Do you remember when Granma did the spring cleaning? She cleaned all the time anyway but this was when the whole house got ripped up! Winter drapes came down and summery organdy curtains went up. The rugs got pulled up and taken outside and thrown over the clothesline or maybe Granpa had put up some metal pipes just for this purpose. (He did that because he had gotten sick and tired of putting up the clothesline every time he pitched the rugs over it.) That’s when kids got to do something about their aggressions. You were handed a bamboo rug beater and told to beat the hell, and perhaps the dirt, out of the rugs. YEAH!

The first ten minutes were almost science fiction. There were things erupting from that rug that had no business being in it. If you were extremely lucky, you might see a penny or two flying loose. Consider that a tip. After a while, you just knew there was nothing that was going to shake loose. That rug beater had done all it could and the only thing that could do more would be an express train hitting it. You wandered away just for a second,,,,,,,,BBBBAAAAMMMMM! The door would fly open and reveal Granma and Mommy standing there looking like at least two horsewomen of the Apocalypse!

You would hear standard complaint # 22 about how children didn’t want to do any work even though they made all the mess. (Not true! That was not my gum stuck to the rug!)

Granma took the rug beater and Mommy took the broom. This was going to be the Battle of the Titans! The only thing that didn’t get beat out of that rug was the pattern.

We did have a vacuum cleaner and I know it cost a lot of money. The guy used to come around every Friday and get a dollar from either Granma or Mommy. Mommy used to run it because Granma was convinced it would set the house on fire. Just because one time, it got plugged in and it blew a fuse! Mommy called Daddy and he had to come home from work to change the fuse. That was when Granma decided that you couldn’t run the vacuum with any of the lights on or the radio or anything. When I saw what came out of that rug with those two women beating it……? Granma was right! That vacuum was only good to impress the neighbors.

Now the strange smells would start to whiff out on the wind. You can’t clean a house without,, Fels-Naptha soap, Ammonia, Pine scented stuff that smelled like anything but pine and Murphy’s Oil Soap. For some reason no one ever added Purefine Washing Fluid to the bucket. They sure put enough of it in the washer when doing the ‘whites’. This may have been a precursor to “Weapons of Mass Destruction”.

I saw Mommy come home from the store one day with a bottle of blue stuff. It was called Windex and it was supposed to clean windows so good that it looked like they weren’t there! Granma picked up this bottle and stared at it while muttering in a combo of German and Yiddish. Mommy only understood English and I learned early on not to offer a translation. Granma was convinced this was going to stain the window blue. She had been using a bucket of ammonia and water in some strange proportions and she would dry the glass with newspaper. Mommy took the Windex upstairs and Granma took the bucket of ammonia and water to the downstairs. They both used the newspapers to dry with. When Daddy came home, he was called to judge the windows. The man was a born diplomat! He swore that he couldn’t tell the difference. ( I couldn’t either but Mommy swore that upstairs windows gleamed with purity instead of just being clean. Granma said…..Well…..never mind what Granma said.)

Now, the mechanics of housecleaning didn’t involve anything that ran with electricity other than the vacuum which was ignored during spring cleaning. There were buckets and one had a wringer on it which my Grandma ignored. She would grab that string mop and strangle the boiling hot water out of it. My Mommy wore big floppy rubber gloves and she couldn’t strangle a mop half as well as Granma. We had two brooms. One was the new broom which was always purchased from “Lighthouse for the Blind”.

Those blind people could make a broom that stood up to almost anything! The newer broom was used to sweep up inside. The older broom which had been used so often it was now about 6 inches shorter than the new one was used for anything that went outside or in the cellar. We had a dust mop. It was a mop handle with the metal stuff on the bottom but instead of a mop head, it was wrapped with flannel rags. From what I saw, Flannel is hell on dust bunnies! We had a rag bag that contained pieces of old clothes that were beyond repair. Granma was the one who determined what went in that bag because she was the one who did the repairs. My Mommy would put in an old sweater that had lost it’s buttons and was coming apart from age. The color was indeterminate because it had been washed at least twice in the machine and someone may have added “Purefine Washing Fluid”. You KNOW that Granma pulled that sweater out and said a lot of stuff about people wasting money and throwing away perfectly fine clothes. Granma repaired it and put on new buttons from her stash and then put it in the washer with a package of Rit dye.

Granma made a big fuss about giving Mommy back the sweater with a small lecture about not being too quick to throw away good things. ( I can’t be sure but I think when Granma passed on, Mommy may have put the sweater in the coffin with her.) Instead of forty or fifty different scents of air freshener, They opened the windows wide.

The brisk spring air would come gusting through and take the odors with it. Especially the odors of ammonia and ‘Pine’ scented cleaner. WHEW! I remember a time when my Mommy bought a brand-new thingy. It was called “Air-Wick” and it was supposed to bring a wonderful smell to rooms that traditionally didn’t always smell great. Like the bathroom when Daddy had eaten two plates of baked beans the night before. Mommy opened the Air-Wick and hid it behind the bathroom hamper so Granma wouldn’t see it. It did smell better than the ‘Pine Scented’ floor cleaner.

Mommy was feeling quite pleased with her quantum leap in housekeeping…..Until.. Granma went to the bathroom and opened the door and exclaimed; “OY VEY IST MIR! Vas Schtinkteh zoi?” I think Mommy put the Air-Wick in the cellar after that. If you have watched any TV at all, you may have noticed that they use so many different things to clean a house with that it must take them weeks to finish. How many different kinds of mops can you use at once? Some don’t even look like mops and if you ask me the only way they’ll work is if you pull out the old string mop and the bucket of ammonia and “Pine Scented” cleaner and swab the decks first!! Then you might be able to use one of these little Sniffer ones. There are hundreds of different scents you can spray around your house to cover up the odors of stale socks, kitty litter and just possibly dead dog. What the Hell? Why bother to clean it? Just spray it and keep the shades closed!

Progress……..Ya just gotta love it!

***


© By Swampetta (SWAMPETTA@aol.com)

© 'Toon by Swampetta

 

 

 







Watch these pages for more poems and toons by Swampetta.
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City Streets and Flower Carts

Fickle Spring

Ode To The Wild Prairie Rose

Meandering

An Old Love, Viewed By Candlelight

There Is A Link

Those Beautiful Daffodil Eyes

Astride The Tiger


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