Thursday, October 14, 2010
The Preacher’s Corner
Men running the sweeper alongside the ladies
Recently I went shopping for a vacuum cleaner. The one I’ve had had begun to fail, so I went to my favorite discount emporium to see what models were available.
It is hard to imagine there are so many ways to clean the house, but here I was confronted by an entire aisle of sweepers, power vacuums, shop vacs, and who knows what else. I was bewildered.
The vacuum we had when I was a child seemed indestructible, and throughout the experience I mused upon the fact that I should not be having to get a new machine, for in the olden days they were made, perhaps, too well — hence the “planned obsolescence” of our throw-away, plastic society.
My Sunday school teacher, growing up, sold vacuum cleaners. He ran our Ben Franklin five-and-10 cent store, and after retiring from that business, sold Electrolux tank vacuums door-to-door. Mr. Ashford was good at selling and prospered at his part-time, retirement occupation. Our Sunday school class would hear all sorts of stories he met while driving the back roads of Bolivar County to call on prospective customers.
Later, I inherited one of these big machines and used it until the cord gave out and could not be repaired. This vacuum was so sturdy — it seemed to be made of cast iron. It could pick up anything. I was sorry to see it go.
Finally, after a good deal of shopping and pondering, I selected a model, and am pleased to say that it has proved quite useful.
All this talk about vacuum cleaners reminds me of an incident that is recorded in the records of our church. It seems that in 1911, the Martha Davis Foreign Mission Society, a ladies’ organization named in honor of one of its faithful, local members, obtained for the church a hand-operated vacuum cleaner from the Vortex Company of Boston, Massachusetts, which, after trial, proved unsatisfactory.
I cannot imagine sweeping the rugs in that big church building with a machine that was worked by hand. Apparently, neither could the ladies of the Martha Davis Foreign Mission Society — which apparently, too, was concerned with certain matters closer to home.
Anyhow, when an attempt was made to return the sweeper for a refund, the ladies discovered that the company had gone out of business!
Things rocked along for awhile, and some years later, by unanimous vote on June 6, 1925, the church elders (all men in those days) directed that “Miss Helen Fant be granted permission to furnish a vacuum cleaner for the church and that the electric current be used in the cleaning of the church.”
Each lady had brought nickels to the women’s meetings until enough had been collected to purchase the sweeper, a Bissell.
We are doing quite a bit of cleaning around our church just now, but the ladies of the present era have not asked the men for permission. Instead, the men are running the sweeper, right alongside the ladies. It is a new day, indeed and I, for one, am grateful!
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