1950 Memories of Suburban Adventures

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Dueling Beds

The face of an almost innocent person.

The face of an almost innocent person.

Why must the innocent always suffer? Especially when I’m the one that’s almost completely innocent. And why is the degree of innocence so different in the eyes of my beholders?

Two bedrooms in our basement-house were semi-finished. Susan’s crib took up residence in Mom and Dad’s bedroom, at the end of the hallway. David and I were deposited in the other.

We weren’t used to sharing a room, so we talked loudly until Mom and Dad yelled, “For the last time, pipe down in there and go to sleep.”

We whispered until Dad’s belt came snapping down the hallway. It was only a matter of time before the belt did more than snap.

A double bed, bought from the Newcombs, became David’s new sleeping spot. I don’t know what happened to my bed from Dean Road, but a double mattress perched on top of empty paint cans became mine. We soon found out cement blocks should have been used instead of unsubstantial paint cans.

David mastered the art of making harmonica noises by cupping his hands and making a mournful waaaa sound. Not your standard lullaby music, but it worked for me.

“Play Home on the Range again,” I said.

“No, I’ve already done it three times.”

“Please, just once more,” I begged. “You do it sooo good.”

Who said flattery won’t get you anywhere? Flattery got me night-time music. I drifted off to sleep dreaming of deer and antelope.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uenvW3DrMI There were only two of us, but we seemed like five.

There were only two of us, but we seemed like five.

Another favorite bedtime occupation was practicing somersaults. We piled our pillows up on the outside edge of my makeshift bed. From David’s bed, we dove across a two foot aisle and over our pillow wall. The objective was to dive over the highest pillow without touching or knocking any over.

We each conquered the four pillow hurdle, so we snuck in some throw pillows from the sofa.

I jumped first and sailed over our new challenge. I landed gracefully on my bed, with carefully tucked in legs so I didn’t kick the wall and alert Mom and Dad to our non-sleeping status.

David gave a couple preparatory jumps on his bed to gain height. He cleared the pillows, but his landing needed work. His middle name was NOT Grace (like mine should have been).

An untucked leg made his foot crash through the sheetrock wall by my bed. The destruction didn’t end there. The force of his landing crushed a paint can, slamming one corner of my mattress to the floor.

Not only did he lose the competition, David dragged me into trouble with him.

In case Mom and Dad didn’t hear the thud of David’s foot going through the wall, they couldn’t miss the sound of my paint can being smushed into a pie plate or the wallop of my collapsed mattress.

The hallway light snapped on and Mom and Dad rushed in to find us sleeping. My teeny snore sounds sounded very convincing, to me.

Our bedroom light was off, but they managed to notice my bed lying on a steep slant. They turned our light on and continued noticing things, like all our pillows piled up against the wall by my bed.

David and I didn’t move a muscle. Being overly suspicious parents, they didn’t believe we were asleep.

Dad reached over and moved the pillows aside.

“David did it,” I yelled.

“Jump’n jeezum all to heck!” bellowed Dad.

With the pillows gone, David’s hole in the wall was revealed.

In case Dad didn’t get the message, I repeated, “David did it!”

For the first time in Norton history, the dreaded belt didn’t just snap. We screamed and cried as Dad’s fearsome belt gave us each a whack. I can only imagine the pain if we hadn’t been protected by a sheet, blanket, and quilt.

Lessons learned: Always jump from the flimsy paint-can bed onto the sturdier bed, not the other way around. And keep your feet tucked in during the landing.

Now it’s your turn: What’s your hole-in-the-wall or bed jumping story?

© Mary Norton-Miller and 1950s Suburban Adventures, 2012 forward. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mary Norton-Miller and 1950s Suburban Adventures with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


  1. This reminds me of the time me and my brother thought it would be cool to paint our bedroom walls … My mother was horrified to see us and the bedroom walls smeared with water colours and magic markers. Luckily we managed to wash it off.
    I loved this post…It made me laugh!

  2. suzjones says:

    Awesome. I had a brother called David and used the line “David did it” on more than one occasion.

  3. CJ says:

    My sister and I are just 13 months apart…so we had a tendency to fight like crazy when we weren’t trying to get along. One day, my hot-tempered sister kicked a hole in the bottom of my bedroom door when I wouldn’t admit her. I hid that hole artfully with a wastebasket for a month or two, maybe even longer…during that time I must have thought one good kick deserved another, so I returned to favor to her door. Eventually my dad found out. Oh my God! We were so beyond busted. Worse, we were made to work on PROPERLY patching and planing and sanding and painting the damned things on our Saturdays…no skating, or movies, we were grounded forever, it seemed! But hey, I learned two things…#1—NOT EVER to harm a structure like that in anger, again…and #2— how to properly—no, PERFECTLY fix a door….and maybe a 3rd lesson…getting even with my sister in a more subtle way…such a stealing her nice sweaters or toys when she wasn’t around.
    Thanks (?) for another trip through the cobwebs in my memories!

    • skinnyuz2b says:

      CJ, I must admit I would have used blackmail while hiding the hole my sibling made. You know, get me a drink, make my bed, give me your candy, etc.
      At least your punishment taught you more than ‘don’t kick holes in doors’. You can always have a second career as a handywoman.

  4. Sunni Morris says:

    What a funny story. When it came to placing blame on a sibling for things that went awry, we had an advantage because there were seven of us. Mama and Daddy never were quite sure who did it, so usually all of us got punished. Five of us girls shared a room and for a time we slept in the same bed – packed in there like sardines – so of course we laughed and talked quite a while every night before we went to sleep. It usually took several times with Daddy yelling at us to get quiet. Even then, we’d pull the covers over our heads and talk and giggle.

    We had our squabbles too as to where we would sleep on this double bed. One of my sisters had to bang her foot on the mattress to get to sleep and another had to grind her teeth. There was also a lot of turmoil in that bed. We finallly got some cots to sleep on later.


    • skinnyuz2b says:

      Sunni, you really did have five little monkeys in a bed. It sounds like so much fun. My husband came from a family of seven, too. It’s too bad my brother wasn’t there to serenade all of you to sleep.

  5. Glynis Jolly says:

    Still another reason why I feel lucky. I never had to share a bed with my little brother except when we were traveling to and from our vacation spot, a cousin’s ranch.

  6. C. Suresh says:

    Hahaha! Loved the moral of the story as much as the narration 🙂

  7. spunkybong says:

    A snapping belt! Ah, those were the days when one could beat his kids with abandon. If the police came by our house, they’d only egg my Dad on,’one more, sir, on the left buttock, now twist his ears.’

    And now? The fun of parenthood is gone. You cannot touch your brats. Not that you were a brat, Skinny. 😀

    • skinnyuz2b says:

      Spunky, according to my sweetie we were ‘spoiled little Nortons’. This was the only time I recall the belt doing more than snap. But I have to confess that you are probably in a minority of one who thinks I was not a brat.

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