December 9th, 2003
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hidden secrets

A recent post by Robot Johnny talks about a “secret” gallery in the city showcasing Group of Seven paintings. It reminded me of another little known secret. I worked for a few years at Nicholas Hoare Books in Toronto, (on Front street). It is a cozy place with a big fireplace, creaky old floors and real feather stuffed couches. Scattered throughout the store is a lovely collection of great Canadian paintings (one is actually an A.J. Casson if I remember correctly). Most people do not register this fact. But the most interesting thing to me was that several of these paintings are hung onto hidden doors where the overstock is kept, it is truly like in the movies where the safe if hidden behind the valuable art. The first time I saw someone open one of the doors the Nancy Drew in me got completely excited. There were many hidden compartments in that place. Books and mysteries seem to go together like beans on toast (yes that is a popular British/Canadian delicacy, I am well aware that some people in the US are revolted by the thought of it, but trust me it’s excellent. Simon documents it beautifully.)
When I was in Paris I made a visit to Shakespeare & Co. on the left bank of the Sienne which is famous for having little cubby holes behind various curtains (for weary travellers who exchange work for a place to sleep.) A sign over one of the doors reads:
“Be not inhospitable to strangers, lest they be angels in disguise.”
Another secret which sends my imagination into a whirlwind…
Several years ago in my town there was a renovation being done on the historic Munshaw House, built 1849. While they were digging they uncovered an underground tunnel with a room at the end. It was never investigated and the owner closed it back up for fear of the added cost. I have postulated at length about what the room was for, (bootlegging liquor, brothel, hidden fortune). The mysterious story begs to be made into a novel. Every time I walk past it, which is mostly every day, my curiosity is aroused. More than one ghost has been sighted in the building, if only they could talk.
Last week while cleaning the mantle of my fireplace I noticed a little door inside one of the air vents. It is on hinges and has a little latch that one might be able to attach a string to. I made several attempts to reach it to no avail. Is this where the hidden fortune of the previous owner is concealed?
My friend Rama has hidden links to secret pages throughout his website. I spent way too much time trying to find them all one day. It is a brilliant idea, we should all have many hidden secrets.
I have a secret habit of hiding notes in the holes of trees.
send a secret message.

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