Archived Story

Home sweet home

Published 4:24pm Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Curb appeal is a term often used in the real estate market to gauge how successful a homeowner will be in finding a buyer for his or her property.

A freshly painted house surrounded by a green island of plush, neatly trimmed lawn is naturally going to get closer looks than one that has been thrown under the bus. Not to be overlooked is the curb appeal the properties on either side and across the street bring to the table.

The curb appeal of a piece of property is not something that’s limited to a gated suburban community filled with million dollar homes. It existed 75 years ago when a majority of Alabama’s families lived in farm houses scattered along dirt roads, separated a mile or more by rolling hills and plowed fields.

I remember well how much pride my family, especially my mother, took in how our property looked to other folks who happened to pass by.

The front yard was the apple of her eye and never a Sunday came when it wasn’t swept clean with a brush broom.

Us kids were privileged to use the yard as a playground during the week. Iron posts were driven into the ground for horseshoes. Circles were made in the sandy soil for marble games and blocks were drawn for hopscotch. A huge water oak tree with multiple low-hanging limps shaded more than half the yard and provided a perfect place to go play when we tired of ground games.

The games were suspended about mid-afternoon on Saturday when our mother instructed us to go fetch the brush broom and sweep the yard. Not a sprig of grass, or a leaf or a footprint could be left showing when the job was finished – nothing but the faint marks of the broom’s bristles.

Guard duty was required to keep it that way for the remainder of the day, especially during the late afternoon when we fed grain to our yard chickens. Even though their domain was a side yard where grass was permitted to grow, one or two would stray from the flock and head in the direction of the front yard. That’s when we had to run and cut them off and shoo them away.

A compliment from Sunday’s after-church company was all it took to satisfy mother and keep the yard-sweeping practice alive.

“The good job you did sweeping the yard didn’t go unnoticed,” she’d say. “You boys should be proud of yourselves.”

Clif Knight is a staff writer for the Hartselle Enquirer.

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