It’s been a while back. Back when thrift stores had actual “thrift”, as opposed to “above original retail cost”, prices. (In some cases, you can still find the original, lower than thrift, close-out store prices still tagged on the bottoms of items). When such stores were filled with thrilled personal treasure seekers. As opposed to those stocking their e-bay resale inventory.
A simpler, smarter time. When people realized that something being “old” doesn’t always equate it being antique, vintage or valuable. Reality — despite the age of something you have, it’s only worth what someone else is willing to pay for it.
This golden era of reasonable resale rippled the rafters of the antique industry also. Little mom & pop antiquity shops had sprung up aplenty and were thriving. But it’s not the era, items or patrons that we’re focusing on. Rather the shop itself. One in particular, that had a rather unique and deadly feature.
It was a two-story wood and brick job which had been refurbished into an antique and curiosity shop. Owned and operated by a friendly older couple who’d decided to spend their retirement as entrepreneurs. The place was always clean, with the stock rotated and updated weekly, which made my frequent visits more pleasant and interesting.
On one such visit, whilst ascending to the second level, something new and different caught my eye — a door. Had it been there before? Had they added a room? Curiosity overrode common sense. Stepping immediately to the door, turning the knob and stepping into… open air.
A moment later, curiosity transformed to terror with feet swinging over the storefront sidewalk below. Reflexes, grabbing upward, finding purchase on the outer knob, swinging back into shop before the folks below knew my idiotic presence above. Yeah, a proper chat with the proprietors was in order.
They were concerned and apologetic. Having only just discovered the “door to nothing” while removing some old paneling a few days before, they hadn’t gotten around to blocking it off. Unnecessary apologies were waved aside with curiosity reinstated in the form of a question: why was it there and what was it for? They had no idea.
From the outside the door was almost invisible. It had been painted to match the buildings face and if you didn’t know it was there you wouldn’t. Further provoking the what the hell was it there for factor. An old-school construction fail? A carpenter’s practical joke? A way to ensure unwanted an guest wouldn’t return when they were shown the “special” exit? A quest for answers brought a variety of results, because as it turned out, this wasn’t a singular random phenomenon.
For colder climates, 2nd story doors could serve as a means of escape, in the event of severe and heavy snowfall. But what about warmer areas?
Some older homes had a 2nd floor door for the admission of hoisted heavier household items, as well as coal for heating upper levels. This kept damage and filth, via transport through lower levels and tight stairwells, to a minimum.
Though both these explanations are good (and true) the most common claim for “doors to nothing” is the passage of time and negligent renovation. An adjoining building is taken down- an adjoining door left behind. Fire-escapes corrode and collapse. You can still escape… just without stairs. Balconies and terraces are expensive to replace. So, tear them down, patch the holes and repaint, but why in holy hell leave the “door to nothing”? Can you not foresee potential repercussions? Do you know how many morons step through doors without a second thought? (I can personally vouch for at least one). But what if it didn’t lead to nothing?
What lies behind the 2nd floor door that never had a neighboring building, fire escape, balcony or terrace? One never meant for escape or use from the outside? A 2nd floor door that looks to predate logical placement as well as the building in which it resides?
Could it be… that if you were the right person, that found the right door, who knew the right words to say, while turning the knob just the right way, and went through at just the right time, that maybe that “door to nothing” would lead to… something? Or maybe just realize that some doors are best remained closed.
I welcome almost all questions, comments via FOCUS, or E-mail me at [email protected]. Hope to hear from ya, until then try and stay focused! See ya.