I know this will date me as two years older than a pterodactyl, but I remember when the coolest thing in college that you could own was a waterbed. If you’ve never seen a waterbed, it’s like a giant pillow made of thick vinyl, full of hose water and held in a clunky wooden bed frame. Think air mattress, only full of water. The only way you could get the water into the bed ‘bladder’ was to use a hose and hope you would have the proper attachment to get the water in the bulky thing. The bigger the bed, the longer it took to fill. You were totally screwed if you got a new bed in the dead of winter, your outside water spigot wouldn’t work and your hose was frozen.
Then again, everyone always wanted to get sleep in a water bed and it was the mandatory piece of furniture for the sexual revolution that took place at the end of the last century. If you got the ‘waves’ moving in sync together in the bed, you’d have a swell time. If you didn’t figure out the water movement in the big bladder the two of you would be bounced out of the bed with the backlash wave. Anybody that was cool in the 70’s and 80’s had a waterbed. The place in Utah to buy water beds during those avocado and gold tinted years was at the Stone Balloon waterbed store in the 9th and 9th neighborhood in Salt Lake City. The owner had the grooviest headboards and Naugahyde-lined bed boxes in town. I never owned one although I remember going in and coveting the beds on a monthly basis after shopping trips to another neighborhood store-Mother’s Earth Things.
Waterbeds went out of style when foam, cloud, pillow top and dial-your-own-number beds started appearing. By then renters and homeowners were fed up with having to drain them and patch them when they sprung leaks. I can remember making every excuse in the book to avoid helping friends move the beasts from apartment to apartment. Landlords began not allowing them after a decade of popularity because of the water disasters they could cause to floors and ceilings. You can still buy them for special needs though, but Stone Balloon and waterbed stores a thing of the past.
Flip ahead 30 years. The 9th and 9th neighborhood is no longer a bastion of hippie shops and small stores where you could by tickets to a night in heaven. Gone are far out concerts at the Terrace Ballroom on Main Street with groups coming into town like Lydia Pense and Cold Blood, Frank Zappa, the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. Man, even the Doors played that venue with the faux-star lit ceiling. You’d spark a few from your dime bag, dance in your platform shoes all night and then crash at someone’s pad on their waterbed in the wee hours of the morning. You’d hope the heating coils under the bladder had been left on during a cold January night and that you wouldn’t get too nauseous riding the waves-because those beds were next to impossible to get out of quickly.
Sigh. Don’t read me wrong. I love the 9th and 9th hood and all its quirky local shops these days just as I did back then. Standing outside of the Tower Theater and reading the weathered ‘bark’ of music posters for local bands and venues that are stapled or taped to the utility box and light poles just takes me way back to memory lane.