Sleeping In Bedrooms The Temperature of Meat Lockers

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The Morrissey Family of Fitchburg where all girls lived on the third floor.

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By Susan Dromey Heeter, Joyful Musings

My Belgian friend, Andre, used to laugh with me and remark, “the bed is the best invention ever made.”  And I agree. There is nothing like a good bed, a great sleep, a cozy snooze, warm blankets and pillows. And this got me thinking about the beds I slept on, the mattresses of my youth, the stories of friends with large families and their sleeping arrangements.

Bedrooms for large families tended to be more dorm room than show places with canopy beds and sheets from Pottery Barn. My friend, Anne, had a house with one bathroom – a bathroom that was “conveniently accessed by walking through a bedroom occupied by three brothers.”  Anne’s own sleeping arrangements were to sleep on a top bunk in a room she shared with her younger sister and accessed by walking through her parents’ bedroom.

Susan Dromey Heeter

This bedroom, Anne describes, “would not qualify as a bedroom today but be viewed as a storage place at best.”  Her room did have a window and a register in the floor for the heat to rise as the upstairs was not heated.  And did I mention Anne’s home was in balmy Maine?

My friend, Ginny, shared not only a bedroom with her sisters but a bed.  And her bedroom arrangements did not include walking through her parents’ bedroom to use bathrooms, but sharing one bathroom with her sisters in their third-floor apartment.  Her family owned a triple decker in Fitchburg.

Her parents lived on the first floor with the very young children; her grandparents lived on the second with Ginny’s two brothers, and Ginny and her sisters all lived on the third floor. Daughters graduated to the third floor from the first night after getting their period. Once they menstruated, they moved up two flights.

Living with teenage girls myself, I think often of Ginny’s mother and am entirely in awe at her brilliance. All teenage girls on one floor, living together – such a concept, such an amazing concept.

Dinners were eaten together on the first floor, Ginny’s mother still did laundry, but day to day life, homework, life skills and sex ed were entirely relegated to the third floor. All girls, all hormones, all drama together. Cigarettes, late night talks, fights…all on the third floor…


The bed is still the best invention, there is nothing like laying one’s head on a pillow, feeling safe and tired and enveloped in sheets and blankets.  And I as I muse joyfully on bedrooms I think how, much to the chagrin of my husband, I open the window to create the temperature of a meat locker.  Like, Anne, my room growing up was so cold we could write our initials in the frost on the windows – on the inside.  But we were cozy and slept soundly. No Pottery Barn décor, no high-end accoutrements, mattresses from God only knows where.

But as I muse joyfully, may you enjoy your own sleep, staying safe and warm in your own bed – be it on the third floor, the first or with the windows open and frost on the windows.

Susan Dromey Heeter, a writer from Dover who recently let her hair go au natural white, writes “Joyful Musings” for Dromey Heeter is a secondary Spanish Teacher at Dover High School and the mother of two teenage daughters.  Writing has been her passion since her English majoring days at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.  Dromey Heeter has lived in The Netherlands, Alaska and currently basks in all things New England, including the frigid winters. An avid swimmer, Dromey Heeter’s great passion is to bring back body surfing as most children have no idea how to ride waves without ridiculous boogie boards. She also writes about thrift shopping and all things frugal  in a column called “Budget Vogue” for the New Hampshire Union Leader.

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