When you live in the barracks, you’re kind of stuck with what you have. I’ve heard the military has tried to improve things, but there is a tendency to think of soldiers as children.
The beds, for example.
We were assigned beds that were originally in life bunk beds. We’d probably be still using them as bunk beds but there was a urban legend that an accident had caused Fort Lewis to outlaw them. According to the legend, over a four day weekend, a top bunk had crashed down on the bottom one, killing both the soldiers. No one found out until Tuesday morning.
But the bed was a twin bed, for an adult. In hind sight, that’s a tough fit for any adult. It’s more of something you give to kids. I’d always wake up and find an arm or a leg hanging off the bed, or smashed up against the wall, probably because of the sense there wasn’t really enough room.
I can’t imagine how some of the guys managed! We had some really big guys.
What about the sheets?
The bed clothes were furnished by the army — two cheap, thin, flat sheets; two wool blankets; and a pillow.
Once a week, we stripped the bed to air out the mattress. Someone came around and picked up the sheets and replaced them with a pile of fresh ones. Sometimes they would be clean but stained.
We did have to use what the military issued us. However, we could add to it, so some of the women would add bedspreads. I got one of those mink blankets from a local flea market. It wasn’t real mink, but soft and thick. You’ve probably seen them hanging in stores and roadside stands. They usually have big pictures of animals on them like a buck. Mine was light purple, with a tiger.
I usually slept on top of the military blankets so I wouldn’t mess up the bed, and under the mink blanket. It was hard getting it made to where people were happy.
Is it true the bed had to be tight enough to bounce a quarter off of?
During an inspection, yes, but I never passed that. I simply couldn’t get it that tight. I’m not sure if it was just me, or if there was a point where I felt like it wasn’t worth the effort. Probably a little of both!