Photo courtesy of riotdaily.com
It wasn’t just adventure or the forbidden I craved as a kid, it was the unknown. In fact, I think that was my true, underlying desire: to see things “never before witnessed by human eye!” Not surprisingly, I had a growing love of fantasy and science fiction (fed by Disney movies like Peter Pan and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea). But I didn’t want to just read about unknown places–I wanted to visit them!
And so I did.
One such place was the only pre-suburban house in our city. It was, as I recall, a dead-ringer for the Adam’s Family mansion, a creaky-creepy old Victorian with those two seductive words “No Trespassing” posted on its front door. For a brief, magical time as many as a dozen neighborhood kids would sneak in and play “haunted house” there, making ghostly sounds, and whispering, “Who said that?” “Not me!” And most wondrous of all was the dumb waiter we used to transport each other from floor-to-floor. It had once been used, we had on good authority, to lower murder victims into the basement, whence they would be secretly entombed.
Tragically, our haunted house was boarded up and torn-down a short time later.
But then I discovered another magical place. It may not sound magical, but the upstairs Men’s Restroom at the back of Hiram’s Supermarket housed the secret portal to another world. One day while I was “ocupado” in a stall, I spotted a trapdoor in the low-hanging ceiling. I promptly told my two bffs about it. And we did what any eight-year-old adrenaline-addicts would do: stood on a stack of toilet paper rolls, and pulled ourselves up into Hiram’s Heaven!
It was a thrillingly perilous place, to be sure, where to step on any of the drop-tiled foam panels would result in a 25’ plunge down into the frozen foods, or worse the canned goods. Whereupon one would hear the words, “You are in so much trouble, mister!” when one awoke in the hospital (assuming one had survived the canned goods). But if we walked spread-eagled across the wooden beams (do eagles actually do this?), we could go anywhere in this vast alternative universe!
From there we could look down, like gods from Mt. Olympus (through any lighting fixture hole), at the mere mortals below, who naturally assumed no one was watching them. What we saw was sometimes dull, but often funny, embarrassing, or even illegal–sights “never before witnessed by human eye!”
And yet these magical places paled in comparison to…the Tunnel of Doom!
But that will have to wait until next time!