Care of Your Broom: Happy October

Now is the time to check on the condition of your broom! Let’s do a quick check!

Don’t have one? A broom makes a great housewarming gift by sweeping away your/their troubles!

Caring for your Broom:

1. Always store your broom by hanging it up, or standing it on its handle.

This will keep the broom’s shape and will keep stress off it. For good luck, hang it over your door.

Taken at Old Sturbridge Village in MA.

2. Keep your broom indoors.

Your broom should be kept out of direct sunlight so it doesn’t bleach out or dry out.

Keep it away from damp areas so it doesn’t mold or cause the straw to break down. This includes porches and sheds.

3. Be gentle when cleaning it.

Use cloth and soap to wipe clean, or dip in warm soapy water. Rinse your broom and hang it in a well ventilated area to dry.

copyright N.A.M.

4. If you live in a very dry area, and your broom looks dry, dip it in warm water and hang to dry. It will wick up some of the moisture.

Broom Bits:

1. The original old English term for broom was besom.

2. Brooms are made from broomcorn, a form of sorghum that was previously used in animal feed.

3. Levi Dickinson of Hadley, MA in 1797 grew broomcorn and invented a process to make brooms quickly to sell.

4. The Shakers, a religions sect in the American Northeast invented the flat face broom and the machine to make it. This was an improvement from the rounded broom allowing the owner to reach into corners and under things.

Handle with Care:

1. Rumor has it, a witch’s broom is made from an ash wood handle, birch twigs for the brush end, with willow used to tie them to the handle.

Ash wood has been tied to strength and flexibility. There are many old myths tied to it including Norse, who believed that it was a special ash tree that connected earth and heaven.

Birch wood was believed to have protective powers. Baby cradles were made from it. In Medieval Wales birch wreaths were given as love tokens, and Maypoles were made from it.

Willow is associated with taking away sadness. Think of the weeping willows on Victorian age gravestones.

Willow trees control ground water: the Moon controls the tides, so willows are associated with the moon.  

Shall we take a ride?

1. In rural communities in the middle ages, they preformed the “Broom Dance” under a full moon to improve the crops. Farmers danced and leapt about with a broomstick or pitchfork or poles between their legs. (Imagine a kid with a stick horse galloping about. Sounds the same. Or was this an early carnival ride??). Oh, there is a full moon tonight!

2. The first accused witch to confess to broom riding was in 1453 and was a man: Guillaum Edelin. (He confessed under torture)

3. The first illustration of women straddling brooms was in Martin LeFranc’s ‘Le Champion des Dames’ in 1451. Sources state the manner of dress depicts a religious sect that was frowned upon by the main church at the time.

Sweeping Conclusions:

Whether you ride or sweep with your broom, or both, having a handmade broom beside your back door or by your hearth seems to make a house a home.

Happy October!!

N. A. M.

This tidy post is © N.A.M. 2021 for Maplewood Press.

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The 4th Grade Book Report Re-visited

Recently I discovered my mother had saved a folder of book reports I completed when I was in the 4th Grade. What am I going to do? I’m going to read those books again and see if my opinion has changed. Would I have outgrown what I thought was entertaining?

4th Grade was a weird year for me. I don’t remember much. I can’t even conjure up the teacher in my mind, which is odd, seeing I can rattle off every other teacher’s name, from the one who use to lock me in the coat closet for being disruptive, to the teacher who let me tell wild stories at “Show and Tell”, to the teacher who sent me out to do puppet shows for younger kids because I probably exhausted her.

Hmm, seems to be a theme growing.

4th Grade must have been a calm year. So calm I forgot it. I did learn from former classmates our teacher was nice.

Here we go


(I am going to use the same format my 4th Grade Teacher gave us to fill out.)

Title: Henry and the Clubhouse

Author: Beverly Cleary

(I didn’t have access to the original book I might have read. Hopefully the one I bought is close to the same version)

First Observation: I was happy to find out I actually read the book in 4th grade. I don’t remember reading any fiction books as a kid. I could say someone else read it and told me about it, but the way I expressed myself, that says I read it. Maybe I was bribed.

Why didn’t I want to read fun stories? It was tough for me as a dyslexic kid with ADHD to put that much effort into sitting down and reading.

Write three good sentences telling about the book:

I wrote: “Henry was the youngest paperboy. He started to build a clubhouse too. He had troubles and problems all thought the book. The book was very funny”…”When Beezus and Ramona get into action which causes Henry’s trouble.”  Seems my teacher had issue with those sentences, she circled “telling about” in red pen. Hey, I was just warming up!

Second Observation: The funny parts my 4th Grader self pointed out, were still funny. My adult self would want to add the main character riding downtown in a bathtub to that list.

I learned the story has not been updated like they have done to Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, even though the cover has. I am not sure kids today could relate to his being a paperboy and what is involved, or the fact he had to search all over for a phone, etc. Adult me found those elements nostalgic and the life lessons of hard work and tolerance were good to see.

