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Five To A Bed
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Five To A Bed


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Southern engineering is marvelous.  And, when you're poor as the dirt you farm, it's even more ingenious at what you can do with what you've got . . . , and also how little you can get by with.

We were poor, really poor.  I remember Grandpa had a family of three boys, and a girl still at home when I was just a little bitty tyke.  They lived in a one bedroom house.  The bedroom, quite large (or it seemed quite large to me, probably 'cause I was so little), had two full size beds in it.  These beds had feather mattresses and pillows on them, and it was nearly like sinking down into water when you were on them by yourself.

Nowadays, we have 3 bedrooms and a bath, but back then, all we had was 1 bedroom and a path.  No indoor plumbing.  And NO ONE went into the outhouse at night!

No peeing off the porch

Come night time, the ladies all used the chamber pot under the bed while the men and boys all stepped out to the front porch where individual streams which sounded something akin to rain confirmed the audible sighs of relief they felt.  When they came into the bedroom, all the ladies were already under the covers, and the men paraded in and took their places in bed.  All five of 'em.  Two at one end, and three at the other end.

Although it was before my time, I've heard of more than one fight, which resulted in Grandpa Shelton having to get up and get his razor strop to finally straighten the whole thing out and hopefully get some much needed sleep and rest.

One fight which happened quite often was a result of one of the boys, (Norman), not being able to smell.  Never could, still can't.  But, he could sure make the covers float after eating a big 'ol supper of beans!

And he was a fun lover, even if it meant getting into a fight with one of his younger siblings.  Of course, all the boys were afraid of bears, and I only remember one incident of ever hearing of a bear in that country (and that unconfirmed).  But still, they were easily frightened, and Norm would say in his scariest voice, "SHHHHH!  What was that?  I think I heard a big ol' bear!"

Smelly socks

And of course, the first thing the younger boys would do is cover up their heads.  There awaiting them was the smell of the nauseous gases resulting from the nights supper of beans which were literally floating the covers!  Screams of anguish, coughing, gagging, kicking, hitting, the sounds attatched to unsuccessful attempts of pushing him out of the bed with both legs straightened out against the offending culprits backside, all done under the protection of the cover from the bear, would split the peace of the night.

Of course, everybody that wasn't stupid enough to stick their heads under the cover thought it was the funniest thing they ever seen.  And, it was funny; every night!

One thing I clearly remember is waking up more than once with someone's dirty foot resting right on my face.  (I still suspect some of those times were not by accident . . .!)

Smelly socks

Remember, we didn't take a bath until Saturday nights.  But, we were forced to take 'em whether we needed them or not!  So, by Friday night, it was pretty ripe.  And, everybody I knew always slept in their socks.  Those socks never left their feet for a week!

But it was a way of life.  You make do with what you have, and a lot of times you make do even if you don't have.  One thing for certain:  I learned to never, ever, I mean EVER stick my head under the cover when someone hollers "BEAR!"

George Cavaness
10-09-1994



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