I work with a lot of elderly artists. As such, death and dying unfortunately are an ever present part of my life. I don’t think that I will ever get use to loosing people who have shared their stories and talents with me…I guess that is the way it should be. While looking up his address today, I saw that Elmer Schlensker had passed way last March at 81 years old.
Elmer Schlensker was a fourth generation broom maker from Milltown, Indiana. As a child he helped sew the broom that his father made. However, Elmer had never made a complete broom, until many years after his father passed away. A coordinator at the Lanesville Festival approached Elmer to demonstrate the event, when the broom maker who usually demonstrated at the event fell ill. After much encouragement, Elmer went home and took several of his father’s old brooms apart to remind him how they were made. Through trial and error, he taught himself to make brooms.
Elmer used the broom making equipment that his inherited from his father. His father always placed a label on each of his brooms, which looked like a broom maker’s coat of arms; not having these old labels, Elmer would cut rural pictures out of Country Magazines to label his ready-made heirlooms. When he made a broom for a friend or a local business, he would sometimes print a label on his computer with a picture of local landmarks.
Elmer continued to work in the basement of his home making a few brooms each week and looking forward to the Lanesville Festival each September. I am sure he was missed this year at Lanesville. He taught his daughter how to make brooms, and hoped that she might take it up when she gets old enough to retire. He also took great pride in the fact that his grandson, the sixth generation, had made a broom.
Rest in peace Elmer