Tell about one interesting part of the book:

Third Observation: The life lessons the author was trying to point out, went right over my 4th grade head. Stuffed owls scaring dogs and dogfights seemed more interesting to me back then.

Tell where you found the book, if you liked or disliked the book, and why you liked or disliked the book:

Fourth Observation: WHOA, slow down there Teacher! That is a three part question! How did my brain handle that?

I wrote: “I like the parts when it was around Halloween. Mrs Peobody’s dog Ranger was in the fight with Ribsy”  (Ribsy is Henry’s dog) “When Henry came to the door Ranger ran under the chair and wouldn’t come out. He was scared of the stuffed owl Henry was carring. At last he came out.”…and this is my favorite line, bringing it all home…“Mrs. Peabody bought a paper from Henry.”  Now doesn’t that just want you to read it to find out why he had a stuffed owl and she bought a paper from a paperboy? I thought so back then.

I said I found the book in the library. I don’t remember going to the school’s library. Did it have one? Now I have to find out. (sending message to a classmate who actually read books in school-she said yes.)

Ouch on the red pen circling the word their..or as I normally like to write it, thier. Hey, I wrote it correctly this time. I would see a lot of red pen in my school years. Two vowels together was always a popular tripping point for me. I could never “see” how they worked even after someone sang me that rule about “eyes after eees except after seas…” Hmm, why didn’t she red pen all the other misspellings? Must have been the compelling story I was weaving.

Back to the if I liked it: “Some parts were funny.” “There were not many sad parts.” There you have it. I liked upbeat stories!

Would I recommend this book to a child? Yes, for sure.



Title: Skip (I found the vintage book on-line)

Author: Aileen Fisher

Write three good sentences telling about the book:

I wrote: “The book is about a girl named Krissy and a dog named Skip. The story tells the troubles that Krissy had to get her dad to now that Skip was a good dog even if he is blind. Krissy had trouble keeping the secret.”

First Observation: I seem to be getting better at writing them.

Second Observation: Now I know why in the first book report I added “There were not many sad parts”. This book is full of suspense and should have been titled: “What animal on the farm is Dad going to kill next?”

Tell about one interesting part of the book:

When I saw the author of this book I did get excited. She is one of my favorite poets. Her poems are full of her love of nature and are soft and sweet. That comes through in this book when she describes going up into the hayloft (the mow): “The mow smelled good-dry and fragrant, as if a piece of summer had been hidden there away from the snow and cold.” Having played in haylofts as a kid, the author’s description did bring back memories. And look, I did mention the mow in this section of my report, so it made a good impression on me back then, too.

“I like the part when Krissy ordered Skip to come down from the mow. Skip tried to come down he missed the step and fell to the ground. Luckily Krissy grabbed skip in time and held him on the third step.  That is when she found out Skip was blind.”

Tell where you found the book, if you liked or disliked the book, and why you liked or disliked the book:

“I found this book at the school library.” Guess I did go there a few times!

“I liked this book because Krissy always feels bad for Skip. She was the only one that was helpful to Skip. There were many places that was sad and happy.”

My 4th Grade self seemed to like this book. My guess because it was relatable.

Third Observation: As for the whole storyline, sweet is not the author’s main direction. Would the events talked about be shocking to a kid of my generation, or a kid who grew up on a farm? No. The father character could have easily been mine. My Dad started out in life as a poor farm boy who understood animals had their place which meant they either fed the family or worked on the farm. My Dad had no issue with the circle of life and I suppose I didn’t either. That is why in my report I focused on the relationship between the farm dog Skip who went blind and the main character who loved him and tried to make him look useful to her father so he wouldn’t get rid of him.

Would I recommend this book? Looking at the story with a present day child in mind, no way would I put this on the shelf of a library. (I also would not let kids of today read “Where the Red Fern Grows” for the same reasons.)

I like how the story shows kids being personally responsible for chores, animals, siblings, to their parents, and keeping the family afloat. I’m scared those values are slipping away. The first book I posted about also did that, but not in such a harsh way.

According to my 4th Grade self, it does have a happy ending-if you can get there!

What fun it has been reading these old book reports. Or should I call them book reviews, because that is really what they are. As we all shelter in place these days, go ahead and grab a book from your childhood and read it for the pure simple joy of it. The words won’t be difficult, the pages will fly by, the fun will be silly, and you will find yourself relaxing.

Until next time, take care and stay safe!


This article is copyright © Atwood/N.A.M. 2020. All content and images are copyrighted unless otherwise noted. Please do not use in any form without request of author. Links to our articles, short quotes with credit, and associated links are allowed.

For more childhood book memories, please check out my previous article on “Nancy Drew: Then and Now” , and “Wonder Woman: Then and Now”.

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