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Official Article

Bunk Beds

Recently my son graduated from the slatted bars of his baby crib, to the wonders of a “Big Boy Bed”. During the experience of selecting and assembling his new sleeping quarters, I began reflecting on my childhood fascination with bunk beds. Whether seen as merely functional or in my case, “Fun-tional” everyone has had a run-in with these stacked modern marvels of the sleeping world. You may have even shared one with a snoring sibling or with a summer camp bunkmate who talked in their sleep, but allow me to tell you about my personal history with bunk beds during the 80s and 90s.

Having been born into a family where my siblings were already in high school at the time of my birth, there was seemingly no cause for any type of space-saving sleep device, whether bunk bed or the awesome comedic staple of the fold-down Murphy bed. By the time I was old enough to get my own bed my brother was already a college man, so I just inherited his room and twin sized mattress.  With no younger siblings on the way, it looked like I was destined to stay at ground level, but that didn’t mean I was completely unaware of the concept.

My friend, Erik was the most spoiled kid I knew, and in truth, I was probably better friends with his massive action figure collection than the boy himself. In addition to having every Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle or G.I. Joe a kid could want, he also had the world’s biggest bunk bed. You know how some kids get a race car bed and that sounds awesome? Erik had a full on double decker firetruck!

Literally, it was in the shape of a firetruck with wheels and a hood, the whole nine yards. The bottom bunk was like a slumber time fortress made of brightly painted wood, while the top bunk seemed as if it was almost touching the ceiling. The coolest part was that inside the hood was a toy chest you could access by opening the up the grill on the front or an opening at the foot of the bottom bunk. Erik filled his hood with dozens of stuffed animals including awesome icons like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, Football My Pet Monster and even the wacky space alien crew from Michael Jackson’s Disneyland 3-D experience, Captain EO.

I think it bears mentioning that Erik was an only child, so to say the bunk bed was unnecessary is pretty accurate. To help his parent’s feel justified in their purchase, I often invited myself over for sleepovers on weekends to fill the vacant top bunk. It was during these evenings of luxury that I set my heart on someday getting a bunk bed of my own. It took a few years, but the dream did eventually come true.

As my 12th birthday was approaching and seeing it as a bit of a milestone in my journey to manhood, I told my Mom that a bunk bed was just what the doctor ordered. Of course she felt it was kind of silly since I didn’t have anyone to share it with. I countered with my weekly plans to invite many friends over for sleepover fun, so that she would feel justified in such an expenditure. Never mind the fact that my friends rarely came by to hang out because we had no caffeinated soda, violent video games or R-Rated movies at my house to the tantalize the senses. But my dear, sweet mother relented and on my birthday just a month later, there was a glorious bunk bed sitting in my room.

I loved the blue painted metal that connected to form a private bunker for my nighttime activities, most of which involved sticking the pages of comic books into the frame of the top bunk for hands-free reading. Speaking of the top bunk, I slept in it once. I remember climbing to the top after it was first assembled and quickly realizing it was a long way down. I was a heftier kid at the time, so there was always the thought of my weight breaking through the flimsy metal under the mattress and sending me plummeting to the bunk below. This would have been more a source of embarrassment than actual physical injury. No fat kid wants that story getting around the schoolyard.

Really the greatest part of owning a bunk bed was the personal satisfaction of being like the kids on TV shows with their awesome bedrooms. It wasn’t that they all had bunk beds, but that the room was uniquely their own. Jamie Lawson from Small Wonder wasn’t sleeping on a second hand twin bed and neither were the Tanner girls from Full House. They all had awesome bed set-ups just for them, and now so did I. But as with most fads of childhood, it didn’t last long.

As I got ready to enter Junior High, I realized that the bunk bed was taking up valuable wall space where I could be putting up super hero posters and shelves full of collectibles. So by the time I turned 13 this prized item was disassembled and I asked for my old twin mattress back. Of course that year for my birthday I requested a gigantic drafting table to help accomplish my dream of becoming a self-publishing comic book artist. You wanna guess how long that lasted? Yeah, we had a garage full of over-sized furniture demanded by yours truly. Still, I always look back fondly on the bunk bed experience, as short as it was.

So tell me about your favorite bed from childhood. Was it a bunk bed? Racecar bed? Bart Simpson’s creepy clown bed? 

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DirtyD79 Posted on Apr 30, 2016 at 11:27 AM

@Hoju Koolander My father's an auto body technician so I probably got the idea from watching him working on cars. I also remember we had this plastic set of toy tools and me and my bro liked to use the saw on this one old wooden table because it made some neat sounds like "oi oo oi oo" Maybe it's not so much I was RPing as my own dad as much as me and my bro were some really destructive little brats as kids lol.

Hoju Koolander Posted on Feb 10, 2016 at 10:12 PM

@DirtyD79 That car mechanic role play sounds awesome, I never would have come up with that as a kid.

massreality Posted on Feb 03, 2016 at 04:18 PM

My brother and I had a bunk bed that was pretty cool. It was wooden, and didn't have that colorful look like the images of the ones above, but you could actually unstack the beds into single twin beds. So, when we got older, my dad was able to provide us each with our own beds for our rooms.

Still, I would have traded in my bunk beds for a race car bed any day of the week. I wanted one of them so bad.

DirtyD79 Posted on Jan 22, 2016 at 12:08 AM

Me and my bro had bunkbeds too. Our mom got them because they reminded her of the Berenstein Bears or something like that. We also had a folding ladder which we just about never used. One of the things I'd do with the bunk bed is pretend I'm working on a car that's up on the lift at a shop. I probably drove my parents nuts by tapping on it with a little wooden hammer. When me and my bro outgrew them we ended up giving them to a couple of our younger cousins.

pikachulover Posted on Jan 19, 2016 at 05:45 PM

I never had a bunk bed as a kid. Although I did want one for a while until my mom said it was not very practical for me to have one. That and my fear of earthquakes combined led to me not having a bunk bed.

My friend in high school lofted his bed. He was strange he moved around the furniture in his room at least once a month and his room was not that large. He told me to loft my bed too. The problem with his bed was that was not constructed it very well. He just added beams to a regular bed. It looked like it was going to topple over if you sneezed by the thing. If I remember correctly he wanted his computer under his lofted bed.

I had a few relatives with bunk beds. But they usually slept on the bottom and put their toys on the top bunk.

Vaporman87 Posted on Jan 19, 2016 at 10:42 AM

Man, who DIDN'T want some sweet, themed bunk bed set up. I would have loved to have had a set up bunk beds like what is available today. So many varieties, and with some really cool features.

Like you, it would have been pretty pointless for me to have bunk beds. It was just me and my sister for one part of my childhood (and we had separate rooms), and me and my brother for the rest (but we just had a queen bed in the basement). By the time I was living with my dad, I was not really interested in having a bunk bed.

We did have a set of bunk beds for the boys for a few years here. But we did away with them recently (the top bunk never got used).

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