A son finds memories and solace in his late father's Mobile, Ala., law office.
By Roy Hoffman | From Preservation | March/April 2007
Sitting at my Dad's old walnut desk, my elbows on the leather desk pad cracked dry with time, I gaze out his 24th-floor law office window. Past his now-silent Dictaphone, over the two dozen black bindings of the Code of Alabama lined up on his windowsill, over the snapshots of my mom, who passed away three years ago, I see the view that, like the possessions in this office, will forever belong to him.
There's the red terra-cotta dome of the Gulf Mobile & Ohio railroad station, now restored for offices and a bus terminal, where he took the train to Atlanta during the late 1920s to go to Emory Law School; the grain elevator and loading berths of the Alabama State Docks, which he represented as legal counsel for four years after World War II; the port of Mobile with its lazy brown river opening out to Mobile Bay, and all the sites where we launched a boat to go fishing when I was a boy.
For 40 years he looked out this window, having moved into this building once it opened in the mid-1960s, a 34-floor, white, cast-concrete structure—until this year the tallest, by far, in town—across the street from the 19th-century iron fountain and ancient oaks of Bienville Square, the historic heart of town. The office, with its sheetrock walls, is three rooms and a connecting hallway: the entrance area, with its secretary's desk and a typewriter giving way over the years to a computer; a small library with 1930s oak and glass-paneled bookcases; and the spacious room near the windows with his desk.
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