LARRY PENKAVA COLUMN: Looking at beds from my lofty perch

Published 9:20 am Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

I’ve always been an upper berth kinda guy.

Larry Penkava

To be clear, I said upper berth, not upper crust. The only crust I’m known for is at the end of a loaf of bread. I hate it when folks toss the crust.

When it comes to berths, I tend to gravitate upwardly. Whenever I’ve been faced with a bunk bed, I wind up on top.

Now, the first bed I have vague memories of is a crib, with raised rails to keep me in. I must have been 2 or 3 when I awoke from a nap one afternoon, climbed over the rail and dropped to the floor.

When I didn’t find anyone in the house, I came up with a plan. I went out the front door, walked down the gravel driveway and started up the road.

Fortunately, Miz Pugh, the widow lady across the road, spotted me and came to my rescue.

“Where are you going?” she asked. “To Asheboro,” was my response. I had just six miles to go.

Miz Pugh exemplified the old saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.”

A few years later my parents brought home a sturdy old wooden bunk bed. It may have been army surplus.

I would climb up the frame and roll onto the mattress while my younger brother, Francis, slept below. There was no rail across the side.

One night I was awakened by a loud bump. I looked around and found myself on the floor, my parents scanning me for broken bones or bloody wounds. A day or two later, Daddy brought home a wooden rail that stretched neatly cross the side to keep me from waking them up at night.

I slept in the upper bunk for eight or 10 years, until my oldest brother, Dave, left for computer school. His twin bed at the window in the room next door was taken over by Ron and I moved into Ron’s bed beside it.

That single bed remained mine when we moved to the brick house that my parents built. Except it was Francis rooming with me while Ron moved up to his own private room.

The summer after I finished high school, I went with Robert across the road and some other folks to a Baptist retreat in Myrtle Mississippi called Camp Love. They had a large dorm for the guys and another for the gals.

Robert and I carried our bags into our quarters and found row after row of bunk beds. We selected one and I automatically claimed the upper.

I decided to try it out, drowsy from riding all night to the Magnolia State. Expecting to curl up on cool sheets, I soon realized that summer in Mississippi leaves sheets as warm as, well, the Deep South.

I think I must have arisen every morning dripping with sweat.

It was just a few weeks later that I arrived for my freshman year at college. Checking into my dorm room, I found one single bed on one side and a set of bunks on the other. Seems the university had more new students that they had double dorm rooms.

One roommate, Richard, had already claimed the single and left for more important matters. The other, Dewey, came while I was still considering arrangements. Dewey asked me which bed I wanted and the answer was self-evident. I would gladly take the upper.

Richard, the aristocrat, and Dewey, blue-collar working class, mixed like oil and water. I was more like white-collar working class so that put me in the middle.

When they would argue about some soul-defining topic, such as whether or not to play WKIX on Dewey’s radio, they would put me in the position as mediator. “What do you think, Larry?” To which I would say, “It doesn’t matter,” and roll over toward the wall like a turtle withdrawing into its shell.

There were occasions when guys across the hall would come in for bull sessions. I felt I was in the perfect spot, with an eagle’s view of the proceedings while being unobtrusive.

By the end of that first semester both Richard and Dewey had moved out, resulting in the bunk bed being replaced by a single. So I was back on floor level.

The good news? Hank moved in, the shining example of a good roommate.

With Hank, I could endure not having an upper berth.

Larry Penkava is a writer for Randolph Hub. Contact: 336-302-2189,