Does anyone else remember sweeping yards?
Yes, around your house.
As a young child, I had never heard of a lawnmower. I am sure they must have been around because I had "town" friends who had lawns. In fact, my then best friend, a cousin, lived in town and had a neighbor with a green lawn. Two daughters, one of whom was in my grade at Berryhill, lived there.
On a clear fall afternoon my cousin and I were enlisted, on one of my visits, to help the daughters rake the neighbor’s lawn, with a promise of a "reward" afterwards.
After the leaves were raked late in the afternoon, we burned very small piles of them. While we sat around the smoldering leaves, we ate delicious fresh tomato sandwiches made by the mother of the two girls. (Another treat for me was the sandwich made with a "bought" loaf of bread.)
But at my house and my grandparents’ houses, we had no such lawns for raking.
In these yards and others in the country, every blade of grass had to be pulled up or hoed to leave the bare ground, which had to be swept.
In both winter and summer the yards were kept swept clean. The "brooms" we used for sweeping were made from what we called "gall berry" bushes, which we cut from the woods near our home.
We selected bushes about three feet tall, cut several stalks of them, laid them out to dry, then beat them on the ground to get the dead leaves off the bushes, leaving a bare, limber bush.
Then, several bare bushes, maybe six or eight, were tied together, up and down the stalks, with string or pieces of leftover cloth to make a bushy "broom," hence calling it a "brush broom."
We used the brooms as long as the limbs were pliable and long enough to sweep the yards around the house so that not a leaf could be seen.
Much later, establishing my own home, my children had a now-antique rolling lawnmower. The blades rolled over and over when pushed. Of course, the yard still had to be "swept," but with the use of a lawn rake, never a "brush broom."
I had all but forgotten this weekly or monthly chore, depending on the season, until my daughter recently casually mentioned I had told her at some point about sweeping the yards, which seemed foreign to her.
With the use now of fancy riding lawnmowers, some with air-conditioning, almost no one remembers our brush brooms. However, I certainly don’t miss all the gathering, preparing and using them.
Doris Melvin Kingry, retired English and Journalism teacher, was first woman elected to public office in Santa Rosa County where she served eight years. She is a native Santa Rosan, living where her family has lived for several generations.