Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Hoge Brush Company Files, Vol. 10

Click to enlarge

[Note: For background on the "Hoge Brush Company Files" series, click here; to see all the entries in the series so far, click here.]

I like curling — the funny sport with the rocks and the brooms. Several years ago I wrote an article about my first curling experience, and I've continued to play now that curling is available in Brooklyn, where I live. (Our local curling club even has its own pin.) So I was really pleased to see that the Hoge Brush Company files included a letter from a Saskatchewan producer of curling brooms, called the Broom-Craft Co.

Unfortunately, the letter is a sad one, as it concerns the death of one of Broom-Craft's sales representatives. Still, the letter reads almost like a testimonial to curling instead of a death notification:

He passed away last evening in a Curling Game. Cliff had a very bad heart and was told not to over-exercise, but it was his game. His two boys were with him and I guess Cliff just swept too furiously. He fell on the ice and died immediately. I don't think Cliff would have asked to leave in any other way.

It's not clear if Cliff was using the Skipper — the Broom-Craft product touted at the bottom of the letterhead — when he "swept too furiously," although that seems like a reasonable assumption.

The letter's second paragraph has an odd, dreamy tone — "Will get them shipped some day, I guess." Unusual for a business letter, but rather charming.

As it happens, the Hoge Brush Company files include a second letter from Broom-Craft, this one dated about a year and a half after the first one. They had redesigned their letterhead to promote several broom models in addition to the Skipper (click to enlarge):

Both letters are signed "Jim," so I'm assuming they're from the same person. Jim's tone remains somewhat breezy (it appears to have been his nature), although the underlined "fifteen minute" reference in the first sentence is a bit pointed. Can't tell if that was meant to poke fun at himself, or at Hoge exec Carl Werheim (the addressee), or if Jim was genuinely pissed off that he didn't get to have a longer visit.

As far as I can tell, the Broom-Craft Co. is no longer in business. By odd coincidence, the town in which they operated — Regina, Saskatchewan — is currently home to a "witchcraft supply shop" called the Broom Closet, which makes for some interesting search results when one tries to Google "Broom-Craft Regina." It's not clear whether the Skipper or any other curling brooms can double as witches' brooms, but I'd like to think that Jim would have taken a characteristically affable approach to such a client.

(My continued thanks to Joanna and David Zwiep for sharing the Hoge Brush Company letters with me.)

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