|Home -> The Press in the Forest -> The Long Ago -> Chapter 7|
Come to think of it, the Old Folks never made such a fuss about flies as we make nowadays. You cannot pick up a magazine without running plump into an article on the deadly housefly - with pictures of him magnified until he looks like the old million-toed, barrel-eyed, spike-tailed dragon of your boyhood mince-pie dreams. The first two pages convince you that the human race is doomed to extermination within eighteen months by the housefly route!
Grandmother never resorted to very drastic measures. The most violent thing she ever did was to get little Annie, Bridget-the-housewoman's Annie, to help her chase them out. They went from room to room periodically (when flies became too numerous), each armed with an old sawed-off broom-handle on which were tacked long cloth streamers - a sort of cat-o'-nine-tails effect, only with about a score or more of tails. After herding the blue-bottles and all their kith and kin into a fairly compact bunch at the door, little Annie opened the screen and grandmother drove them out - and that's all there was to it.
Another favorite device (particularly in the dining-room and kitchen), was the "fly-gallery" - a wonderful array of multicolored tissue-paper festooned artistically from the ceiling or around the gas-pipes to lure or induce the fly into moments of inactivity. There was no extermination in this device - it was purely preventive in its function - the idea being that since there must be fly-specks, better to mass them as much as possible on places where they would show the least and could be removed the easiest when sufficiently accumulated.
But the greatest ounce-of-prevention was the screen hemisphere. Gee! I haven't thought of that thing for years, have you? Of course you remember it - absolutely fly-proof - one clapped over the butter, another over the crackerbowl, another over the sugar!
And say! I almost forgot! . . . (Yes, I know you were just going to speak of it!) . . . That conical screen fly-trap where the flies see something good inside, crawl up to the top and then over and in - and then can't get out - but just buzz and buzz and buzz - and make a lot of fuss about it - bluebottles and all - no respecter of persons - and when it gets full of the quick and dead in flydom, Bridget takes it out in the back yard and dumps it. Very simple . . . clean, peaceful, effective.
My, My! But it's a far cry back to those days, isn't it? And wouldn't you like right this minute to sneak into the cool, curtain-down, ever-so-quiet dining-room again . . . and nose around to see if anything edible bad been overlooked - and see one of those dear old round fly-screens guarding the sugar!