Carl's Room
Carl's Room

As I reach the top of the stairs, I can see into the room. The bed is unmade. A multi-colored quilt with shades of green dominating the design is crumpled at the foot of the bed. A wrinkled top sheet hangs lifelessly over the side of the bed partially covering a worn leather moccasin lying on the gray carpet. A piece of chewing gum is stuck on one of the maple-finished bed posts. Tacked on the sloping wall and extending the entire length of the wall are pennants representing each university in the Big Ten.

At the foot of the bed is a brown box-like radio for receiving short wave, calling overseas ships and conversing with the police. But the radio serves only as an amplifier for a 33 1/3 rpm record player on the floor to the left of the radio. “Bird Dog” is on the turntable. A pile of records is stacked against the wall, and four records are scattered between the radio and the record player. The cords of the radio and record player run under the bed to a double socket.

I step over the records and enter the room. It had once been an attic. The outline of the sloping pine-paneled walls and the tiny white-painted ceiling resemble the outline of an irregular trapezoid. The height from the carpet to the ceiling is not more than six feet. The only window in the room is a French window divided into fourths by two thin wrought-iron strips.

On each side of the window are two large built-in bookcases. Each case has three deep, sparsely-filled shelves. On the top shelf of the bookcase on the right are three oversized books—The Greatest Athletes, 100 Historical Events, and Rand McNally’s World Atlas. On the middle shelf is a plastic jar about the size of a sugar canister. It is filled with pennies, foreign coins, two pocket knives, an old cigarette lighter and two broken watches. On the bottom shelf is a set of fifteen Landmark Books ordered from the Book-of-the-Month Club. The books, Valley Forge, John Paul Jones, FBI, and others, have scarcely been touched.

On the bottom shelf to the left is a huge scroll of maps. On the middle shelf is a dark blue-covered stamp book of the United States, a stamp lift, a stamp press, a stamp hinge holder, tweezers, and a smaller stamp book of the British Coronation. Loose stamps are scattered all over the shelf. On the top shelf are small circular weights used for the scale that stands a foot from the bookcase. The old cream-colored scale is similar to a scale found in a doctor’s office. Behind the scale in the middle of the room lies a dumbbell. The dumbbell is three feet long and has eighty pounds on each end.

On the wall adjacent to the bookcase are a huge lounge chair, an air-conditioning vent, and a brown chest-of-drawers. The chest has four drawers. The top drawer is partially opened, and an undershirt is drooping over the side. On the top of the dresser is a jewelry case. Inside are scattered cuff links, a silver dollar, a bent class ring, and a broken stop watch with a shoe string tied through the loop at the top. The closet door near the dresser is ajar. A hat rack takes up most of the room in the closet. On two of the prongs twist multicolored families of ties. And on another prong hangs a red-checkered shirt. The floor of the closet is jumbled with shoes.

Above the desk near the closet is a chart entitled “How to Build a Better Body,” showing various exercise positions and explaining the techniques used. The desk is blond and modern and has slender black iron legs. Inside the top drawer are a two-inch stack of white paper, ten pencils, a cracked ruler, a bottle of washable blue ‘Scripto’ ink, a green rubber eraser with pencil holes bored in it, a compass stuck into the end of the eraser and a bent protractor.

On top of the desk is a clipping and photo from the sports page of the Daily Courier, a chemistry book, an advanced algebra book, and an English literature book, all stacked on a ripped brown leather notebook. Beside the books is an empty carton of strawberry ice cream. One fly is sitting on the carton and two others are buzzing around. I pick up the carton and leave the room, closing the door behind me.

Carl Alexander Hovde
(1942 - 1987)
Izumi Cecelia Hovde
(1975 - 1997)

©2005 Laurel Hovde