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  • Writer's pictureTerri Brummel

The Cleaning Brigade

By Terri Brummel

As a child I witnessed a ritual called “spring housecleaning.” My Dad and I would often shudder in fear. The family ate homemade soup for a week! The soup was good, but after eating it for a week, Dad and I had had it! 

The men of the house said “if you cherish your belongings, you had better sit on them.” Nothing was safe; it would be sanitized, pulverized or thrown away. Mom became a whirling dervish with a turban on her head, protecting her head from cobwebs. With broom in hand, she looked like she was going to war. Every picture came off the wall; every drawer and closet were emptied. Contents were scrutinized. Some were deemed worthy of keeping; others went in the trash.

Curtains were washed and dried on a device called a “curtain stretcher” (wooden with at least a thousand nails on it). Woe to the child or dog who caused a small dust storm. Mom’s pride was greatly diminished if said curtains were not as white as snow. 

Rugs were draped over the clothesline and dirt beaten out with a broom. Mom beat the living daylights out of them. My boy cousins lived for this time; they hid between the clotheslines and hit the carpet back, scaring Mom. There was much screeching and laughter. This was the only time the boys were called “you little demons!” 

The wooden surfaces were Bonami-ed (akin to Comet or Ajax) until every vestige of dirt was gone. Last of all, the floors were scrubbed on hands and knees at least twice. 

The whole house shone like a silver dollar and Mom slept for a week! Oh no, around October, this would happen again! Wonder if my heart and soul could use some housecleaning too?!



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