Sunday September 19, 2021’s Smile of the Day: The Carpet Sweeper
On this Day:
In 1876, the 1st carpet sweeper was patented by Melville Bissell of Grand Rapids, Mich.
A carpet sweeper is a mechanical device for the cleaning of carpets. They were popular before the introduction of the vacuum cleaner and have been largely superseded by them. However, they continue to be used in many home and commercial applications because they are lightweight and quiet, enabling users to quickly clean small messes up from the floor without disturbing patrons, patients, babies and pets, and because they do not require electricity to operate.
A carpet sweeper typically consists of a small box. The base of the box has wheels and brushes, connected by a belt or gears or rollers. There is also a container for dirt. The arrangement is such that, when pushed along a floor, the rollers/wheels turn and force the brushes to rotate. The brushes sweep dirt and dust from the floor into the container. Carpet sweepers frequently have a height adjustment that enables them to work on different lengths of carpet, or bare floors. The sweeper usually has a long handle so that it can be pushed without bending over.
The design was patented by Melville R. Bissell of Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States, in 1876. Bissell began selling carpet sweepers in 1883. They became popular in the UK after the first Ewbank model went on sale in 1889. New powered versions were designed at the beginning of the 20th century, with rechargeable batteries and an electric motor to spin the rollers and brushes.
Carpet sweepers are still available commercially. Their legacy lives on in floor cleaning robots that have limited suction power and rely on sweeping to collect larger bits of debris from the floor. While some research models of robotic vacuums only rely on vacuum motors, models on the market such as Roomba or bObsweep invariably combine suction and sweeping.
A very early appearance in film occurs in the 1914 Charlie Chaplin film Laughing Gas, where Chaplin uses a sweeper to clean the waiting-room floor of a dentist.
Another appearance occurs in the 1989 computer adventure game The Colonel’s Bequest, where the butler, Jeeves, uses one to clean up the library and the parlor after the murders of Dr. Wilbur C. Feels and Gloria Swansong.
In Seinfeld Season 3, Episode 15, ‘The Coma’, Newman offers Kramer the use of his carpet sweeper, when Kramer is unable to access and use his vacuum (per Wikipedia).
First, a Story:
My wife told me, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you use the carpet sweeper or mop in my life.” I said, “Floors are beneath me.”
Second, a Song:
Now there aren’t many songs about carpet sweepers, but Mary Poppins has one about chimney sweeps.
“Chim Chim Cher-ee” is a song from Mary Poppins, the 1964 musical motion picture. It was originally sung by Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews, and also is featured in the 2004 Mary Poppins musical.
The song won the 1964 Academy Award for Best Original Song. In 2005, Julie Andrews included this song as part of Julie Andrews Selects Her Favorite Disney Songs.
The song was written by Robert B. Sherman & Richard M. Sherman (the “Sherman Brothers”) who also won an Oscar and a Grammy Award for Mary Poppins’ song score.
The song was inspired by one of the drawings of a chimney sweep created by Mary Poppins’ screenwriter, Don DaGradi. When asked about the drawing by the Sherman Brothers, DaGradi explained the ancient British folklore attributed to “sweeps” and how shaking hands with one could bring a person good luck. In their 1961 treatment, the Sherman Brothers had already amalgamated many of the P.L. Travers characters in the creation of “Bert”. His theme music became “Chim Chim Cher-ee”.
In addition to the “standard” version of the song which Bert sings to the children, he sings short snippets of the song to himself at various times, with different verses specific to an unfolding plot element.
The “Mentsch” music group notes some similarities with a Yiddish song written by Itsik Manger named “Vaylu”. The song also shares some sonic similarities to the Yiddish folksong, Tumbalalaika (per Wikipedia).
Mary Poppins is a 1964 American musical fantasy film directed by Robert Stevenson and produced by Walt Disney, with songs written and composed by the Sherman Brothers. The screenplay is by Bill Walsh and Don DaGradi, based on P. L. Travers’s book series Mary Poppins. The film, which combines live-action and animation, stars Julie Andrews in her feature film debut as Mary Poppins, who visits a dysfunctional family in London and employs her unique brand of lifestyle to improve the family’s dynamic. Dick Van Dyke, David Tomlinson, and Glynis Johns are featured in supporting roles. The film was shot entirely at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California, using painted London background scenes.
Mary Poppins was released on August 27, 1964, to critical acclaim and commercial success. It became the highest-grossing film of 1964 and, at the time of its release, was Disney’s highest-grossing film ever. It received a total of 13 Academy Awards nominations, including Best Picture – a record for any film released by Walt Disney Studios – and won five: Best Actress for Andrews, Best Film Editing, Best Original Music Score, Best Visual Effects, and Best Original Song for “Chim Chim Cher-ee”. In 2013, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. Mary Poppins is considered Walt Disney’s crowning live-action achievement, and is the only one of his films which earned a Best Picture nomination during his lifetime.
A sequel, Mary Poppins Returns, was released on December 19, 2018.
Here is “Chim Chim Cher-ee from the 1964 version of Mary Poppins. I hope you enjoy this!
Thought for the Day:
“All of us have moments in our lives that test our courage. Taking children into a house with a white carpet is one of them.” – Erma Bombeck
Have a great day!
Dave & Colleen
© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky