The Vacuum Cleaner Man: A Welcome Visitor
Once we got through World War II and the Great Depression, some “luxury” housekeeping devices became available. A vacuum cleaner is a machine that contains an air pump. The air pump emits a suction action that picks up debris from floors and carpets.
In the fifties, a visit from the Hoover vacuum salesman was usually scheduled on a Saturday, because it was an occasion for the whole family. The adults would smile and watch the process with interest, while the children dangled their knees off the sofa and gazed wide-eyed as the machine gobbled up yards of foam. Afterwards, mom and dad would sit at the kitchen table and “crunch numbers,” in an effort to fit the weekly payments into their budget,
Many women still used a corrugated metal tub and a scrub board to wash clothes. The more fortunate homes sported had a wringer washer. This type of washer does not have a spin cycle. Rollers are situated at the top of the tub to wring the water from the laundry. The laundry was hung on a clothesline to dry; next, the articles of clothing were then placed in a starch solution and ironed. Crude wooden ironing boards had been invented, and some women still used an iron that had to be heated on the stove, but most housewives used a roll-top ironing device.
Before the vacuum cleaner was invented, cleaning floors was also difficult and time consuming. Floors were swept and the trash was removed by hand or with a dustpan. Rugs were usually taken outside and hung on a fence or banister, and pounded with a wooden stick.
James Spangler invented the first vacuum cleaner in 1908. The first vacuum cleaners were much different from the modern ones. The machines were bulky; they were bigger and weighed more than the ones we use today. This upright vacuum cleaner looked like a box on a pole. There was a bag attached to the box to collect debris. This bag was made of satin. The first vacuum cleaning machine was constructed from an electric fan, a pillowcase, and a device that looked like a soap box.