I love old houses. I adore the charm, the craftsmanship and the history. Our first house – in Toledo’s amazing Old West End neighborhood* – was a 1912 bungalow and it was love at first sight (tiny kitchen and all). We didn’t do much to that house other then some paint and a few new plumbing fixtures. Our current home in Shaker Heights is a much larger colonial which needs some cosmetic and mechanical work. Of course when you prefer old houses you usually give up some conveniences like central A/C and, in the case of both our houses, a dishwasher (but we cut out a cabinet a few months ago and put one in and for the first time in 7 years didn’t have to hand-wash our dishes).
What I’m saying is for us old houses fit best even with the trade-offs. Because in a newer house you don’t always get the moulding, the solid wood doors, the built-ins or the glass doorknobs over brass plates and locks with keys. But a few nights ago we realized why the modernization of the lock was such a good thing. If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you probably saw my update about M locking herself inside our bedroom and the lengths we had to go through to get her out. All the bedroom doors in our house have old-fashioned keyholes and skeleton keys. We hardly ever use them and the keys mostly reside on the top of the door frame. Apparently the key was in the lock on the inside of our bedroom door because M somehow managed to not only slam the door shut but turn the key.
My first reaction was to laugh – I couldn’t help but think that we had joined the ranks of the millions of parents who have some dramatic story about their kid locking themselves in something – a room, a car, a garage, etc. Mark didn’t have the same outlook and got mad at me for laughing. We tried to get M to turn the key but she didn’t quite comprehend the request. We tried using a key from the hallway, but with the key in the lock from the other side we couldn’t get it in. We took the doorknob apart but discovered the lock was a separate mechanism and we still couldn’t unlock the door. I still was laughing at this point – much to my husbands dismay – because I figured we could go in through the window since we never remember to lock them. The thing about old wood windows is that they are usually pretty lose in the frame making it easy to open from the outside if they are unlocked – not so great for the heating bill, but perfect for breaking and entering. Then M hurt her finger as she was trying to turn the inside key and started to cry. I stopped laughing and barked at Mark to go get the ladder and go through the window.
I told M to get down to the floor so I could see her under the door and she was so pathetic – “mama, come closer to me! Kiss my boo-boo!”. Then I could hear Mark trying to open the side window without any luck. The noise scared M and I felt awful that I couldn’t comfort her. Mark moved around to the front window and managed to get it open and as I watched through the keyhole M went over to see what he was doing. When he climbed in and opened the door I said “M, daddy saved you!” and she said “Daddy, you my Prince Eric!” (Little Mermaid reference). M was none worse for the wear, I was laughing about it again and Mark was mad at me again for laughing.
You gotta love old houses with their old locks and loose windows.
On a related note, we are starting to get estimates to replace/upgrade the 90-year-old electrical system and replace the original boiler. Hold me.
*Seriously – the OWE is like a magical place: porch parties, close knit neighbors, super-low taxes and amazing houses. It had it’s downfalls (piss-poor school system and crime) but man I miss the old ‘hood. Good thing we are going back to visit during the OWE Festival this weekend.