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Sleep Tight don’t let the bed bugs bite

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Sleep Tight

Sleep Tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite!

Living distance between family and friends generally required extended stays with mountain host families. Wise Solomon said, “Withdraw thy foot from they neighbor’s house: lest he be weary of thee…” and simply means a’body can ware out a welcome. Mama usually followed those words with her own, “I like comers and goers, but darn comers and stayers. Havin’ company will wear ye out worse than working.” A common jest was, “Just come on , we’ll hang you up on a nail.”

Bedding was limited and simple. Guests got the best bed in the house.

Our ancestors made bedding out of rye straw. Some raised ducks and picked the feathers to fill pillows and ticks. A tick is just like a mattress only you filled it with natural stuffing.

Sleep Tight

Once the ticks were completed they were laid on a rope bed that is similar to today’s hammocks. Ticks were changed often. Naturally, the best of housekeepers couldn’t see tiny bugs gathered along with natural stuffing.

Mountain people are very accommodating and strive to get along with the devil himself. They went a long stretch to avoid offending anyone, but when the time for embracing was over hints were given that it was time for company to leave.

What does Sleep Tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite mean?

“Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite”, is a term that some believe originated in Appalachia. It actually refers to the rope strapping under the bed frame that was tightened with a wooden T-handle to remove the sag. Can lids filled with oil were placed under each bed post to discourage ”bed bugs”

The first hint used by early Appalachians for guests to vacant, was to loosen the bed ropes allowing the tick to slip closer to the floor. If that didn’t work, they would serve a cold shoulder of meat. We get the term “a cold shoulder” from that practice. I suppose if that didn’t work, they’d burn the house down rather than plainly tell someone to get out.

Sleep Tight

Bottom view of a Rope Bed.

Wise elder, Carl Rogers offered valuable advice gained from a long life of experiences. He said, “Don’t be stingy with two things; a good bed and a good pair of shoes. You’ll spend your life in one or the other.”

Bottom view of a Rope Bed photo by: ”Lee Wright on Flickr”

This article on Sleep Tight is another terrific piece written by the author of ”It’s Not My Mountain Anymore”, Barbara Woodall.

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