Owen's Desk
Which Might Have Been Spruance or Letterman's

It was finally time for Owen to get his own desk. I have searched for his for months but to no avail. I tried everyplace to find one. That had been my problem with Jack's desk a couple years ago. Then I called the school district in Dixon, IL where I had lived and served on the local school board. Lo and behold, I found one, which happened to be the last one in the entire district. While I had not lived in Dixon for decades, it seems that as a former school member I still had some clout remaining.

When getting the desk at district's storage building, two employees mentioned some rumors about the desk. At the time, I was excited far more about finding the desk and wrote off the mention of the rumors. Then when I started driving out of town, the rumor comment resurfaced. Therefore, before leaving Dixon, I went to an old friend of mine, Bill Shaw. I told Bill about an uneasy feeling that I had about the desk, because of what I had heard in passing while putting the desk into my car. He said that there were rumors that Ronald Reagan had used the desk when he lived in Dixon prior to going to Hollywood and later Washington.

Having voted for Barack Obama twice, perhaps that is why I felt uneasy about the desk. However, Bill mentioned another rumor that it had been Stan Weber's desk. Stan was the superintendent of the school district and my boss while I was on the school board several decades ago. That rumor allayed my concerns about the desk being used by Reagan. Therefore, I put the desk into my car and returned home happy to fix up this Dixon desk for Jack.

This is Jack putting the final touches on his new desk.

After all the time spent acquiring Jack's desk, I was reluctant to start looking for Owen's desk knowing that finding one was going to be difficult. However, I tried and tried. One day after babysitting for the boys, I stopped at an antique store just outside Indianapolis. I asked the owner about a desk. He said that he did not have one for years but called a friend who he thought might have one. The woman did have a desk and that I could drive over and look at it.

The desk was exactly what I wanted and gladly paid for it. As I was putting the desk in my car, I just happened to ask about whether she knew any stories about who might have used this desk over the years. She said that she had heard two different stories about who might have sat in this desk at one time while going to school in Indianapolis.

The first story was that Admiral Raymond Spruance who was one of the great commanders during WWII in the Pacific. Since I have taught US history for years, when I heard Spruance's name mentioned, I was delighted.

 Admiral Raymond Spruance

Admiral Raymond Spruance

Actually, I was both excited and fascinated. Imagine Owen sitting at a desk once used by Spruance. I could bore Owen who is two years old about Spruance his commanding the Battle of Midway just several months after Pearl Harbor, the Battle of the Philippine Sea in 1944, and the Battle of Iwo Jima and Okinawa in 1945. Spruance has been considered the greatest admiral that America ever had. His officers nicknamed him electric brain. Prior to the WWII, he went Shortridge High School in Indianapolis.

An interesting aside to Spruance is that the Japanese Commander in Chief was Admiral Yamamoto who planned both Pearl Harbor and the Battle of Midway. While Spruance defeated him in 1942 at Midway, American decoders found out that Yamamoto was going to fly to Bougainville for an inspection. The decoders knew exactly when Yamamoto's plane would reach the airfield at Bougainville. What the Japanese did not know was that sixteen American P-38 Lightnings were there also. Yamamoto plane was shot down and crashed killing him. It had been less than a year and a half after Pearl Harbor and less than a year since Spruance defeated him at Midway. The following is a video of both an American and Japanese account of the P-38s downing Yamamoto.

The seller of the desk said that other person who might have used the desk was David Letterman who went to school at Broad Ripple High School, which is in walking distance of Owen and his family's home. While Letterman was not officially in the military, there have been alleged death threats against him. Letterman then added, "State Department authorities are looking into this. They're not taking this lightly. They're looking into it. They're questioning, they're interrogating, there's an electronic trail-but everybody knows it's Leno."

David Letterman

David Letterman

Owen, like Letterman, is the family's comedian. Maybe this desk is Letterman's.

Therefore, after returning home, I began the project of restoring either Spruance or Letterman's possible desk to a level beyond what either of them would have recognized. It took sometime.... This was part of the final stage of restoration.

Finally, it was finished.

The next step was presenting it to Owen for his final touch replicating what his brother did a couple of years ago.

Owen seems delighted.

Then Owen's desk was brought inside his house.

After a couple of hours of teaching Owen about the possible origins of his desk, he asked, "And who precisely was Admiral Spruance?"

Then, after I repeated the list of battles Spruance commanded from Midway, the Battle of the Philippine Sea, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa, Owen got an idea. He said, "I wondered whether Spruance left any of his battle plans inside my desk?"