Growing up in a household of eleven people is a real challenge during certain parts of the day. Mealtime was always interesting, but you already know that if you read the first epic adventure about our family (read me). Our sleeping arrangements were interesting as well as the house we lived in had originally been built as only a two bedroom, two story. Maybe it could be considered a three bedroom as there was also a tiny third bedroom upstairs at the rear and it could sleep one comfortably – we stretched it into sleeping two small ones of course. In fact, when we first moved into that house, that small bedroom was my room. It appears that it had once been used to sleep a visitor or extended family member too because it had a kitchen sink and cabinets built into it (leading to its smaller size originally).
As a family of eleven, the aforementioned tiny bedroom belonged to the two youngest girls, Lori and Janelle. The middle bedroom was the largest sized and slept the remaining three girls, Bobbi, JoAnn and Toni. That left us four boys for the forward bedroom facing the street. Given we had 9 kids, an uneven number, this is the only arrangement that would work – the sex with 5 had to use the tiny bedroom and couldn’t be split up by the middle bedroom. We boys each had our own single bed. There was a set of bunk beds for Mike and Felix. Steve and I shared a set of trundle-beds.
A trundle-bed was one where a smaller bed on wheels fit underneath a higher bed. It would be rolled out at night for sleeping and then rolled underneath the high bed to give more free space in the room during the day. We all liked those bunk beds, however I seem to recall one or two episodes of being jarred awake from a dead sleep by the sound of Mike or Felix falling off the top bunk, under the safety rail and down the ladder, with a dead thud onto our wood floor (ouch).
Always being the prankster, I had a couple of ‘go to’ bedtime pranks that always made me and my brothers laugh. One easy one had to do with our sisters. When it was time to go to sleep, we boys liked to get right to it – close our eyes and sleep. The girls, however, they were chatterers! Our walls were thin and it used to drive us nuts if the girls next door kept us awake with the laughter and loud voices. Killing this was easy as all I had to do was to get out of bed, go to the closet, get a baseball bat and pound it a few times on the floor. Mom and Joe’s bedroom, (originally a living room), was directly below ours and when Joe heard the thudding, he would come up the steps. We boys would of course all be “sound asleep”. Joe would hear only the girls so he’d open the door to tell them to “KNOCK IT OFF!” That would always do the trick for us. After Joe got downstairs, we boys would all have a good chuckle and then be allowed to sleep.
My favorite nighttime prank was a little mean and did not work all the time, but when it did…boy was it funny. In the upstairs hallway, we had an old school desk that got used occasionally for homework. It was the heavy wood, lift the lid, listen for the 3 clicks adjustable school desk. Ring a bell, reader? If one of my brothers came to bed late, sometimes I would get prodded by my other brothers – ‘Rob, do it – get the desk’.
I would stand on the bottom trundle bed so that I could reach and unscrew the ceiling lightbulb far enough that it would not come on when the switch was thrown. Next, I would go get the heavy school desk and bring it into the room. The room was relatively small and we each knew the layout without lighting. I would place the desk several feet into the room, directly in the walking path of the victim. On the times that it worked, the ‘victim’ would stumble hard over the desk, which had been turned on its side in order to make it below finger-level (just in case the victim was trying to feel his way around). Mike was the funnest – “God dang it..Mom! Joe!” We boys would be cracking up; snickering to ourselves before the deed and then louder as the victim was lying in agony.
Yes, this prank would earn the wrath of Joe’s coming up and yelling at us….but it was worth it. After Joe left, we’d be laughing still for ten minutes until falling to sleep. There were no iPads or video games to keep us occupied. We had to use our minds and a few makeshift props. Yes…it was worth it….it was indeed worth it.