Aunt Molly Caudell was no witch but she considered the broom her first, and best, line of defense when ordering her universe. Not only would she sweep the house out twice a day (more, if necessary) but she could brandish it like a Japanese fighting sword when confronting bad dogs, brawling cats, mischievous brats, traveling salesmen, and deadbeat borders.
She wore out several every year and traded them off regularly to the broom making man when he made his rounds.
About mid-summer she noticed ants in her sweepings. You didn’t realize how many there were on the floor until you gathered them all in one spot but when you saw about half the dirt trying to crawl away you knew you had a problem. But it wasn’t until her kitchen had been full of little cornbread-eating rug-rats that she saw the extent of her problem. She’d only gotten her kitchen about half-swept when the fireworks started and she’d hurried away. When she returned she had to finish cleaning before going to bed and started sweeping by lamplight. But when she touched the pile of crumbs with her broom a small river of black ants cascaded from the leavings. In her disgrace Aunt Molly uncharacteristically let fly some cuss words nobody had ever heard before, much increasing the vocabularies of those nearby, including a bible salesman, who was snacking nearby.
After that it was war. Molly mopped and swept continuously. Left crumbs out to track the varmints to their nests where she left used, damp coffee grounds. Within three years she was able to declare victory and only the occasional ant strayed, much to its peril, into her spotless kitchen.
The fading days of summer mean more work.
—Farmer Ooka Brown
80 years later, Molly’s great-great-great grand-nephew, Morrie Caudell, decided he might as well go ahead and sweep his kitchen floor even though it had only been a couple or three weeks since the last time. “Cleanliness is next to godliness,” and all that. It wasn’t long before he realized that underneath all that stuff his floor was crawling with ants! “Yuck!” Maybe that meant he should mop, too?
“Dagnabbit,” he cursed.
That afternoon he opened up a pack of ant traps—the super-powered kind—and left them on his floor. It literally killed the ants dead in their tracks. Long lines of them stretched from his kitchen baseboards, like Jonestown. Which was fortunate, because soon after he lost his broom somewhere in the basement and never had occasion to sweep again.