Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sleeping Accommodations

By Rob Watson
Some may wonder at my thought processes, In truth I wonder myself. Tonight I was putting on my wool socks and reliving the joys of walking on my extra luxurious wool carpet, when I began to contemplate all the places I have slept. Well, maybe not so unusual, I am a floor sleeper. I like to lay on the floor. I like the extra room, the lack of directionality, and, that soft, soft, wool carpet. 

It all began way back when they invented TV, or, at least, invented one my fiscally conservative parents would buy. I was about six years old. Before the invention of TV, my family played games at the dinning room table, or listened to the then popular radio programs, for entertainment after supper and before bed. 

The games were Canasta or Monopoly. I hated Clue. It is fair to say I was clueless at Clue. Monopoly made sense to me and I frequently won. My strategy was to buy up the railroads, Boardwalk, and Park Place, build them up and hang on to the bitter end. 

From the earliest times, I remember a crib and sharing a room with my older brother. I graduated to a swayback army cot with one of those hard, packed cotton, army mattresses. My brother, my senior by twelve years, had a huge, from my prospective at the time, double bed. When he went off for college I was still stuck with my army cot. I remember it was so sway backed that the only comfortable position was laying flat, well not exactly flat, on my back with my arms straight down at my sides. As I lay there, I recall, frequently imagining I was in my rocket flying around in space, five years before the first man left the earth in his rocket. I remember having back problems from as young as the age of 14. 

I became a floor sleeper with the invention of TV because I had a soft, thin, flannel blanket. The nearest equivalent today would be a cotton flannel sheet, and yes, I still have one today. My security blanket was pale yellow. I would lay on the edge of the blanket, at the edge of the floor, and roll my skinny little body into the blanket, ending in the middle of the floor, in front of the gas burning stove, and coincidentally, the TV. There I would lay, squirming around into various comfortable positions, taking care not to unroll my security blanket, until I went to sleep. Daddy apparently carried me to bed, for I always woke up in the morning tucked warmly into my own little swayback army cot. 

In those early years I had my tonsils removed and caught a couple of illnesses that required hospitalization. I liked those crank up hospital beds with the firm mattresses, soft when compared with my army cot. What I did not care for was being awakened every two hours for a penicillin shot in the butt. 

About the age of ten, we moved. I got a used twin bed with an extra soft mattress and sagging springs. For some reason my parents put a piece of plywood between the springs and the mattress. Perhaps it was at my request, because I remember it being vastly more comfortable after the insertion of the board. We lived in the rear of my parents’ store. The four of us slept in the same room for a while. When my sister, older by twenty-two months, reached puberty and began to develop, they decided we each needed our separate rooms. Sister’s room was something like 15 feet square with a 12 foot closet.

Mine was seven feet wide, eleven feet long, and had a twelve foot ceiling. That space held my bed, my desk, a four foot by two foot clothes closet, Sister’s old chest of drawers, and shelves for my one hundred plus model boats and airplanes. My one window was two feet square and eight feet from the floor. I could adjust the window by standing on the bed. This was my private space until I went off to college and, in my absence, my parents built their dream house on the lake. 

My room there was vastly more commodious, but as you shall quickly see, almost never used. I got a new solid pecan chest of drawers, that I still have today nearly fifty years later. In college I spent two and a half years in the dorms, then with my best friend, moved off campus into a three bedroom mobile home... a forty by eight foot mobile home. 

I had the luxury suite, just over seven feet long and five feet wide. My closet may have been two feet wide and 18 inches deep. Friend’s room was one inch shorter than his six feet, one inch height and his only floor space doubled as the path from the kitchen to the bathroom. The bath room was a wonder of compact organization. at four feet by four feet, it contained a sink a toilet and a bathtub. To borrow a phrase from the military, you could “shit, shower, and shave” without taking more than a single step. You could, in fact, shave while taking care the other natural body processes. Actually there was only one direction in which you could take the one step and that step took you out of the bathroom. There are many more stories about life in that mobile home that I shall leave for another time. A great adventure to be sure. 

After college I was abandoned by my best friend and took on a wife. I renovated the suite by taking out the closet and the built in chest of drawers to allow for our new, wedding gift, queen size bed. There was one foot space at the end of the bed and a full eighteen inches on the side not jammed against the wall. To shorten a long story, After a year or so in the mobile home, Wife was anxious to have more conventional accommodations. Today, in compensation for shortages of space, my current bedroom and master bath combined, exceed the square footage of that whole trailer by some two hundred square feet or so. 

Now, can you really believe that I spent my entire life in small spaces and uncomfortable beds? Well, not now, but there were other times... I was a boy scout until I finished college. I spent many nights on the cold hard ground. Yes, I know about air mattresses. I had many. None lasted a whole night, except for one, and few lasted more than the time it took to blow them up and lay down on them. I never acquired a taste for sleeping on the ground. It has all the attributes of a bare hardwood floor plus it is cold in cold weather, hot in hot weather and lumpy in all weathers. I may invest in a camping cot someday. Perhaps something to bring back the nostalgia of an old swayback army cot. 

On the way back from the National Boy Scout Jamboree in Colorado Springs, still a skinny little boy, I pulled my duffel bag and pack from the overhead luggage rack, wrapped up in my sleeping bag, and crawled into the luggage rack myself. I was quite comfortable with the train car’s air conditioning blowing directly on me. Somewhat larger, a few years later, for the trip home from the National Boy Scout Jamboree at Valley Forge, I slept wrapped around the toilet of that train car. The rest of my body can be bent but my legs have to be straight. Train and bus seats just don’t do the trick. Why, only on the way back, you ask. Well nobody sleeps on the way to a Jamboree.

No comments:

Post a Comment