A Padlocked Door…

Our trip to Kingsland in the Texas hill country included a locked room in our suite that drove me to distraction…


Ever curious it invoked almost too much temptation for me to ignore.

As a child and young adult if I could find a way to open a door closed to me, without being found out, I would.

The doors I’ve opened reveal nothing very remarkable, no horror of Bluebeard’s murdered wives…but I, like the young wife, am carried away by curiosity.

I must not have been brought up with much of an emphasis on respecting other people’s property…

Adults around me had full access to my room, dormitory cubicle, wardrobes, cupboards and probably diaries, since I never thought it worthwhile to hide mine.  Nothing belonging to children was out of bounds in the places I was raised.

I don’t have anything to hide…” was one of my mother’s sayings, though I never dreamed of going through her belongings since her room was never closed to me.

As such I too grew up with nothing to hide.

At least nothing material.

As I grew older, and got out more, I developed a sense of respect for others’ belongings and whether they wanted me opening their fridge just to see which shelf they kept their milk on.  I discovered that my parents did indeed have a strong sense of their own privacy by not allowing me a key to their house, or to pour myself a cup of water, or forage for a snack when I visited.  They fiercely dissuaded anyone to drop in unannounced refusing to answer the door to unexpected company.

In direct response to my upbringing my door is always open and my children all had a Secret Hiding Place – a plastic box that fit under their beds and was sacred – unless the owner of the box chose to share its contents it remained a secret.

Today they are all stored in Footlights’ attic and hold precious memories that were carefully sorted through when we were selling Collins, the family home, six years ago.

I never trespassed.  Their bedroom doors were always open.

The hotel in Kingsland was called The Antlers and was built in 1903 by the local railroad for their passengers who alighted close to the banks of the Colorado river.


An historic property, gracious, rambling and creaky, probably with ghosts if one lingered in the upstairs lobby too long without a light.  During our mid-week stay we were the only guests.

It was quiet with lots of locked rooms, which didn’t bother me because I knew they would just be empty, impersonal bedrooms waiting to be booked.  We had the whole upstairs verandah to ourselves and enjoyed the hush in the evenings swinging on the glider.


Our suite was large, with a bathroom and a kitchen,


and the aforementioned…padlocked door.


In our room!

With the bolt provocatively on my side.

I went into the garden below and looked up at the walls under the eaves.  I deduced that the mysterious door appeared to lead directly into an adjacent space…all kinds of suppositions and imaginings began to race around in my over-active imagination…a Bertha-esque figure (from Jane Eyre) could be sitting in the attic room.  I listened for breathing or perhaps a dry cough.

Of course try as I might (which wasn’t very hard) I didn’t get it open.

I made a fuss about peeking beneath the door, rattling the doorknob, taking photos, calling through the key-hole…

There was no response…of course.

“Just storage,” sensible Hubs declared.

I did get another childhood memory working though,


An antique clock that resembled one in my grandparents’ house.

I wound it as I’d seen my grandfather do, set the pendulum in motion and watched as its hands slowly made a revolution and listened as it announced the quarter hours.

At six it began to chime.  I clapped my hands and began counting,

Hubs joined in and we got to twenty some odd until it finally gasped and expired!

“Wow, I think we wore the old thing out,” I laughed!

And the room behind the locked door remained a tantalizing mystery.


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