Michael White was looking to get rid of an old walnut desk set he had in his garage.
The retired pastor ended up trading it for hamburgers.
And that story is only a small part of the journey of this desk.
You see, this particular 80-year-old desk was originally in the chambers of Judge Robert L. Harris at the Clark County Courthouse. And its new owner is someone who once stood before the judge as an 18-year-old to be sentenced for crimes he committed. And the place where the judge’s desk will now reside is where this new owner — James Kasper — took his last drink.
“It’s a great story of God’s redeeming grace,” said White, a longtime Vancouver resident who was pastor at Hockinson Community Church until he retired in 2016. “The desk is a symbol of hope and help.”
To back up a bit, White purchased the desk (which included the desk’s chair, wooden wastebasket and a library table) at an auction put on by the courthouse some 30 years ago, all for $150.
The desk was new to the courthouse when the building opened in 1941. It was used by the late Judge Harris during his 30-year career at the courthouse and eventually found its way into storage, and then at auction as surplus.
Fast forward to present day. The need for the pastor to clean out his garage outweighed the need to keep the desk. But he didn’t want it going just anywhere.
“I wanted it to go to someone where it would be valued and have meaning,” he said. “I didn’t want it just stuffed away.”
White said his daughter Vicki got the ball rolling by asking an attorney friend to ask around to see if anyone was interested in the desk.
On Jan. 5, Judge Darvin Zimmerman contacted White and suggested the desk could go into the Robert L. Harris Juvenile Justice Center.
There was also another suggestion Zimmerman made. He suggested Kasper, now 52, because he knew how Kasper had turned his life around and is involved in a recovery ministry, among other projects.
“He told me about James, and I went ‘wow,’ ” said White, who then went to meet Kasper.
After talking with Kasper and hearing about the recovery ministry and how Kasper purchased the former Ice House Bar & Grill at 7804 N.E. Highway 99 in Hazel Dell to turn it into a recovery cafe, White said he knew exactly who to give the desk to.
“I wasn’t concerned about getting money for it,” White said. “So I said, ‘I’ll trade you for hamburgers.’ Real simple, not complicated.”
The desk will be the centerpiece for recovery meetings at the soon-to-be Ironhorse Recovery Cafe — the same building where James said he took his last drink.
“I feel honored I can do this small part and donate this to him,” White said. “I’m grateful it’s going to keep telling a story and be the centerpiece of recovery meetings.”
All for hamburgers.
“I’m looking forward to sitting down there for burgers with him,” White said. “Isn’t that a great trade?”