Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Chalk dust

In our house, no matter how often I vacuum or dust, there is a fine layer of dust covering everything. The wood stove and the cats are responsible for some of it, but we have a climbing wall in our family room and the climbers use chalk and chalk is, well, dust.

Yesterday in the beautiful, old, barely-used courthouse in Rumford, which is engulfed in renovations, I noticed that the counsel table was covered with the same fine layer of dust that is on all of my furniture. My initial reaction, was to look up and around to see if anyone had put climbing holds on the beams. Then I heard the jackhammer and the shouts of workmen and wondered instead if it was asbestos.

I believe that the renovations are mostly to the building, but I am fearful that they will intrude into the courtroom itself. The courtroom is a reminder of what Rumford once was when the mill, dependent on the mighty Androscoggin, was at its peak. The courtroom has 20 foot high ceilings (which would actually be good for climbing), a jury box and an imposing bench. Behind the judge's bench there is a beautiful mural of Moses receiving the Ten Commandments. It is a magnificent piece of art that reminds us of the gravity of what we are doing in that courtroom.

These days, there is only a judge there a day or two a week and only for misdemeanors and civil matters. Jury trials for the county were moved to South Paris some 30 years ago, but back in the day this frontier court must have been something. One older lawyer yesterday was reminiscing about the last murder trial that he had in that courtroom. He told of being on the 2nd day of cross-examination of the pathologist when the defendant stood up and declared "Oh, let's just stop this, I did it."


Texican said...

What a nice Mom. If the courtroom does become available, it might be financially rewarding to open a climbers training facility there.

Beth said...

Don't think that hasn't crossed my mind!