Outdoors

The Mattress

There are very few things in life that are designed perfectly for the task needed

I have folding conference table in my office and under that table is a mattress designed for backpacking and sleeping on a bed of rocks. It’s only about two feet away from my desk. My “office bed” is so comfortable that I seem to fall asleep within two minutes of when I lay down.

There are very few things in life that are designed perfectly for the task needed. Those tables surely are. I used to have one in my business office in Hermosa Beach. I spent a lot of late nights standing beside that table stuffing advertising in small envelopes to solicit more business for my ever-growing rental films. One ski season we shipped films to a total of 11,347 ski clubs.

That was called secondary marketing. I only had time to visit 100 different cities and narrate the feature film in person. After the first year it was shown I added my voice and music to the film and simply shipped it to the clubs for their fundraising activities the next year.

A dozen years after I started the company I hired a secretary. She was an excellent bookkeeper and was wondering why I never kept books. Juanita McVey became such a valuable employee as she cleaned up my record keeping and managed the company and worked with me for over 15 years.

Not too long after she came to work for me she bought a piece of carpet that matched the one in my office and laid it over the mattress so that when I had a client sitting in my office, they didn’t wonder about where I slept at night.

I know as a Boy Scout using a thin mattress, no matter how careful I was, as soon as I stretched out on it in my sleeping bag I always discovered one or more rocks on what I thought was a perfectly smooth pile of soft dirt.

When I was 16 years old and started driving my sisters Buick convertible phaeton to San Onofre for the weekend, there is no place inside the car to sleep so I spent $25 for a trailer. It was built on a 1929 Model T Ford chassis and it could carry as many as six 100-pound surfboards.

I designed it with a mattress on the floor of it and a kitchen with cooking gear hanging over the wheels. I’ve had mattresses in cars, trailers, motor-homes and occasionally on just a pile of dirt beside the road.

The worst mattress I ever had to spend the second night on was when I was dumped into the Navy and had to sleep on the top level of a metal bunk with coil springs on each end.

Anyone who has ever spent very much time in a motel knows that you never sleep on the side of a double bed where the telephone is. That’s because 95 percent of the people that climb into that double bed are single people and always sleep next to the telephone. That side of the bed always sags at least a half-inch or more than the opposite side.

For the first six or eight years of my life our family moved quite often. I went to six different grammar schools in six years and we always lived in a small house. My parents slept in one bedroom, my sister slept in the other bedroom, and I had my very own mattress in the corner of a hallway or a large clothes closet. When you don’t know the difference there isn’t any.

When my three kids were little each one of them had their own mattress for sleeping on the beach, one for the back of the car, and one for sleeping on the floor of motels. I think that we were all very fortunate that they got to spend a lot of time on each one of them as they grew into adults experiencing trips all over the country and Europe.