Editor's Note: Received this apropos story from a friend and GGH reader, Mr. Charles Danek, just today. Ain't life grand?
I Love My Vacuum Cleaner
by Charles Danek
When we bought our 1964 Eichler house three years ago, we needed to upgrade our vacuum cleaner. I was dreading this purchase, as I have pretty much hated every lame machine I had ever bought from Lowes or wherever... just as I was having these thoughts, while driving through my new neighborhood, I happened to pass a store that sold only vacuum cleaners... hmmm... maybe I should check out this place, and see if they have any better options?
It turns out that the store not only sold vacuum cleaners, but just one brand: Kirby vacuum cleaners. The owner of the shop, a guy named John, was very knowledgeable about all things Kirby, and within 10 minutes I was convinced that we needed one of his machines... the only problem was that a new Kirby costs about $1000, which was far more than my budget. John then suggested I consider buying a used unit... he said that while older ones may lack the latest features, all Kirby's are built to run for decades... he then went on to say that some of his customers are still using Kirby's that are forty years old or more... and in fact, he himself likes Kirby's so much, that he has collected one from every year, going back to the 1930s!
Then an idea hit me: how cool would it be to have a Kirby from 1964, the same year as my house? I asked John what he thought, and a smile came over his face... "Yeah, that would be pretty neat!" he said. I could tell that John was excited about the prospect of fulfilling my order... it was probably a different kind of request than those he normally received, but one that would allow him to put his historical knowledge of Kirby vacuum cleaners to the test. He told me to give him a week... and then a week later he called. He found me a 1964 Kirby, with all of its original attachments still in their original box, which he then rebuilt to better than new mechanical condition, and even altered so that it could take modern bags. A mere $225 later, I was the proud owner of a vintage, made in USA, 1964 Kirby vacuum cleaner!
At first my wife thought I was crazy - lets just say this is not the first time I came home with some antiquated piece of technology that I intended to employ in our modern daily existence, sometimes with mixed results. But then she tried the Kirby - what a difference from any other vacuum we had owned! The thing is built like a tank, it lights up like a Lionel train, and boy does it really suck (in a good way.) We affectionately named our Kirby "Christine" after Stephen King's 1958 Pontiac, for its menacing stance & the almost personal vendetta it has against dust bunnies.
Christine has been with us for three years now - which is longer than any other vacuum I have ever owned has lasted. But then the other day, she started sounding awful and smelling like an electrical fire. I soon realized that the bag was beyond full... oh no... had my negligence killed Christine?? Last week I took her back to see John, to see if she could be saved. It turned out that somehow Christine's roller brush had gotten jammed, and fried its bearings... for $80, she is now all fixed and back in action! Try that with a Chinese plastic Lowes special!
All in all, I wish that I could buy everything I needed from guys like John - he owns a small local business, he sells things made in USA, and is very knowledgeable & caring about what he does... he is truly an asset to the Granada Hills community. And our 1964 Kirby is a great asset to our 1964 house... here is a pic of Christine with a model from a test shoot a photographer staged at our place: