Search for Secret Rooms

March 31, 2009

When I was a kid in the 1960s and lived in an old rented house (old by Florida standards — 1930s), I was convinced it had hidden spaces.

Off the living room was an alcove we called the library. One wall had a love seat and window looking out onto an orange grove. The other two walls had built-in, floor-to-ceiling shelves lined with books. The books belonged to the original owner, who had died.

Many times I removed books and searched the wood behind them for a secret button or other devices. I was sure there was a way to reveal a mysterious room leading who knows where. This mania stemmed from watching mystery movies, including The Phantom Empire, and reading Hardy Boys books.

Reading today about a South Carolina family finding as many as four buried rooms adjoining their home, I thought of my vain searches and the charge they gave me. Not finding what I sought never mattered. The thrill of the hunt offset any disappointment.

Eventually I gave up, probably about the time I started looking at some of the dead guy’s books. The medical texts with detailed anatomical drawings. Of women. With explanations for all the parts.

The mystery was just beginning.