As you may have read in my 2nd Blog entitled Origins of Cathouse Antique Iron Beds, the first iron beds I ever had, came in to my possession from a couple of farmers up in Pennsylvania who thought they were actually taking advantage of me by telling me they’d give the iron beds to me if I’d simply haul them away. Well after this happen a few times, I had ended up with 5 iron beds in a one bedroom apartment in Georgetown, Washington DC.
I’d originally gotten the iron beds as a present for my girlfriend. After she picked which one she wanted, for her birthday, I was left with five iron beds. So I thought I’d try and place an ad in the Sunday Washington Post. Well by noon on Sunday they were all gone. I sold them for between $20. to $40., and thought I was making a killing. Well after the last person left my apartment with the last bed, I thought I may have stumbled upon something and I started thinking of replenishing my little stash of iron beds and selling a few more. So I started looking in the same section of the classifieds that my ad had been in. A few ads down from mine was one that said “Victorian Estate For Sale……Loads of Antiques” and then they listed everything. I noticed the seller said he had a dozen fancy iron beds. I called the number in the ad and a man answered. He said he was selling his house, which was supposedly a beautiful Victorian home and happened to be packed with antiques and iron beds. Only one catch…..his home was in a deep southern state. If you’re familiar with the east coast you’ll know that at semester break, most students go down to Fort Lauderdale Florida. The beaches get packed and the beer flows. It’s pretty much a weekend of debauchery and drinking. Semester break was coming up the following week and I was set to drive myself and five of my friends down to Ft. Lauderdale for the third year in a row. Some why I presented them with the option of going somewhere new and fun……it didn’t take much prodding.
So I made an appointment to meet the man with the beds . He described the house and gave me directions. When I drove up in front of the address he’d given me I couldn’t believe my eye’s. This was the most beautiful Victorian estate I’d ever seen. Why on earth would someone want to sell a place like this I thought. I knocked on the door and was greeted by a man that looked straight out of GQ. They could have put him on a James Bond poster and he’d have fit right in. He was extremely courteous with the voice of a late night “easy listening” DJ. He asked me into a large foyer filled with incredible antiques, Tiffany lamps and a big round velvet settee. He said he had a number of other antique dealers that were looking at things downstairs and excused himself to rejoin them. He said I was welcome to take a look at the iron beds we had discussed and that I should go upstairs and take a look. Which I did. The house was quite big and every bedroom upstairs seem to have a more beautiful bed than the one before it. They were by far the best collection of iron beds I’d seen. To this day, 30 years later, many of them would still be the best I would have seen. I found one that caught my eye, and even though I thought I was way out of my element, I thought I’d at least see what he was asking for it. “Son” he said, “You don’t seem to understand. I don’t want to sell just one bed…..I need to sell all of them…today“. I explained I was just a student and that the iron bed thing was just a whim I thought I might toy with while still going to school in DC. “Do you have $100. “? he said. Still thinking about the one bed and never having spent anything for the last five beds I sold, I hesitated…..wondering if I really wanted to spend that much money on one bed….even though it was an incredible bed. I reluctantly said “Yes….I have $100.” . “Can you get them all out today” he said. I guess the confusion on my face didn’t require any words so he continued…..”I need to have all of them out today”. He explained how he’d inherited the house from a great aunt, who happened to have been the leading “madam” in the state back in the late 1800’s …..hence the collection of great beds and a house with a dozen bedrooms. “I’ve sold the house and the new owner doesn’t want any of the furnishings”. It now became apparent my $100. had just bought me a dozen of the best iron beds I’d ever come across.
My friends and I quickly disassembled all the beds in record time, thinking that at any moment the owner was going to come to his senses and renege on his offer. We got them loaded on top of my van and off we went. We spent the weekend in a nearby city doing pretty much the same thing we’d done in Ft. Lauderdale the last three years. Just a different location with what seemed to be a crazier crowd of students.
One morning, about a week after returning home, I picked up my Washing Post Newspaper. You can imagine my surprise when I saw a picture of the man I’d bought the beds from, on the front page. As I read the article I came to find out he was a “senator” from the state I’d met him in, and that he had just won a second term election.
It now became apparent ………. he hadn’t wanted anyone to know about his connection to his great aunt. For fear it may have effected his re-election. So he divested himself of any ties to her as quickly as possible. To appreciate this, you have to realize this all happen before good old Bill Gates and internet and the spyglass all politicians live under. This is also why I haven’t mentioned his name or state that he represented.
He went on to have along and distinguished life in public office. To my knowledge his great aunts gift never was made public.
So when I finally decide to open a business of my own, what better name could I have chosen than…..“Cathouse Iron Beds” in honor of the man that helped me get started. As you might notice, from the enclosed photo…..it’s no mistake that the logo we designed for Cathouse Iron Beds, strongly resembles the original house those dozen iron beds came out of.