Billy Builds His Own Oval Office

Just like the Presidents.
The day after school got out for the summer, mom and dad had a word with Billy at the supper table.

"Son, what are you going to do with yourself this summer."

Billy stared at his plate, pushing food hither and yon.

"Well, have you thought about keeping yourself busy? Maybe a job?"

Billy leached forward.

"I've got plans."

"Plans for what?"

"The Oval Office."

Mom and dad looked at each other.

"So... you are going to Washington to visit the White House?"

Billy started eating. "No, I am going to build my own oval office, just like the President has."

Dad started to clear the dinner table.

Mom: "And... just where... and how are you going to build your own oval office?"

Billy stood up, soldier like, erect, and pointed out the back door. "There."

Mom looked out the back door. "You mean in the pole barn?"

Dad entered. "Billy, we've got all the farm equipment in there."

With a defeated glint in his eye, Billy got up and left the dinner table, going into the living room to watch TV.

"Just how big is the Oval Office," mom asked dad.

He pushed his cap back on his head. "That's a good question."

"You could move some of the equipment outside for the summer."

"I could."

"Then let's throw it in Billy's lap," mom said.

"Billy, how big is the Oval Office?"

"It's 39 feet, 10 inches long, 29 feet wide."

Dad looked at Billy.

"How'd you know that?"

"Teacher took us on a virtual tour of the White House, then I looked it up."

Billy stood, facing mom and dad.

"I want to build my own oval office. Maybe someday I'll be the President."

With that he went up to his bedroom.

Mom: "I need to sit for a minute. Where did that come from?"

Dad: "It caught me off guard. I gotta think about it."

The next day the chores on the farm occupied Billy, and he kept busy till late afternoon, when he noticed dad pulling some of the equipment out of the pole barn. Dad pulled out a tape measure and was walking off a large area.

Billy stood in the doorway.

"I've got 40 plus feet for you here, right along this wall, and 29 feet this way, right against the combine.: He closed the tape measure. "Think that'll work?"

Billy stood, the family dog rubbing against his legs. "Thanks, dad."

While dad and mom ran the farm, Billy went to work. First, he visited the White House website for the dimensions and the history, then searched for photos of the office under different presidents. The Oval Office changed in size and location over the years, and presidents decorated it with their own busts, photos, paintings, and so forth. Billy quickly realized he couldn't duplicate the fancy Oval Office in the White House, but he could make one that suited him.

He started with yellow chalk, used by carpenters, and carefully drew a rectangle 39 feet 10 inches in one direction, and 29 feet in the other. A chalk line helped him draw it straight. Then he carefully drew the curves that created the oval shape.

Dad appeared. "Billy, that curve on the left is off, wash that chalk off and see if you can match the one just like it on the other side."

Later mom appeared. "Well, it certainly is oval. Now what?"

In the photographs of the Oval Office Billy noted there are three windows behind the President's desk. What on the farm could he use for windows? He went out to the scrap heap behind the pole barn. No windows, but some plywood. He brought the plywood into the workshop.

"Billy," dad warned, "don't start up a power saw unless I am standing here."

Billy drew lines down the plywood to make it into three pieces. Dad cut along the lines, put the power saw away, and Billy went to work sanding the rough edges.

There was still a landline telephone on the wall in the workshop, so Billy called a neighbor friend. She came hustling down to see what Billy was up to.

"You like to draw," he said to her. "Draw me three windows, with trees and clouds and blue sky."

His friend ran home to get her art supplies, came back, and went about drawing windows on the plywood.

Billy thought: I need a desk, a President's desk. He went back to the computer and looked at the various desks presidents used. They were all handsome, crafted carefully from wood, some with a hidden compartment in the middle, another oval in shape itself. Billy went back to the scrap heap. Two old barn doors, small, six feet in length, no handles, no hinges, no glass. He brought them into the workshop and started hammering long nails. He hammered in a couple of two-by-fours for legs, then hauled the creation into place at one end of the oval.

A chair. He needed a chair. Back to the scrap heap, but this time nothing there. He looked around the outside the pole barn, went to the shed, then grabbed an old apple crate and put it in place behind the president's desk.

A couple of days later his friend had windows drawn on the plywood pieces, pretty nice windows, with even a small bird on a branch. Billy and his friend placed them behind the desk and propped them up.

His friend said, "That's the president's desk? Two old barn doors?"

Billy just smiled.

Then he went back to the internet to look at more picture of the real Oval Office. There, in front of the desk in the middle of the room, is a meeting area, two couches facing each other, a table between them, and a globe of the earth.

Mom stopped in. "Okay, now I see what you're doing. Okay. Got it."

Billy found a plank of wood about three feet across and six feet long and hauled it into the oval office. He brought in cinder blocks for feet and placed the plank on top. When people come to visit me in my oval office they'll have to sit on bales of straw, he thought, then brought in six bales and put three on each side of the plank.

"What'd you need, kid?" dad said, passing through.

"A big globe like the president uses to see the countries on the map."

Dad looked around the pole barn. He got the hand cart and brought a big cast iron drain pipe over and placed it at the end of the plank, upright.. Billy was pleased.

"Now find a basketball or something to put on it for the globe," dad said.

Billy located a beat up basketball and set it on top of the open end of the drain pipe. You just have to use your imagination.

Back to photos of the real Oval Office. There, on the right side, is a tall grandfather clock. At the end, opposite the president's desk is a fireplace and a picture hanging above it.

Billy was having trouble sleeping now. His mind buzzed with questions and excitement. Dinner was a brief affair as he gobbled down his food and ran back to the pole barn.

A fireplace. Billy was totally puzzled. Then he saw the small grain bin, empty, open at the top. He dragged it in and turned it so the opening was facing the desk at the other end of the oval office, just as the opening of the real fireplace faces the real desk in the real Oval Office.

June turned to July which turned to August, and school was about to start up. Billy solved the grandfather clock problem with two bales of straw standing vertical and the wall clock from the workshop hanging on the top.

The real president's desk always has photos or picture on it that are dear to that particular president, Billy found with further review. So he printed off pictures of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, tacked them to a couple pieces of scrap wood, and propped them on the desk top.

School started in ten days, and Billy was feeling the pressure to finish his oval office. Neighbors were starting to talk about the feat, and stopped in to see it. Even the local sheriff came by.

"I hear you've go the next President of the United States right here in your barn," he said, walking into the pole barn. Dad was proud to show him Billy's oval office.

Since people were excited to see it, Billy went a step further and had his art student friend bring her cell phone down to run off a short video.

Billy dressed for the part, in a shirt and tie, and sat behind the desk practicing, "My fellow Americans."

The video went viral and mom answered the phone one afternoon to hear a woman on the other side say, "Please hold for the President."

"We're mighty proud hear at the White House to see a budding youngster go to the trouble to duplicate the nation's Oval Office. Mighty proud. Please put Billy on the phone so I can congratulate him."

Word went around school quickly, and the principal announced Billy's talk with the President over the PA. More neighbors than ever stopped in to see Billy's oval office. The kids from school came by. The local newspaper, the radio station, the pastor at church, all wanted to be in on it.

Everyday when Billy got home from school, he ran to the pole barn to check on his oval office, sit at the desk and practice, "My fellow Americans."

Billy was practicing, you see... for his future.
Published: 10/24/2017
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