The Great American
Garage Clean-up —
The Sequel!!

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, 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 work worthwhile.

(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!!)




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