Bunk beds

Bunk beds can present a challenge sometimes depending on who sleeps on the top bed. —Unsplash photo/Marcus Loke

Last night, all of us did the same thing. If not, you did it at some point during the past 24 hours. After all, it is something that you cannot avoid and without it, survival is impossible. We cannot survive without getting the sleep we require.

And what helps us with that sleep? Beds. For the most part, we sleep on a king, queen, standard or twin bed. Those living in cramped conditions may sleep on some type of inflatable bed. Beds that can be adjusted to a variety of positions are popular today. Today, many homeowners have adjustable beds that permit couples to each select their individual positions. For example, one might lie flat while the other has the head elevated to watch television or accommodate a medical condition. Let us travel back in time and look at the types of beds on which people slept, back in the day.

How many of you climb a ladder to get into bed? I am referring to the infamous bunk bed. These have one bed frame that is stacked on top of another. In the past, they were associated with the military, dormitories and prisons. Some of you recall that there were occasionally challenges with regard to who would sleep on the top bed. As some of you experienced, the person with bed-wetting problems would never sleep on top. After all, “plumbing problems” could result in leaks to the bottom level bed.

A few of you had an experience with the loft bed; a bed that is similar to the bunk bed. However, there is no lower bunk to the loft bed, thus leaving space under the top bunk for storage, a desk or other pieces of furniture.

Some of you see the usefulness of the folding or rollaway bed. It is handy when you have visitors or when traveling and additional sleeping needs are required. This bed, with foldable frames, can be rolled to or from a designated location to increase the number of people that could sleep in a particular room. As a child, due to limited space, I slept on a folding bed on many occasions. How well I remember rolling the bed out from against the wall and then struggling to open it up. Even more, I struggled to fold the bed back up once I awakened in the morning. The folding bed had an uncomfortable mattress with little or no springs. Yet, many families today, survive with folding beds, just as many families did, back in the day.

An interesting piece of information from the publication, “Our Weekly,” indicated that in the late 1800s, a Black American inventor named Leonard C. Bailey received a patent for a folding bed. The patent diagram depicted a metal bed frame and mattress that folded in the center.

Another bed from back in the day is the Murphy bed often seen in movies. The head of this bed was attached to a mechanism that enabled the bed to flip into a wall cavity when not in use. Interestingly, the Murphy bed is still being manufactured but not widely used.

Can you recall sleeping on a sofa bed? Sofa beds served as a couch or sofa during the day and were unfolded to reveal the sleeping portion at night. As you recall, the bed is stored inside of the sofa. This bed has also been found in other pieces of furniture such as a shelf, a desk or even a closet when not being used. Some referred to this as a day bed, convertible bed, or a hideaway bed. These beds were great for limited space and remain popular today for efficiency or loft apartments.

Some of you might recall the grandfather of the sofa bed. It was the Castro Convertible. Perhaps you recall the trundle bed: a bed that was usually stored under another bed and pulled out when needed. This bed is still used today. Then there was the platform bed that was simply a mattress resting on a solid flat raised surface. Lots of families without means slept on platform beds and other families or individuals sometimes slept on mattresses placed on the floor when there was no platform.

Some — though not many these days — still prefer the waterbed, a flexible plastic mattress filled with water was another option for a bed. Of course, I cannot ignore camp beds, cots, hospital beds and for newborns, bassinets and cribs. Some of you may recall that newborns, back in the day, sometimes slept in laundry baskets or in drawers.

With all the various beds that I have mentioned, I failed to take a close look at the definition of a bed. Simply stated, a bed is a piece of furniture which is used as a place to sleep, relax and to have sex. Now, this is what my research reveals.

Beds have an interesting history that you may want to explore. I am not suggesting that we go back to beds of the past. At least not so far back as the days of ancient history when beds first surfaced; a time when grass bedding, straw and other soft materials were the beds on which people slept, far back in the day.

Kittrels can be reached at backintheday@phillytrib.com or The Philadelphia Tribune, Back In The Day, 520 S. 16th St., Philadelphia, PA 19146

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