I never fold a fitted bottom bed sheet properly.

I have watched YouTube videos to make a smooth rectangle out of the elastic-banded bunched up sheet. But my efforts always end up with one hunk of unfolded fabric. I smoosh the sheet into a vague resemblance of a rectangle before shoving it, the matching top sheet and one of the two pillow cases into the remaining pillow case for storage.

But I do love, love, love to sleep on fitted sheets.

In the 1940s, bed sheets were two of today’s rectangular top sheets, with no elastic bottoms. We tucked both sheets in, imitating the “hospital corners” to keep them neat. But both sheets came loose nearly every night, making remaking a bed either a long process of stripping it and redoing everything or, in my teenage years, hoping Mom wouldn’t notice when I smooshed sheets below the bedspread and kicked them into sleepable shape each night.

Though I can’t fold fitted sheets correctly, I still value them as one of our underappreciated advancements in technology.

The sheets of my boyhood also had another disadvantage. They were rough cotton, before the invention of “permanent press” or wrinkle-resistant fabric. We hung them on outdoor clotheslines to dry, giving them a nice fresh smell but also imparting a rough, wrinkled finish that was scratchy by comparison with today’s sheets that are smoothed and dried in mechanical clothes dryers.

When I replace the sheets on my bed these days, I smile in gratitude for modern convenience.

I do the same thing in our vehicles when I push the “squirts” button or lever to spray water and, in winter, antifreeze blend onto the windshield to wipe away road grime that builds up to block our vision.

Cars in the 1940s and 1950s did not have windshield washer systems as factory options. My first car, a 1955 Plymouth that I bought used, had an added-on “squirts” system. It consisted of a rubber bladder tank, rubber hoses running up to the windshield and, on the floor of the driver’s side, there was a black rubber bag. One smooshed that bladder bag with one’s left foot to drive water up to the windshield, one push at a time, if winter weather had not frozen the water in the hoses.

As teenagers, we were sometimes beyond dumb.

We figured out that if we disconnected the bladder hose to the windshield but filled the bladder tank with whiskey, we could foot-pump the whiskey through the disconnected hose and into a bottle held by a passenger, then passed around to the five or six of us out for a joyride.

“We can fool the cops!” we decided.

We gave no thought at all to the tendency of alcohol to strip the lining from inside the rubber hose, dumping those chemicals into our bottle before we drank from it. We just pretended that the gag-us-all taste of the whiskey/rubber mixture was in fact pretty good.

We did the same “Mmm! This tastes great!” deal with a purloined chicken or two. Yes, I, who now keep chickens, was once a poultry thief. In the dark of night, we sneaked into a nearby resident’s chicken coop, aware that in total darkness, chickens are usually in a trance-like state. If properly grabbed and stuffed into a burlap bag (Remember scratchy burlap bags?), the chicken would emit only a few clucks of annoyance until we had escaped up the nearby wooded hillside.

We were familiar enough with handling chickens in those days. Our parents sometimes brought home live chickens from the meat market in those pre-supermarket days after World War II.

So we teenage chicken thieves would dispatch the bird and pluck it. Of course, we omitted it the step of scalding the feathered bird in near-boiling water. We had neither water nor a pot in which to heat it. We just yanked off the feathers as best we could. All of us hunted, and had experience processing poultry, squirrels and rabbits, so that part of the pre-cooking went much better than did our attempts to remove the feathers before spit-roasting the bird over our fire. We did not allow the fire to develop the bed of coals that made for smooth and thorough cooking. We were famished. A few yellow flames licking the bird would do, we thought.

“Mmm!” we would say to each other, in between spitting out feathers and either choking on still-raw chunks or picking burned-black other chunks out from between our teeth. “This tastes good!”

That was us: Teen-age sheet smooshers, squirts boozers, chicken chompers.

These days, it is customary to recall the 1940s and early 1950s as “golden years” of idyllic pastimes.

They were that, to some extent.

But scratchy bed sheets, contaminated booze and undercooked chicken, though they sound amusing in memory, were sobering doses of realism.

I’ll take today’s smooth-feeling sheets, smooth-tasting whiskey and evenly cooked poultry.

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Denny Bonavita is a former editor at newspapers in DuBois and Warren. He lives near Brookville. Email: notniceman9@gmail.com

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