Monday, January 17, 2022

The Oval Puzzlebox

Part of the contents of the package.
 My brother in Pittsburgh sent me some of my parents' mementos which he discovered in the basement. The package included. among other things, a duck decoy, my father's pocket knife, some of Mom's silver jewelry, some coins, a 10 oz silver bar they purchased in 1989 (with invoice), and a wooden oval box. The box contained some of Dad's military pins, including his honorable service pin (also known as the "ruptured duck"), some masonic pins, and a plastic Heinz pickle pin. But it is the box that this story is about.

When I first opened the oval, wooden box up, I heard something rattling around inside the lid. I thought it might contain a false top, and, looking at it, there was a small hole at one end, with scotch tape covering it. I pulled off the tape, and started to try to figure out what the hole was for. After some man-handling, a small metal peg came part-way out of the hole.

At this point I realized that the puzzlebox did not have a false top, but rather a secret lock, and the pin was the locking mechanism. But now I had put it in the locked position, and that way I could not put the lid back on the box correctly. After about ten minutes of fiddling about to no avail, I turned to the Internet, and much to my relief, there was a video for how to unlock (and lock) the box, called an oval spin box. Mastering that craft, I got the metal peg back into the lid, and could close the box properly.

And that also explained the scotch tape. My parents had taped up the little hole in the box lid to keep the pin from sliding out and accidentally locking the box, which they would have to figure out how to open again (withOUT the benefit of the Internet). Needless to say, I put the scotch tape BACK, and now the box in on the shelf over my desk, with other mementos, like a zeppelin stamp, a Maltese Falcon, and a framed copy of our wedding invitation.

And I am putting this down in case some future generation comes across the box, and finds that either it cannot be opened or, worse yet, cannot be closed. And to them I will give the warning that all investigators are faced with when dealing with some eldritch chest - don't remove the scotch tape. 

More later,