Elmer Schlenker’s Brooms

Elmer-at-Broom-Machine
Elmer Schlensker making a broom on the same machine his father used.

One of the artists, I mention in passing in my book is Elmer Schlensker, who was a fourth generation broom maker from Milltown, Indiana. As a child he helped his father by sewing or stitching brooms together. However, Elmer had never made a complete broom, until the coordinator at the Lanesville Festival approached him about demonstrating at her event. 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. Broom making became an important part of his retirement identity. Making brooms allowed him to stay active, make meaningful connections with family and friends, while providing him with an opportunity to tell others about his father and his life growing up in Southern Indiana.