Bunk bed: (n) a piece of furniture consisting of two beds, one above the other, that form a unit.

Ralph had a good job and therefore had some money.

This was rare in our hometown area, where the local gospel singers who aspired to be superstars in the cavalcade of heavenly tunes were normallypoor, with dreams the only stuffing in their heads.

I was one of those poor ones.

But Ralph had some money. So his quartet went out and bought a bus, and Ralphie Boy signed for it. It was a 4104 Greyhound, which I’m sure will mean nothing to you unless you can conjure the image of the transportation of that era. If you can muster a picture of a Greyhound, it more than likely is a 4104.

Did I mention that Ralph was also a carpenter? So he ripped the seats out and built the insides to look like a little home, complete with four bunk beds for traveling nights, which might require some sleeping.

Everybody who had a pitch pipe and desired to sing four-part harmony bounced between admiring Ralph and his bus and being envious that they were not in his quartet.

But he was generous and let people come along on little trips so they could say they had been in the magic chariot.

I went on one such trip. It was an “overnighter,” so I got to sleep in the bunk.

It was at that precise moment in that particular location, with my chubby frame wedged into a tiny bunk, that I realized I was claustrophobic. What started out as a night of dreams and new opportunities left me terrorized that the bunk just above me was going to suddenly give way, come crashing down and suffocate me, probably to death.

When we finished the trip, Ralph asked me how I enjoyed it, and being a polite Midwestern boy, I said it was absolutely amazing–but that I was a little scared of the bunk beds.

Ralph thought that was hilarious–so funny that he decided to share it with everybody he ever came in contact with.

So from that point on, no matter what the activity, people would walk up, pat me on the shoulder and say, “By the way, you can relax. There won’t be any bunks.”

Published by Jonathan Cring