Skeleton key

This is the old brass front door key to the house I was born in, grew up in, and still live in. My mother gave it to me when I was in grammar school, so I could let myself in after school. I was the youngest of five children, and by the time I was in school, my mother had gone back to work. I used it a lot. I loved having it in my pocket. None of the other kids in school had such an old-fashioned key. It was more like a movie prop than an everyday item. It never fit with the other keys I carried. It stuck out. I can still distinctly recall fumbling with the key, which in my imagination is much larger than it currently is, or I was that much smaller, trying to get it to engage the tumblers so the door would unlock. You'd have to fish around a bit to make it work. My mother hated that, I thought it was fun. It's age was comforting to me. We'd been in the neighborhood for a long time, like the house. I didn't know that was unusual when I was little. I thought everybody was like us. When I got older, I found out that Cambridge is a transient town. When you tell people you live there, more often than not they'll ask where lived before that. My family arrived in Boston in the 1880s, were in Cambridge by 1890, and stayed put. The house my folks bought in 1955 was built about the same time their grandparents moved here. My folks had the locks changed in the 90s, but I kept my key.

Year: 1890

– Ed Rodley

Relationship:  unknown unknown