Sounds like something JS was familiar with on the frontier.
In Colonial and pioneer times, people had secret chambers to hide in case of Indian attacks. Even earlier, during the English religious wars, Catholic homes may have had "priest holes," a hiding place under floorboards to hide priests.
I was visiting a neighbor at my property in a rural part of Massachusetts, and they showed me one such hiding place. It looked like a small chamber to stack firewood, but behind it was a panel that opened with a small chamber behind the chimney. Their house was built in 1755 or so. My farmhouse dates to 1735, so I did some exploring, and found one of my own!
King Philips War was 1675-78, very vicious on both sides. My property is not too distant from the Deerfield Massacre. So my house's construction was within memory of that tragedy.
I spoke with a contractor who said there's renewed interest in "safe rooms." Welcome to the 21st Century.
Generally, escape rooms have themes like solving mysteries, finding hidden treasure, pulling off a bank heist, etc.
Teams usually in the range of 4 to 6 people spend usually an hour solving puzzles, hidden in and among the objects in the room. The puzzle might include such things as finding a hidden key for an obvious lock, deciphering codes, finding hidden compartments, arranging items in specific ways, etc.
Once a team has solved all the room's puzzles, the room opens and the team wins. If they don't solve all the puzzles within the time limit, the room opens and the game ends.
While I enjoy puzzles, I don't deal well with being closed in, so the only escape I ever did was in a huge space and the door was kept open the whole time.
Thank you for the explanation, Tyson. It just seemed so weird for these particular folks, TBM through and through, to go to a place like that for entertainment. Seems so out of character for them to do so.
I did an escape room with a “Once Upon a Time” theme last summer with my granddaughter and niece. I would have hated it except for the fact that I had so much fun watching them figure out the clues that I loved it. I got one clue, they got the other 15 or more. And we made it with a minute and a half to spare. I REALLY felt old.
But I could probably beat them royally on the Secret Combinations one. I’d be like, “I know, I know, it’s a veil so the clue must be health in the navel and marrow in the bones. So there’s a bone by the stuffed dog. Pick that up and there’s probably a latch so you can open the bone up and where the marrow would be. There must be a plastic knife in it. So take the knife and hold it up to the picture of Captain Moroni and put it under his left ear. Then draw it quickly across the picture to the other ear and a secret drawer will open with a scroll that says “that will do” and inside will be a key that will unlock the first token and let us into the second token room!” And they’d be all “Grandma, you’re so smart!” And I’ll be all “I love you but now I have to suffer... my life... to be taken.” But they are really smart so they’ll tell me that’s bullshit, it’s just a game and we’ll go on playing it.
BTW, that IS the way those clues work. These teens and pre-teens are figuring it all out and old granny is over there like “WTF?? How did y’all know to do that?” So I admit it’s great family fun. We laughed so hard for an hour.