Church Door Knob


The keys were jingling as Dad tried to insert one into the church’s doorknob. It went in easily but now he could not get them to turn in the lock and he could not pull it out.

“Well, I was afraid of that,” Dad said as he looked down at me.

He gave the set of keys one more tug then he let out a heavy sigh.

Dad had carried his toolbox to the door with him. He was prepared for the lock to give him problems.

Father Charles had call him, saying there was a difficulty getting into the church the Sunday before. That was nearly a week ago.

It was important to get the lock fixed as church would be the following day and Father Charles would not want to hold Mass out side.

The first tool Dad pulled out was his Philips screwdriver. He started removing the faceplate behind the knob.

“They should have put in a separate lock from the knob,” he said to me. Then he added, “It would be more secure that way.”

Removing a knob from a door was something I had never seen. And I was keenly interested in what was about to occur.

“I’ll hand you the tool you need, Dad. Ask me. Let me help,” I said nearly begging.

“Flathead screw driver,” Dad directed.

It sounded so exotic to me. I looked down into the old beat up gray chest full of tools,

“Which one is that?” I asked.

Dad looked at the tools then pointed, “That one.”

I picked it up and handed it to him.

He started to pry the faceplate away from the wood of the door. It would not budge.

Dad shifted his position. Still the faceplate would not loosen.

“Give me the hammer,” he commanded.

Immediately I grabbed it and handed it to him.

He struck the yellow handle of the flat head screwdriver a couple of times and still it would not come loose. Dad changed positions again, then he turned the keys, which were still in the lock.

The knob turned free and the door opened up.

“Well, I’ll be damned,” Dad, said out loud.

Dad had gotten the door to unlock, he had fixed it. Then Dad discovered that the keys still would not come out of the lock.

“At least we got the door to open,” he commented as he swung the door wide to look at the other side of the knob.

Dad examined the inside doorknob for a moment, making several thoughtful, “Hmm’s” as he looked and wiggled the knob back and forth. I reached up and pulled at the keys.

“Don’t,” Dad half-shouted.

I pulled my hands away and put them behind my back.

Dad then picked up the Phillip screwdriver and proceeded to undo the faceplate on the inside of the door. I had seen this part done before and nothing interesting had happened because of it, so I wondered into the church.

There was the altar and the many rows of pews, plus the two marble statues, one of the Virgin Mary and the other of another saint I did not know. But the most interesting item to me was the life-like cross with the body of Christ on it, as he was dying.

“Damn it!” Dad said loudly.

I walked back as quickly as I could to see what the problem was, thinking perhaps by wandering off I might have caused him some problem.

“Can I help?” I asked.

“Nope,” Dad said as he shook his head back and forth, “I can’t get the knob off,” he added with a sigh.

While Dad was standing outside the church and I was inside examining the situation. I decided to reached up and grabbed the knob on from my side of the door and pull it straight towards me.

Suddenly I heard the metallic ring of the knob on the other side as it bounced off the cement steps. In my hand was the inside doorknob.

“What in the hell did you do?” asked Dad.

I could tell Dad was frustrated but he was even more surprised.

I held the small brass globe out to him, “I—-I—-I just pulled back on it,” I stuttered.

Dad reached down and took the knob from me.

“Well, I’ll be a son of a bitch,” he said.

He shook his head then dropped the knob into his toolbox. We two spent the next half hour or so replacing the old knob and lock.

Later I heard Dad tell Mom, “I spent an hour beating on the damned thing and he walks up and it comes off in his hand.”

“Now, Tom,” Mom said, “You know that if he hadn’t done that, you’d still be there cussing at that doorknob.”

Dad laughed at the thought.

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