A Real Secret Compartment!

All kinds of interesting vintage pieces come into our shop all the time. Sometimes we let them be and they sell right away, so it is a quick hello and a faster goodbye. Other times, something unique catches my immediate attention and I can’t wait to explore it. One day, I was searching a nightstand that had come in early that morning. We had acquired it a few days ago from an estate sale. I had never heard of the family. Most of the items were very fine quality and Mum and I considered it a “good haul.” It became even better when I discovered a secret compartment. This kind of find adds to a piece’s value since buyers love these special features. I would point it out to buyers for sure.

I didn’t know what to expect inside: jewelry, money, a photo, or other treasure. It was not to be. I found a lonely small canister of pepper spray. I suppose it was stashed there to ward off a thief or what we now call a “home invader.” It was pretty old so I doubt if it still worked. I started to imagine the previous owner: an elderly spinster wearing a lace and satin nightgown to bed covered by a bed jacket. Women wore them until maybe the fifties to keep warm. Now they look so old-fashioned, but I have sold one or two in the store. Meanwhile, the old woman had purchased the pepper spray after reading about it on Self Defense Guide. I suppose she learned how to use it, although she had to test it herself given that there were no instructions available on the nonexistent Internet. The will remain unknown. It is truly a secret compartment. I have invented its story.

It made me think about the vulnerability of women, especially those who live alone. It wasn’t popular for girls to play sports in those days and certainly not to take a martial arts class, as they do now. Women were truly the weaker sex. The old lady needed to feel secure and had not considered a burglar alarm – what we now term a security system. She probably was terrified of guns and knives or anything violent. Pepper spray has been around forever and perhaps a relative or brother told her about it. Her can was small so they made “purse size” even in those days. I wonder if she ever used it by accident on a noisy housekeeper or dog.

All this contemplation has made me want to get some pepper spray (popularly known by the brand name, Mace). I could keep it in the shop when I am alone. It would be perfect to place in the small drawer next to the cash register. I could get a second can for home and maybe one for Mum. I can buy in bulk online. Ha! Who else in my neighborhood needs one.