Meditating on Murphy Beds

Illustration by Marshall Reeves

Often it isn’t just the original invention itself that often rattles the world. It’s its improvements, innovations, new applications. Think of the relationship between the wheel and the wheelbarrow, of the sailor’s hornpipe and Beethoven’s Ninth, of gum and bubble gum.

That’s why the invention of the bed which replaced the pile of smelly bearskins was such a big deal. But nowhere near as big, as far as I am concerned, as the development of a Murphy Bed. Granted that at first, it seemed to be big only in Hollywood, where the Murphy Bed was a useful tool for the silent era comics who were forever getting caught in it and disappearing inside the wall.

You may laugh if you want to, but it was God-sent to us. We usually lived in large houses with plenty of bedrooms and also plenty of room in the bedrooms beside the beds. Then came Vancouver’s Yaletown – smack in the middle of the city’s happenings but the price for a square foot was phenomenal. What to do?

So out of the wall now pops a Murphy bed – sturdy, practical, reliable, trustworthy and loyal. Truly a man’s and woman’s best friend when fatigue sets in after a busy day and – for some –  occasionally on days that weren’t too busy, when new life is about to begin. It pops unobtrusively back into the wall in the morning or when the job is done. It has fake door handles at the bottom et voila, une workroom, a den, an office, with plenty of acreage around it.

Keep your sliced bread, iPhones or light beer – I’ll take the Murphy bed any day.

Jan Drabek

Jan Drabek


The octogenarian Jan Drabek has been an ambassador in Africa, Chief of Protocol, author, Vancouver High School teacher, a graduate student in southern India, a radio announcer in Germany, a sailor aboard a US aircraft carrier, and a failed naval aviator trainee.