(Marge Ely)

David S. Kessler

59, Silver Spring, small-mammal biologist

I saw it first in my father’s cramped open office space in Jersey City in the late 1950s. A plastic turntable called a Rototray, it held pencils, pens and the mysterious tools of an air conditioning salesman/engineer: compasses, slide rules, binder clips, odd and wondrous devices that he allowed me to inspect. Yet what I loved most was spinning the turntable, attempting to follow one object as it rotated round and round.

The turntable migrated to West Caldwell in the mid-’60s, where my father’s large office removed him from the hurly-burly of daily sales and calculations. Yet the turntable stayed. Functional? Maybe. A reminder? Surely.

It resided in the basement after a too-early retirement. But he rediscovered it in his 70s when a previously unknown artistic talent emerged as he became a ceramist and jewelry designer. The turntable brimmed with silver and gold wires, files, brushes and more wondrous devices that were still mysteries to me.

When he died a year ago May, I asked my mother if I could have the turntable. It squats on my desk, empty, ready to be filled with whatever the tools of my inspiration may be.

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