Good evening. Come on in and sit a spell and have some iced tea, sweet of course. I need to sweep my floor, but have the "can't help its" and just don't want to. That is not my favorite bit of housework and I wonder how in the world two people can track in so much dirt. It is amazing how much sand and dirt I sweep up from 2 pair of feet.
Even as a child, I didn't like to sweep floors and that was one of my chores around the house. We had wood floors and five people in the house and a lot of dirt was tracked in. Not only did we have to sweep but had to dust mop afterwards. Lot of work that needed to be done most every day.
Now when it was my time I would kinda, sorta, do a good job. Mama would do a better job but Daddy was the king of sweeping. Somehow he got the notion in his head that was his Sunday morning job while mama cooked breakfast and Sunday dinner all at the same time. He didn't think we could do the job as well as he could.
He would get the broom out and start in the back of the house and work to the front sweeping like it was a hospital and had to be sterile. Every corner, under each bed and other pieces of furniture he would sweep and mutter. If you listened closely it went something like this, "I don't think anybody has swept this house since last Sunday. I know they didn't sweep under the bed and in the corners. Looks like if there are two women in the house, they could sweep a floor clean." This would be muttered under his breath and mama and I would look at each other and grin for we knew we had swept, just not to his standards. In fact, I would do a haphazard job on Saturday since daddy was going to do a better job on Sunday. The muttering was kinda funny because he knew not to say it loud enough for mama to hear, for then it wouldn't be funny.
When we would visit our grandparents in Mississippi, we would use a different type of broom. Grandmother Cox, our great-grandmother, made her own brooms and our Grandmother Polk did also. They would cut broom sedge, a tall grass, and bundle it together for a broom. I liked to use those brooms for I was short and it was just right in height for me to use. Of course if you were taller it was murder on the back for you had to bend over.
There was an art to using that type of broom for it did not have a handle. It was just held together by string around the bundled tops. You had to kinda hold it sideways and sweep which was a little awkward if you were tall. Both these grandmothers were short so it suited them fine. You would hold it in your right hand, bend the broom slightly to the side and sweep across the floor. If it was a fresh broom, just made, it would sometimes leave bits of the grass on the floor, so you wanted one which had been used several times.
Some people would add a wooden handle in with the broom sedge and make a broom like the picture at the top of this posting. I remember watching grandmother Cox make one and she made a fancy pattern with the string while she was bundling it together. I wanted to learn but my hands were just not big enough at 5 or 6 years old.
The other broom they would make were twig brooms to sweep the yards. Now I know you are wondering why and how you would sweep the yards. Because most people did not have lawn mowers years ago, they would fence in an area right around the house for a yard and all the grass would be cleaned off of this area. They would then make a broom from long twigs, usually dogwood branches, to sweep the yards of sticks and trash. The art was to make a pretty pattern in the sand or dirt as you swept it. This meant after you had swept up all the trash, you walked backward and swept a pattern in the dirt. Because you were walking backwards there would be no footprints in the pattern. Some people would call it brooming the yard.
Now everybody didn't go to this much trouble, but our Grandmother Cox did. She was a master housekeeper and her yards were always swept and had pretty flower beds. She liked to have flowers growing most of the year and was a good gardener.
I sometimes wish we had a dirt yard when we have to mow our several acres but after thinking about it, I think I will keep my riding lawn mower. I know I will keep my broom with a long handle and vacuum cleaner. There is something to be said for progress!
The Georgia Peach