News items make connections

Published 11:59 pm Saturday, November 16, 2013

A lot of commercials we see on television today are about companies selling mattresses. But that is a lot different than how mattresses were fixed and sold in our Magic City. There was a family that had a shop on the west side of town that repaired or even made new mattresses. It was back before innersprings, water beds or air mattresses came along and our mattresses were padded with cotton.

An old van was on the property and the wheels had been removed and it was flat on the ground without any understructure. The owners had put an old mattress in the van and a more or less homeless man often slept there. He began to irritate some of the neighbors by peeping in their windows and the owners of the van asked him to stay away. He didn’t and the police were called. One policeman crawled up into the van and pulled him up and tried to make him leave. This fellow grabbed the policeman and put a big knife to his throat and told the others officers to leave. One of the officers leaned through the window and put a gun to this man’s head. The officer that had the knife up by his neck began to beg the other officer not to shoot, thinking the reaction might cause the knife to hurt him. After a while the guy told them that he would come out and go with them to jail. When they got to jail he decided they couldn’t put him in a cell and a struggle began. One of the officers said it took six men to get him in the cell and the prisoner was laughing. This officer said he had been hit in the throat and it was several days before he could talk but they were all glad it came out as well as it did.

The old van was removed and the family kept fixing or making mattresses for anyone that needed one. That was a long time ago before we had television and had to go to a bigger store to find a new mattress, but most folks made do.

A store on Austin Street had mattresses for sale along with many other things. The family lived upstairs in the building and did their work and sales on the bottom floor. This was a big white building about where a store and the cleaners are today. This later became the furniture store for Mr. Haik and furniture was displayed all over the ground floor and also in the rooms upstairs. It was a neat arrangement with each room set up just like a room in your home. It was a good way to show the furniture and with the service men returning from their time overseas there was a ready group of customers. A lot of the men that were returning were getting married and setting up a house and furniture for a new family. This worked for the sales. And if Mr. Haik thought the young men that were working seemed to have too much idle time all the rooms would be changed with the furniture brought down the stairs and newer things carried back upstairs to make new arrangements. With the deliveries and arranging of the furniture it provided jobs for several young men back in a time when people were not used to much money.

Back in those days Austin Street was an interesting place, especially in the block where the furniture store was. On the corner was a hotel building with many rooms upstairs, and one was rented by a group of men for a gambling place. It worked pretty good for one man. He won a house and one of the last new cars that was sold during the war.

Getting back to the mattresses: Several furniture stores sold new mattresses along with other things for the new homemakers. We all enjoyed these times as part of our growing up, and the jobs we could find was a blessing.

We don’t have to have mattresses worked over and new padding installed now, but it was good then. As we remember those old days, let’s all remember what a great place to live in Bogalusa is and thank the Good Lord every day.

May He bless you all today.