In the days before vacuum cleaners, a house would get pretty dirty by the end of the winter as the only way dust and lint could be removed was with a broom and dustpan. The first three or four houses we lived in had softwood floors to which strips of carpeting about two feet wide were tacked from wall to wall over sheets of old newspaper. The dust from mud and dirt on our shoes went down thru the carpet onto the paper beneath where it stayed until spring house cleaning time. Lint from sheets and blankets accumulated under the beds - a broom wouldn't remove it, even in the best of houses. If we hid under the beds when we played hide-and-seek we came out covered with lint. In the last house the family lived in Paulding, however, had a strip of hardwood about a foot or 18 inches wide along the outer walls, only the center of the room being softwood. The hardwood was varnished and the center of the room covered with a rug which was all in one piece. And it was not necessary to tack it to the floor.
When spring house cleaning time arrived, all of the furniture was removed from one room at a time and the tacks pulled out of the carpet which was carried outdoors and hung over the clothes line or spread out flat over the lawn. Then my mother and all of the older children got busy with carpet beaters pounding out the dust. The beaters were made of wire and were about three feet long with a wooden handle, raised so you wouldn't skin your knuckles when you whacked the carpet. Banging the dust out of the carpet was fun for a little while but soon got to be boring. Once, when the Spriggs family, which lived across the street from us on South Cheery Street, bought a hand operated vacuum cleaner, I asked my mother if I could go over and borrow it. She consented reluctantly and I went and got it. I thought it would be easier than using the carpet beater but it took all the strength I had. Besides, you couldn't see the dust being removed as you could with the beater. I used it about 15 minutes then took it back.
Before the carpets were tacked down again over clean newspapers, the ceilings and walls were cleared of dust and cobwebs and the furniture washed. The beds had to be taken apart and all the dust and lint removed from the springs and mattress. I don't believe we owned a vacuum cleaner until after I finished high school.
Last modified on 31 May 2009 @ 20:10