Thursday, December 26, 2013

Bar the door!

  In just six days I'll have lived here at Pinehaven for 27 years. Previously, the longest I lived anywhere was at our second home in Miamisburg for 24 years (1956-1980). Being intimately familiar with a place, you begin to assimilate the structure into your very soul. I know every creak the house makes. I know when the desk in the living room will make a sound after the furnace has been on for some minutes. I can walk through the house in the dark, never having to feel for where I am. Pinehaven is part external body to me. It grows around me like a shell.

 Every waking day, I'm opening and closing doors. I often stop, though, and think about other hands that have grasped these same fixtures and I am somewhat taken aback by the shock of it. These same doors opened and closed to others! It is heady thought because I am no more than a visitor here, passing through.

 Take the second floor bathroom door for instance:

 This door has clearly had a torturous past. A somewhat modern sliding lock holds it closed. A wooden thread spool serves as white-painted handle. A keyhole sits below, unused ... unusable.
 To understand why, have a look at the other side:

 Did I say "torturous past" without reason? At one time in the house's distant past (probably late 1800's to the turn of the century), this door held a fine lock assembly with a skeleton key mechanism. It was ripped wholly from the door. How I would like to travel back in time to that event and see (and hear!) what happened. (This room would not have been a bathroom initially; there was no indoor plumbing at that time).
 I imagine the door was locked and someone wanted in. Now! They pulled and pulled the door with great force until the wood split asunder. Repairs were made with a wooden spool and a bolt placed through its center.
 (What's even more interesting to me is that this tiny room has two doors)
 I may have found the lock mechanism that once bared this door:

 I found it in the barn. The mechanism, if held against the splintered wood, seems to fit the profile. The lock was patented in 1863, mid-way through the Civil War. Abraham Lincoln had less than 21 months to live.

 This is the handle on the outside on my bedroom door. Clearly, this door is another that has seen better days. The wood is split from a violent pull in this direction (from outside the room). I have never repaired any of these defects. I like better to see them and reminisce about the wooden past. I would not cover up the violence. I would show it to the world for what it is.
 The wall in my bedroom above my desk has a bulbous wave to it. It is not flat. And though I might have sanded it down smooth when I removed the wallpaper after we first moved in, I'd never have considered it. I love character and perfect lacks it.

 I call this our "Rube Goldberg" latch. It locks the door going from Mom's bedroom out into the attic above the kitchen. That attic did not exist in the original house so this lock is not so old. Still, was there any need for the mechanism to be so complicated? I think the slide lock (original picture) makes more sense.
 And yet this is beautiful, is it not? It doesn't merely lock the door: it causes your mind to leave the road, wrecks it somewhere along the way, causes you to consider complication as the mother of invention. It doesn't just lock the door; it shows you how securely it is locked.

 I look at each of these locks daily, lay my hand where other flesh has grasped and know full well that while I hope to open other doors, I mostly open those already swung wide in the past.

1 comment:

  1. Not sure why we have a love of old intricate key box locks? They can be beautiful! We love the design of older keys, locks, and nothing like a glass or porcelain doorknob.

    Think of all the hands that reached for those with comings and goings...

    Today, nothing so interesting in modern keys and locks - just a function of security.

    The older lock box you found in the garage is amazing - like a piece of artwork - deserves to be rehung for all to enjoy!

    I love to look at old keys, so much time and effort and design was put into making them unique.
    Like old typewriter keys -something draws us to these, too. Almost art.

    Now, we have a new set of keys - that have become part of our daily life. If only we could use the really important one in real life as often we wish we could just sometimes, delete...delete...delete...

    I enjoyed this blog - Thx