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The Magic Drawer

Rick Ryckeley's picture

Everyone has one. From the very young to the very old, whether you’re male or female, single or married, it’s universal. It follows you throughout your entire life and will still be around long after you’re gone. It’s known by many names, but around our house, The Wife and me, we just call it the Magic Drawer.

Growing up at 110 Flamingo Street, the drawer was located right next to the avocado refrigerator that grew freezer ice on its inside walls. Although the location and name of the drawer has changed over the years, its functionality has stayed the same. Anything of importance or tools used often end up in the drawer.
My first encounter with the drawer was pictures. Our parents took lots of them on vacations when we were young. After being developed, my mom took one look and decided she didn’t like any of the ones of her. Those were tossed into the drawer and soon forgotten.

Years later, somehow some of the pictures in the drawer had magically changed. Us kids all looked the same, but I heard Mom tell Dad she wished she’d looked that good again. She then added them to her scrapbooks and loved showing them off every year at family reunions.
Whenever any of us kids needed pencils, rubber bands, or paper clips for schoolwork, they could always be found in the Magic Drawer, along with a healthy supply of old Life Savers, Cracker Jack toys, and random keys.

Most keys went to cars we didn’t own any longer and padlocks Dad had collected over the years. Didn’t matter that he’d lost most of the locks — at least he still had the keys if they were ever found.
Even though Mom cleaned out the Magic Drawer at least twice a year, it was a losing battle. The junk always found its way back in.
On report card day, Old Mrs. Crabtree, my third-grade teacher at Mt. Olive Elementary School, handed me mine and smiled. She told us to go home and put them somewhere safe.
I personally put my report card in the safest place I knew — way in the back of the magic drawer, securely wedged in by a screwdriver. Somehow, by morning, it had made its way to the kitchen table and in front of Dad. My report card, not the screwdriver; it remain wedged inside the drawer.

Assorted tools also occupied space in the magical drawer. Unfortunately, even though we all knew tools were in there, no one could actually get to them. I tried to pry pliers out one time to help pull Twin Brother Mark’s tooth but couldn’t.
The pliers were stuck way in the back, hidden under the operating manuals for the television and the washing machine and a huge assortment of nuts, screws and washers. Or at least that’s where I thought they were. A screwdriver kept the drawer jammed so it would open only halfway. I think that screwdriver is still jammed in that drawer today.
Last weekend, my complaints to The Wife about our Magic Drawer fell on deaf ears. It had gotten too junkie even for me to stand. Owners’ manuals, pencils, and yes, old padlock keys were all crammed inside, but still I couldn’t find what I was looking for.

The cause could’ve been the one random screwdriver jamming the drawer allowing it to only open halfway. After an hour of watching my big hand try without success to unstick the screwdriver, The Wife finally said, “Know what you need? A smaller hand or less stuff in that drawer.”
“Nope,” I replied removing my hand, “Just need a second drawer.”

[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, served as a firefighter for more than two decades and has been a weekly columnist since 2001. His email is His books are available at]

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