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I recently started reading Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt. Ever heard of it? I guess it’s pretty famous. The book is a loose autobiography of the author’s life, a saga of growing up in a miserably poor Irish family during the Great Depression. McCourt’s a very good writer and his dialogue drips with authenticity—you can almost hear the people talking in thick Irish accents.

In the part I just finished, Frank’s grandmother gives his family money for an apartment in Dublin. The apartment is basically one room with a mattress on the floor. But McCourt’s family was previously homeless, and they’re overjoyed to have a place to call home. They all get into the bed together (around six of them) and start sleeping as one big happy family—it has all the makings of a wholesome scene. But shortly after going to sleep, their happy rest is interrupted by swarms of bed bugs crawling over their skin, the children screaming in agony.

Frank’s dad drags the mattress outside and starts beating it with a shoe. He’s interrupted by a Dubliner riding by on a bike who asks him what he’s doing. After the dad tells him, the guy tells him to just flip the mattress—that the bed bugs will be trapped, still in a rage from gorging on their blood (bed bugs tend to go in a frenzy after feeding)—and kill each other. Highly questionable advice, to say the least.

It must have been miserable living in a time before effective pest control. Families (especially poorer ones) used to all sleep in the same bed—which presented an excellent feeding opportunity for bed bugs. And with few effective chemical pest control agents then in existence, an infested mattress must have been the bane of many a family’s existence.

Lucky for us, we live in the 21st century! For any NYC bed bug problem, call the pros at Rest Easy so you can rest easy.