By John Powell
Are you ready for it? National Hammock Day is fast approaching. It’ll be here July 22nd. For one glorious summer day, everyone will have an excuse to slow down, put their feet up and….relax. Take a break from all your worries as the song goes.
If you are asking why celebrate National Hammock Day, then you most likely are in need of celebration more than you may realize.
Hammocks have been around close to 1,000 years…Mayan culture is the thought to be their origin…designed to keep the population off the jungle floors and away from pesky bugs that bit. When Christopher Columbus “discovered” the new world, he and his fellow explorers were fascinated by hammocks and took several back with them as a gift to the queen. Treasures from the new country so to speak.
It didn’t take long for these gently swaying beds to become popular with sailors. Early hammocks cradled seafarers and as sailing ships bobbed to-and-fro out on the ocean, sailors were kept safely in place when sleeping. Although hammocks kept their occupants from falling out of “bed”, they cocooned the body and as a result, they were hot. Very hot.
A few decades after the end of the American Civil War, A South Carolina Riverboat Captain by the name of Joshua John Ward was struggling to sleep one summer evening in the humidity thick Carolina Low Country. According to his journals, the year was 1889. Over the next few days, Capt’n Josh as he was known, using some rope he had on board began to slowly fashion what would become a rope hammock.
His weaving technique, evolved over several attempts to one that didn’t have uncomfortable knots as part of the hammock bed. Another of his innovations was adding a spreader bar – some say, made with the slats of an empty rum barrel. Rum and sailors go together, right? This revolutionary “spreader bar” concept allowed the hammock bed to lay flat. The woven bed and the flatness of the hammock, allowed air to circulate around him.
His efforts at long last rewarded him with a good night’s sleep. With help from his family, the woven rope hammock began to gain notice. Vacationers to Pawleys Island, SC, began to notice these woven works of relaxation wonder and inquired about how to get one to take home with them. Soon, a fledgling cottage industry was born. The rest is history as they say. Pawleys Island Hammocks quickly grew to regional and national success.
Captain Joshua John Ward, weaver of first Original Pawleys Island Hammock
Hammocks have gone through several design changes over the years. Fabric hammocks such as Tufted, and Pillowtop versions, by Hatteras Hammocks, and in addition to the rope hammock offered by Pawleys Island Hammocks, a Quilted variety, these styles add color and pillowy softness. Nylon travel hammocks, popping up on college campuses and campsites with Millennials, are available from companies like Castaway Travel Hammocks. These travel hammocks store easily in a pouch sewn onto the bed of the hammock. Simply pull the hammock out of the pouch, attach straps to any convenient tree, and attach each end of the hammock to the straps – quick and easy hammock setup.