“I need a new broom for my spring cleaning,” the elderly lady said as she inspected the selection in the cleaning aisle of the supermarket. “A new broom sweeps clean,” she said. It is funny how an old saying can send your mind down new, unexplored paths.
I doubt seriously if my grandmother ever went to a store to buy a broom. If she needed a new broom, she simply asked grandfather to make one. Everything he needed to make the brooms came from the farm except for a couple of pieces of bailing wire.
Actually, they used two different brooms in those days. They had a yard broom and a house broom. The yards around farmhouses of that day were kept clear of any vegetation. If a sprig of grass dare sprout near the house, it was rooted up immediately. Then the hard-packed dirt yards were swept frequently. It was their method of pest control. If any bug, worm, lizard or any other crawly creature dared to cross the yard, a nearby chicken would spot it and add it to her menu.
Yard brooms were made from dogwood limbs. Dogwood trees that grow under old-growth pine trees are long and spindly due to low light levels. Three of these limbs tied tightly together made a very satisfactory yard broom. When it was worn beyond use, the limbs then were used as handles for the house broom.
Cotton was almost the only crop grown in those days, but cotton is very damaging to the soil. If a field was planted in cotton for several consecutive years, it would simply stop producing. Farmers had no choice but to abandon that field for a number of years and allow native plants to recolonize it and eventually bring the soil back into balance. About the only thing that would grow on an exhausted cotton field was broom straw.
Any time a new house broom was needed, there would be a nearby field of broom straw to harvest for the straw. Farmers kept a supply of the material cut and cured to use for new brooms as they were needed. A new handle was cut from worn out yard brooms, or the old handle reused. A bundle of straw of the appropriate size was placed around the end of the handle then tightly bound in place with bailing wire. The more you twist the wire, the more secure the broom.
These brooms looked exactly like the ones used by wicked witches, or Harry Potter, to fly through the air. However, the only time I ever saw one of them fly was when grandmother threw it at a barking dog!
So, what is the purpose of this column? It is possible for people to take care of themselves without government interference, regardless of the state of the economy. That is, if they have the motivation and knowledge necessary to make do with whatever resources are available. It takes some experience, and some effort, but it can be done.
My diapers were made from flower sacks. My toys were made from such things as corn cobs and chicken feathers. Yet I never felt underprivileged or impoverished. Maybe it is time for our families to relearn some of these skills.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His e-mail address is email@example.com. His website can be accessed at http://frankgillispie.tripod.com/
Frank, who's paying for your medication? Medicare? VA? Are you on disability? Who is paying for that? You know, sometimes United States citizens need a helping hand from THEIR government. It's a good thing that there is unemployment insurance, huh? I agree that there are people who abuse the government teat but let's focus on stopping these people and helping our fellow countrymen who are in need instead of giving millions if not billions of dollars to corporations and political cronies.
Just another taxpayer
05/23/09 at 07:39 AM
I agree with you. There is so much abuse of the government aid that there is not enough when people really need help.
I work in a grocery store and see it everyday. People come in with their food stamp cards and buy hundreds of dollars in FINE food and their balance is still in the hundreds. People come in in groups and one person is using a card to pay for ALL of the food and still have hundreds left over.
I see people paying no rent, living with police officers getting aid. They work 40 hours a week and have very nice clothes, get their hair adjusted almost weekly, nails are all pretty and different each week and still has 800.00 a month in food stamps.
Invest some of this free money and check out the people getting this aid instead of sitting behind a desk denying people that are really in need.
Imagine the savings! Oh and Frank this is 2009. The old days are gone. Use that hot air to come up with real ideas to help this county.
05/21/09 at 11:02 PM
I agree with you! Our families need less dependency on the government and more survival for themselves.