Vacuum Cleaner Museum

When we planned our trip to visit Andrew and Lindy, I checked the Internet for interesting things to do along the way. That’s how I found the Vacuum Cleaner Museum in St. James, Missouri.

I wanted to stop just because it was silly, but I had a hard time convincing my wife. It turned out to be really interesting, and Sally even wants to go back!

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The woman at the desk said we could go through on our own or get a tour from her. We opted for the tour, and it was fun. The museum is set up as a series of rooms, each featuring vacuums, accessories and advertisements from a particular decade.

The 1910s, with several models that aren’t electric. Suction is created by turning a crank or pumping the canister.

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The sign on the wall asks why vacuums have headlights. The answer: because a lot of houses didn’t have outlets, so vacuums were powered by unscrewing light bulbs and screwing the vacuum cord into the light socket. Therefore, no light — therefore, headlights.

The woman in the advertisement is demonstrating.

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Here’s one of those vacuums, with an adapter.

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The 1920s. The vacuum on the right could be reversed to make the suction draw through the handle so you could lift it to reach along the ceiling. It also had an accessory that you could attach to your pillow. It would suck out the feathers and clean and fluff them. You could then reverse it to blow the feathers back in.

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The 1930s and 40s

“I want $4.50, and I want it now!”

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The 1950s. Our guide kept referring to the “hassocks,” the boxes built to hold accessories but made to look like furniture. But she had us confused for a bit because she kept pronouncing it as “has socks.”

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The 1960s

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The first wet-vac. It didn’t last long because it wasn’t grounded and people kept getting shocked.

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The 1970s

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There were more modern ones too, but we didn’t find them as interesting. We had to listen to a short sales pitch at the end, of course, but we didn’t mind. The woman showed us one vacuum that could sense dirt. When the carpet was clean, the headlights would turn off. It also had a coating that looked copper, green or red, depending on the light. It retailed for $1,500. We didn’t buy one.

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