with Mr. Lamb's turtle logo and a 2010-penny inlaid to denote the year the table was made.

Herschel engaged Harold Jones to turn the drawer pulls. Mr. Jones made his career as a patternmaker in the foundry industry and is an expert in turning wood on a lathe.

Robin and Herschel became aware of one's need and the other's skill through Linda at the Cricket's Nest, a craft shop in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

The table was delivered to Robin's home a week plus a few days before Father's Day 2010 and positioned along a north wall in front of a window in a special room. It will be used to support a computer and store desk related items. It is most fitting that the wood prepared by Henry Abraham Whitman long ago has been turned into an object of beauty and purpose by a daughter who had a vision and who holds continuous love and admiration for her father.

The spirit of a good father can occupy a mind and cause goodness to be lived forward even after his flesh has been returned to the soil.

Have a good week!


At 6/14/2010 12:16 AM, Blogger Debbie Herman said...

Dear Mr. Mabe,

Thank you for your story - "Father" depicting Henry Abraham Whitman - my dear Daddy. He was indeed a special father, who loved his family dearly and praised God daily for the many blessings in his life. Although he had polio as a young man, resulting in some disability, he never complained nor considered himself disabled - living life to the fullest by pursuing his entrepreneurial dreams, deer hunting, fishing, frog gigging, cutting lumber, building houses,mentoring young people,joking around,supporting his church,and anything that sparked his interest.

His short life was an inspiration with a lifetime of special memories. My Daddy's love, generosity, and happy-go-lucky spirit live on in my heart. Despite his heavenly departure 32 years ago, I miss him tremendously, especially on Father's Day.

Someday, there will be a family reunion at the pearly gates. Until that day, I will strive to live my life in the same joyous loving spirit as the example set many years ago by my Daddy.

Thank you for honoring my father,

Debbie Whitman Herman


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