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Today is October 4, 2022

Grin 'n' Bare It

The evolution of wall-to-wall carpet

Kay Grafe
Kay Grafe

    Have you de-carpeted your house?
    If you are on the far side of 55, then you’re familiar with the expression “wall-to-wall carpet.” Today I’m extremely excited to announce that our family reached a milestone. We have removed the last trace of carpet from our house. It only took 43 years.
    There was a time when I yearned for carpet throughout the house. The idea of sashaying barefooted from room to room with carpet beneath my feet was a top priority. It was a luxury for folks whose funds weren’t meager like ours. Mr. Roy had a good job, but it was a “prove yourself” new job. And I didn’t work, except to clean, cook and take care of two babies.
    Time came when we scraped together a down payment to build a house. We lived in Mobile. This house had hardwood floors. Not the thin planks that are used frequently today. They were the real thing. I didn’t appreciate hardwood since I’d lived with it all my life and it was less expensive than carpet—back in the day.
    Some of our friends had wall-to-wall. These friends had been working longer than Mr. Roy and they seemed to enjoy showing it off. The wives had ratchet jaws when they went into detail about choosing the perfect color and its expense. You’d think I was jealous.
    A few years passed and we moved back to Lucedale, as did our friends the McIntoshs. They were also in our boat—without wall-to-wall carpet. That didn’t seem to bother them. The carpet evolution was in full force when Mr. Roy and Mr. George decided to build a duplex for us until we could find property (and money) to build a house. They were working as engineers at the shipyard in Pascagoula.  
    Miss Nell and I were busy housewives and our children became good friends. They had two boys and we had two girls. The important thing about living in the duplex was that both our families had carpet, only in the small living room. We kept that door closed so the children wouldn’t get it dirty.
    In the meantime Miss Nell and I pestered our hard-working husbands to find house plans that would correspond with the property we eventually bought. It was west of the city limits on Fig Farm Road. We split the property, but not equally. Mr. George needed more acreage for a large garden and farm animals. He had grown up on a farm. There was a sizable amount of land for both of us with lots of woods and open fields. 
    Mr. Roy sent me off to college and Mr. George sent Miss Nell off to work in the school system. Nell had gone to college, but I started from scratch. Guess what my driving force was when I went to the University in Mobile? Wall-to-wall carpet.
    Oh, yes. I became a teacher and helped pay for the carpet.
    So there we were in the seventies with lots of land, a house and wall-to-wall carpet. What about furniture? Nope. Just a few odds and ends that my parents had given us when we got married. And sheets on the windows. The kitchen and bathroom were also carpeted.
    Well, well, well. I was happy with my shag carpet that needed vacuuming every other day and raked every day so the strands wouldn’t flatten out. I was happy for awhile—until the carpet got dirty and store-bought cleaners didn’t work and the carpet was flat and the kitchen and bathroom carpet was a disaster. Whew! Oh, my.
    This evolution was not over.    
    Out went the shag and in came the plush wall-to-wall ... except I was realistic in the kitchen and bathrooms. In came the tile.
    So life was like a dream, right? No. We became the parents of a cute puppy that lived indoors. And our darling children didn’t take their shoes off at the door. Time moved along.
    Sadly, one day the professional carpet cleaner just stood there shaking his head.
    The first to go was the den carpet. In came beautiful light-oak hardwood.
    Over the years we slowly eliminated the carpet. And now, 43 years later, I watched as Mr. Roy pulled all traces of carpet off the stair treads. They are now light-oak hardwood.
    All my friends and readers are invited to come have a bowl of vanilla Blue Bell and help us celebrate a new beginning. You can spill the whole bowl on my floor and I’ll laugh and say, “Don’t worry, it will wipe right up.”

    Kay Grafe is the author of “Oh My Gosh, Virginia.” To order, send name, address, phone number and $16.95, plus $3.50 S&H to Kay Grafe, 2142 Fig Farm Road, Lucedale, MS 39452.

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