Handmade fire truck bed's winding journey: Sweet dreams to generations of kids

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More than 20 years ago, Tampa woodworker John Williams was inspired during a trip to Atlanta. His inspiration was a fire truck.

"I thought, 'I could make a bed that looked like that,'" he said.

Williams' 2-year-old son, David, loved everything about fire trucks. So Williams spent a month of weekends cutting and assembling plywood in the garage.

Many of those moments were captured on the family's old VHS video camera. David can be seen and heard making siren noises while running around the pre-painted bed.

David slept on the bright-red bed for three years, then his younger brother Joe used it for another three.

"My wife and I got to talking about it, said well maybe there's some other families that would like it," Williams said.

Originally, they took the bed to a local fire station, with the idea that someone with kids would want it and then return it to them when the Williamses welcomed grandkids. Only the second thought stuck.

Instead, a familiar sight and sound helped determine where the bed would go next.

"We were at a baseball game. This little kid, son of one of the coaches, just went crazy when one of the fire engines went by," Williams said. "I turned to the mother and said, 'I've got a deal for you.'"

That family was the Powers family. After that, the bed went to another coach's family, the Welches. Next were the Shells, neighbors of the Williams family. And finally, the Perry family, friends of the Shells, took the bed.

"[It was] over the course of 20-something years before it came back to us," Williams said.

The bed returned because David Williams had his first child, Charlie -- John Williams' first grandson.

"It would be the fourth-generation to have laid in the bed," Williams said.

Charlie has outgrown the bed. His younger brother Jack uses the bed now, when the two boys visit their grandparents home after school.

The bed has lasted throughout the family transitions, only repainted when it was returned to the Williams family. When John Williams sees it, along with photos of the bed, he gets nostalgic, thinking of different memories.

"It's pretty humbling to realize that I've done something that so many people have enjoyed," he said.

As far as what's next, Williams has a 3-month-old granddaughter. If she takes an interest in the bed, she'll be the first girl to sleep in it.