| The Great American |
Well, back in May 2001 when Rich Maher, Mark Tomey and Yours Truly gathered for the first phase of "The Great American Garage Clean-up" (see www.1377731.com/cleanup), the task just proved to be too daunting for three people to complete in one day. There were SO MANY boxes of parts, attachments, tools, and odds-and-ends to go through, that finishing the job had to be left to a future date.
That day finally came in mid-January 2002 when Rich and Mark came back, joined
this time by Kyle Mathews of Eagle Rock, California; Scott Onasch of Minneapolis,
Minnesota who was out here on vacation and got rooked into coming over to help!;
and, a surprise guest, Steve [darn--I never did get his last name!] of Chicago,
Illinois! Boy, was Scott ever surprised as they are old phone chums from way back
but had never met in person.
Thankfully, the Weatherman was on our side and we had a beautiful, clear, sunny
day for our task. It wasn't too warm, about 68 degrees, which was a good thing
as it made the working conditions pleasant.
The fun began in the late morning with donuts and coffee and a tour of my collection, including some machines that I brought out for Show-and-tell: The Lewyt 44 in its Treasure Chest; a near-mint Electrolux LX in the chest; an Air-way Mark II; Electrolux Hospital G; Canadian Electroluxes Z-89 and Z-54; Kirby Legend II with the optional narrower, old-style (Sanitronic) rug nozzle; Kirby 561; and Kirby 517.
I handed out a couple of fun surprises to my guests -- each one, including myself, now has a "N.O.S." vintage (early '50s) Compact decal that would have been affixed to the body of the machine --- just so all of us would have a special souvenir of the day's fun and work. I happened to have exactly six of these left from a stash that Bob Taber (Bob, oh Bob, where are you??!) gave me some years ago.
Then, we had a raffle-drawing for some goodies -- Compact salt and pepper
shakers; a miniature Hoover Constellation tape measure; Electrolux mothballs can
and coin bank (not the miniature sweeper type, but a glass jar with the Electrolux
logo, salvaged from a non-functional sprayer); an Electrolux AF turbo tool set;
and, the grand prize, a "Little Wonder" hand vac from the 1920s that I cleaned
up and polished for the occasion. (Stan Kann likes to say, that sweeper got its
name because it's "A Little Wonder that it picks anything up!") None of these
prizes would be high-dollar ebay items, to be sure, it was all just for fun and
a few silly laughs.
We then toured the "rocket shop and atomic bomb" wing of my "museum" (hanging from the wall of my bedroom!) and played with the Fairfax's kludgy floor polisher attachment. (The Fairfax is a gorgeously styled machine, and has good suction, but that floor polisher bit is for the birds!)
Finally, after the fun part of the day, we went out and tackled the garage. Actually, this time the work went pretty quickly. First, there was only one garage and not two; and second, there were six busy bees out there instead of just three of us! We were able to do the work at a fairly leisurely pace, taking time out to examine unearthed treasures, or to start building up little mountains of take-home goodies.
We stopped mid-afternoon for a lunch break of pizza, hot wings and salad,
and then continued until, hm, about 5 p.m. I guess, when dusk began to fall and
it started to get a bit chilly.
We made another huge dent in the mountains of stuff, between what the boys
took with them and what I was able to dispose of, but there is still a lot of
disposing to be done as we didn't get to it all. Even with six sets of busy hands,
there was just SO MUCH stuff out there... *sigh*
The last part of the task is something I will have to do on my own -- going
through about 15 boxes of parts to sort out what I want to keep and what I don't;
sorting through a hundred-or-so hoses; picking through a huge shelf-full (about
15 ft wide x 4 ft deep and piled about 5 ft high) of Kirby motor parts and carcasses;
as well as setting up my tools and workbench again so I can actually do some repair
and restoration work out there.
After the hard work, we convened inside to take a break and I gave the boys
a brief theremin recital. Then we got cleaned up and went out to dinner at a fabulous
Italian restaurant called Palermo's. (sp??) I had never eaten there before and
had a great dinner -- and thanks, guys, for being so nice to pick up my dinner
tab for me! What a bunch of sweeties! :)
"Why have you accumulated so much stuff?" a wise person may well ask.
Well, I unfortunately did inherit the
"pack rat gene" from my mother and grandmother. It's
very hard to resist the temptation to hold onto every
single sweeper, wheel, handle, nozzle, hose, cord,
switch, screw, spring, what-EVER...fearing I'll never
find another. Well, after seeing the three mounds of
Electrolux parts, I realized that I really had overdone
it on the accumulating. (I mean, did I really need to
save, like, thirty XXX rug tools?!)
Also, part of saving all this stuff was for the sake of altruism: I was holding
onto this vintage inventory for other people who might want spare parts or what-have-you, but that
really has not proven to be a really critical thing. I mean, people, for the most
part, haven't seemed able (or willing) to come out here to look for stuff they
might want or need, and sending stuff out one cord or one wheel at a time would
just be too time-consuming ----- so there it sat... year after year after year.
At that rate, the stockpile hasn't been diminishing very much. It really came time to take some drastic action.
As I said in the narrative of part 1, it just got to be a huge burden -- physically
and mentally -- to keep hoarding all this stuff. The thought of moving and having
to schlep all this stuff to a new place -- or have to deal with just dumping it
-- the next time I move to a new place, really brought on a reality check.
Anyway, bla bla bla (I also inherited the "Gift of Gab" gene!), following are some
photos from the day of fun.
But first, let me end this blab fest by once again thanking
all the guys who came out to help me with this huge task. It really was a tremendous
help to me and I do appreciate so very much -- more than you know -- that you
all were willing to give up a Saturday to do this. I hope the few little goodies
you were able to take with you -- along with the fun we had together -- made the
(Oh, and by the way Roger, I do still have your Hamilton Beach with the purple bag --- the guys made me promise to send it to you within the next three months ... feel free to nag!!)