In the mid 70’s I was living in Georgetown, a section of Washington DC . Occasionally on the weekends , I would drive North up into central Pennsylvania to visit my grandparents. On one of those weekend trips I took my girlfriend with me to meet the family. The drive to my grandparents took us through quite a bit of rural farm land. On this particular visit we happened to pass by a beautiful old barn that had an old iron bed that was leaning up against it. My girlfriend said that she had a birthday coming up and if I was trying to decide what to get her, she suggested an old antique iron bed would be very good idea. So the next trip I took to my grandparents, I stopped by the same farm house and asked if the owners might be interested in parting with the old bed that was leaning against the barn. The farmer looked at me like I had a third eye in the middle of my head……..”son, if you want that old thing, be my guest…….take it away”. Being a student at the time and always short on money, I was exceptionally pleased that I had found exactly what my girlfriend had wanted for her birthday……..and it hadn’t cost me anything.
I brought the bed down to my apartment in Georgetown and took it to a friend of mine that worked at a car painting shop. He sandblasted it for me and sprayed it white. On my girlfriends birthday I proudly presented it to her with less of a reaction I had been hoping for. I asked if it wasn’t what she had wanted. It seems she did want a bed, but that she wanted a much fancier scrolled Victorian iron bed, more feminine ……. less Austere and plain.
So the next visit I took to the grandparents I stopped by the same farmhouse and asked the farmer if he happen to know of any other beds in the area I might be able to find that were a bit fancier. He mentioned a neighbor of his that happen to have a couple. He said he’d actually talked to him about the bed I had gotten and his neighbor had said if I ever stopped by again to please tell me he had a few he’d also like “carted away”. Back then, next to nobody had much of an appreciation for antique iron beds. I stopped by the neighbors house and ended up getting three more beds, all much nicer than the first one I’d given my girlfriend. Once again…….I spent nothing on them.
Well this time my girlfriend finally found one she really liked. I had my friend refinish it, like we had the first one, and my girlfriend couldn’t have been happier.
So now I have the three old beds, I had given to me by the farmers, leaning against the wall in my one bedroom apartment . None of my other friends needed or wanted one, so I put an ad in the Washington Post Newspaper. Hoping to sell them and get them out of my cramped apartment. The ad came out on a Sunday and by noon I had sold all three of the beds. I sold them for $25. a piece and thought I was making a killing, because they hadn’t cost me anything.