With a down comforter, it’s all or nothing

With a down comforter, it's all or nothing by Bob Karolevitz When we heard that somebody�s electric blanket caught fire, we hurriedly discarded our plugged-in covers and Phyllis went out and bought feather ticks for our twin beds.

She called them down comforters, and she paid extra for the difference.

When she brought them home, I couldn�t resist telling the old vaudeville joke:

�How do you get down from an elephant?�

�You don�t. You get down from a duck.�

She didn�t even smile at my attempt at humor. Neither did I when I got the bill.

The difference between a down comforter and a feather tick is what�s inside.

Down, according to my dictionary, is that fluffy stuff which comes from the breasts of water fowl. We all know what feathers are. You can get them from chickens, geese and all sorts of birds.

Down is expensive because it takes a lot to make a warm comforter. You�ve got to kill a lot of ducks to get enough.

Back in the old days they weren�t so particular about what they used to keep that heat in. I think our grandparents saved everything they plucked from a gander or a hen. Sometimes they made featherbeds, which was sort of a mattress you could sink down in on a chilly winter�s night. They also made feather ticks.

Phyllis and I both remember the feather ticks of our youth. They were great to snuggle under � until the insides wadded up or a barb came through the ticking to stick you in one place or another.

Ticking, incidentally, is that white cotton cloth used to make the bags for the feathers or down. That�s why they were called feather ticks, in case you wanted to know.

I recall that I was always toasty under that thick cover. That was when we could see our breath in that second-story bedroom when the temperature hovered around zero. It was mighty cold up there!

Oh, how we hated to get up in the morning. We would crawl out from under that warm feather tick and scoot downstairs in our underwear or night gown. (Only the rich wore pajamas in those days.) Then we would dress as fast as possible behind the hot stove in the living room.

It didn�t dawn on me, as I stood shivering there, that Mother or Dad had long since been up and got the fire going.

Phyllis also scurried from the comfy bed to pull on her bloomers behind the simmering stove. In her case the stove was upstairs, which meant hauling the fuel up and the ashes down.

We both learned one thing, though: Not to stand too close!

In a way it�s too bad that youngsters today don�t get to experience life under a feather tick. If the bedroom gets too chilly, all they have to do is turn up the thermostat. They never do see their breath in the bedroom.

We have cozy comforters because we don�t like to sleep in a warm room. The only thing wrong with a down coverlet, though, is that you can�t adjust the heat; it�s all or nothing.

I liked my electric blanket with its handy control box, but as Phyllis has decreed � I�m under a comforter now.

That�s her word for it, but as far as I�m concerned, it�s still a plain old feather tick, thank you!

� 2002 Robert F. Karolevitz

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