Happy Holidays to all of our loyal customers! And to get you in the holiday cheer, we recently found out that one of our customers was inspired and wrote a short story about one of our sweeps that won a short story contest in the Guelph Mercury!
Full text is below along with link:
Preparing the Chimney for Christmas
By Pauline Lachman
“He’s here. The chimney sweep is here,” Uncle Ted called out.
A puzzled frown appeared on Tayo’s face.
“Why do you want to sweep the chimney?” she asked.
Before anyone could give her an answer, she smacked her cheek and said, “I know. I know. So Santa’s suit doesn’t get messy.”
A few minutes earlier she had overheard her uncle say that in olden times little boys or girls were sent up as helpers into the chimney to sweep the soot. She was about to ask what “olden” meant when a white van pulled into the driveway.
Tayo looked around. She was the only little one present. Oh, no! She was taking no chances. She didn’t want to be asked to go up that dark hole. So she scampered behind the couch.
“We sweep the chimney so clean air can come through to the fireplace when we light it for the holidays,” her uncle finally said.
Tayo did not hear this. She was far too busy worming her way into the tiny space behind the sofa.
All became quiet. She heard the thud as outside shoes were taken off and thrown in a corner. She peeked and saw a dirty jacket slide across the floor. “Yuck!”
“Is it a boy or girl?” she called out from her secret hiding place.
The family chuckled. Not yet five years old, Tayo knew everyone as either a boy or girl. After a visit to the dentist she was heard to say, “You know something, the dentist is a girl doctor.”
Loud laughter from her uncle made her inch forward to have a closer look at whoever had come in. He was tall like her dad but not fat like Santa. He had on warm socks, blue pants that looked as though he had played in the mud, and a big shirt like the one her dad wore on cold days. The “boy” kept his baseball cap on.
Clang! Clang! He let his tools fall to the floor. There were long shiny poles, a brush and a mirror. Curious, Tayo crept closer. Her mouth half open, her eyes as wide as black-eyed Susan flowers, she watched as he reached into the fireplace and placed the mirror somewhere.
“What does he want to see?” she asked. No one replied.
He took the brush and poked about.
“Yikes,” the sweeper yelled and jumped back.
Out ran a mommy squirrel and two babies. Tayo squealed with delight. Uncle Ted grabbed a broom and chased them out the front door, which had been left open. “So that’s why the smoke backed up,” she heard him say.
The sweeper sat on his heels. He rocked back and forth and breathed heavily. Tayo crept closer. She was almost sure she would not be asked to go up the hole. “That was funny,” she said.
“Yes,” replied the sweeper. “It’s not unusual to see squirrels come out from the chimney as they often find it nice and cozy to build their nests. In another house that was quite old, a bag of coins tumbled down as he swept it. The grandfather had died and no one knew he had stored his collection there.”
Now ready to get on with the job, he attached a long pole to his brush. He covered the opening with a black cloth, leaving a tiny slit for his arms to reach in.
Her head cupped in her palms, her elbows resting on the floor, Tayo rocked back and forth in tune with the sweeper as he worked. The noise from the vacuum cleaner made her jump back into her hiding place.
“What’s he doing?”
“He’s using the wet vac to pick up the dust,” her uncle said.
“Are you all done?”
“Yes,” said the sweeper
Tayo crawled out of her secret space and stood up. “Would Santa be able to come down now?”
He smiled. “Even his bag of toys will make it through.”