I was changing the sheets on my bed this morning when I remembered another of our regular chores from when I was a kid — the semi-annual “airing of the mattresses.”
This ritual took place in early Spring and late Fall. Why then, I don’t know, but I guess it had something to do with the fact that we just couldn’t do it during snowy Winter months!
Anyway, we kids got roped into helping because Dad was away at work and Mom couldn’t complete it by herself.
“It” consisted of hauling all the mattresses off their box springs, dragging them downstairs, squeezing them out the door, and draping them across lawn furniture on the patio so they could “soak up some sun.”
But my mom had it in her head that mattresses needed to be aired out on a regular basis, that the warm sun and fresh air would help us all sleep better.
Did it work? Maybe, maybe not.
It was back-breaking, even for kids.
You had to grab hold of the handles manufacturers used to attach to the sides of mattresses and wrestle them off the bed — not an easy chore unless you’re a linebacker.
Then you had to drag that mattress down a flight of stairs. More often than not, I wound up as the “front person” since I was the oldest kid; that meant I had to guide the mattress down to safety while somebody at the top of the stairs merely had to give it a push.
When it fell into the wall, both of us stopped midway and dissolved into fits of laughter before Mom came to chide us and put the task back on track!
Once downstairs, we dragged the mattress across the floor, opened the door onto the patio, and shoved it outside. There, Mom had prepared some lawn chairs or recliners, and we hoisted the mattress on top of them so it could “sunbathe.”
After a few hours, we reversed the process, placed clean sheets on the mattress and waited to jump in bed.
Mattresses don’t come with handles any more. In fact, mattresses today don’t have two sides. I learned this when I helped Mom look for a new mattress several months ago.
Regardless of the brand, we were told, mattresses now come with only one side for sleeping. The other side is covered by a gauze-like material that “hides” the innards of the mattress.
This means that no longer can you flip a mattress over, top to bottom and side to side, the way we used to. All you can do is “spin” it if you want to make sure it wears evenly.
I’m pretty sure this has something to do with planned obsolescence. Mattress manufacturers probably figured out that folks were hanging on to their mattresses longer than they wanted them to, and they decided that would never do.
Maybe that’s for the best. Now that I’m an adult, hauling mattresses downstairs and outside falls way down there on my list of fun things to do!