The (childhood) home office that has been everything else, too

Maybe only a fellow writer can totally get it.

For the living room where you took your first steps (later to become the family dining room) to wind up being your home office 40-plus years later, well, it’s just a great story.

front door

And it’s my story. And my incredible home office. This shot is the same room today, looking right toward what was the front door where I was standing.

Long shot

Where to begin in ticking off the assets of my awesome office?

“The Window on the World,” as I joke, a takeoff from Today’s “Plaza.” I can sit at my desk and see everything that’s going on in the neighborhood (one friend said to me the other day, ‘This neighborhood is like its own little village within the city of Rock Island’)

It’s true. It’s very, very true.

And for all those years when company would come to visit, the dining room as well as the living room were gathering spots. This always has been an active room, the center of the house.

Dining Room

Read more: Check out this piece about my neighborhood I penned for the Quad-City Times way back in 2004

You can bet I sit here, pounding out stories about the opioid crisis, all the while watching fire engines roll past the Window on the World at least every other day, so it seems. Of course, I always wonder if someone overdosed, because many people have in this neighborhood.

Whenever you have 100 houses in a subdivision, there is going to be the potential for fire engines, ambulances, cop cars, etc. At least that’s what I tell myself these days.

Read more: Please join me in celebrating the renovation of my childhood home

It’s still a great neighborhood. It is. Best in Rock Island. I totally believe that.

Redoing this room cost almost nothing

I spent almost no money at all turning this room into my office. I had the old carpet pulled up when new carpet was installed in the front room. They did not charge me extra for that.

Other than that, I repainted the room, and that’s it.

Read more: How a two-car garage became a beautiful family room

The focal point of the room is, no doubt, the retro desk. In fact, many people say it is the coolest thing in my house.


It is cool, and it’s cool for many reasons. For starters, my family ate on a table exactly like this one in the 1970s, back when we ate in the kitchen and this room was the living room.

When mom and dad got divorced, the old 1970s table was long gone. But, dad found this one at a yard sale two Augustana girls were having in 1986 and bought it.

Dad and I did eat together at this table for a year, in this room. Well, until he started demanding I serve his meals to him in the living room on a silver platter he purchased at Goodwill.

No, I’m not kidding.

Finally, suitable frames and a suitable space for career collectibles

For many years, I’ve collected all sort of cool things that were suitable for framing. I just never got around to it.

I’m glad I got to Mimzi before they closed. My framed CNN 20th anniversary T-shirt, signed by Wolf Blitzer and the staff at “The World Today,” is pretty darned cool.


Special thanks to the man who gave it to me, colleague and mentor John Futch.

I also think the “thank-you” fax from Gene Shalit is pretty cool. This also was framed by Mimzi. Both this and the CNN frame together cost a fortune. I’m embarrassed to even say. But they did a great job.

She explained to me that the reason their prices are so high is because the equipment is so exacting. Oh well, they’re out of business now anyway!


And never in my life would I ever have thought I would receive a two-year AA chip and this very nice certificate signed by the Milan Camden Serenity group.

Camden AA

My AA experience, overall, was not good. However, the Camden Serenity group in Milan never did anything to violate my trust, and they even took me in and gave me my two-year chip knowing I’m not a fan of AA.

Sober is sober, they said.

And that’s just very cool, and very decent, so props to Camden Serenity. Very good people.

From writing about dinosaurs to opioids

When my parents built the room addition onto the front of the house, my office became the dining room.

One of the pieces original to this room at the time it was made into a dining room is the signed Costello print seen here. That went to my brother (as did the entire contents of the home) when my mom died, and he in turn gave it back to dad several years ago.

I’m glad it’s mine now. It’s where it should be.


Do I get inspiration working in this comfortable office? Why, yes, I do. Even the office chair is meaningful. It’s in excellent shape and I got it at a yard sale that two Augustana College professors (husband and wife) were having down the street.

There’s that Augustana yard sale connection again.

Everything in my life has come full circle.

I cannot be sure, but I suspect my first newspaper assignment – a story about dinosaurs for the Eugene Field Elementary School Eagles Editorial – probably was written right in this room.

Or, my old bedroom, which will be the topic of the next blog post I write about redoing my childhood home.

Until next time.

Read more: Why I love my metal roof

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