vac2 “Good morning madam, show me your dirt”. We all have it. Some more than others. Imagine someone actually offering to see your dirt. If he appears to be an obnoxious, sly-looking pervert with a dirt fetish, close the door as quick as you can. However, if he is holding what appears to be a vacuum cleaner, invite him in for coffee and cleaning.

The Jewel Tea Company and Fuller Brush Company employed young men to canvas door to door offering to clean your house and hopefully sell you the equipment to do it. I purchased a Kirby vacuum cleaner about sixty-four years ago after firmly spurning it from the Jewel Tea man. That was before he went right ahead and cleaned a visible path through the center of my living room, clearing dust, dog and cat hair, and unmentionable debris to reveal a perfectly clean wall-to-wall carpet.


My Kirby vacuum cleaner moved several times along with the rest of our family for many years. I don’t remember what actually killed it, but it did eventually die, and gave way to several other brands of vacuum cleaner, none with the precision, style, and efficiency, though not the weight and cost of the Kirby vacuum cleaner. Today’s models sell for about $1200, and even Charlie’s hair loss is not worth that much brass.

Segue through time and place, and changes of generation. Children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and who knows how many generations of furry friends have romped through our various homes through the years and each have left remnants of their existence.

I am generally able to forestall an embarrassing situation, but when your friends begin asking for a towel to cover the sofa before they will sit on it, it’s time to recognize that the resident brown and white dog is depositing a great deal of his hair throughout the house. Charlie doesn’t simply walk through a room, he chooses to perform his Jack Russell gymnastics on the red Bokhara and dark Persian carpets as he goes from room to room.


My daughter purchased a new vacuum cleaner which promised to remove pet hair, so we purchased the same one. It did not perform as promised, so we gave it away. Since we seemed to be in the vacuum buying mode, we continued looking and researching for the perfect machine to suit our purpose. Our old vacuum was relegated to the garage rug.

Yellow Vac This is the beautiful new yellow vacuum cleaner which has come to live with us, and which promises to inhale most of the white hair which is evidence of the dance of the white dog.

The only problem is that this new acquisition has given way to a sudden surge of cleaning activity of all sorts. I found myself at midnight last night wondering what cleaning job I could accomplish today. Instead we went out and had an ice cream sundae.

Author: kaytisweetlandrasmussen83

I am a retired fine arts teacher, sculptor/painter, writer, and a native Californian. I love my family,dogs, horses, movies, reading and music, probably in that order. I have been married forever to a very nice man who is nice to old ladies, dogs and children.


  1. I had a Kirby once, and it was a dream machine, for sure. Somewhere along the line it went kaput, but I can’t remember when or where. Suddenly, it just wasn’t there. Now, I’ve got a Hoover that does well enough that I’ll just keep it until it kicks the bucket.

    My problem is the opposite of yours. I have a white sofa, and a calico kitty who likes to shed her brown and black hair on its pillows. I was relieved the first time I noticed it to see that it wasn’t actually dirty — just furry. I actually use one of those velcro-like lint brushes to get her hair off pillows and chair seats. It works very well.

    Jewel Tea. Oh, my. Mom had quite a collection of their Autumn Leaf pattern at one time. Now, I just have a pitcher, a soufflĂ© dish and a covered casserole as mementos. I might have kept more, but I don’t much like the pattern. I’m more fond of Universal Cambridge’s Bittersweet pattern — that was Grandma’s.


  2. It sounds as if the Kirby simply decides to move on with no forwarding address.

    I have a small white settee in the parlor but Charlie simply knocks all the pillows off and then curls up on Grandma Nellie’s chair in that room. Grandmas was not a dog lover. I just bought a Furminator to brush Charlie with and it is working famously. They have them for kitties too.

    I also had the Autumn Leaf pitcher! It must have left with the Kirby. I don’t remember rif I had any other pieces. Those door-to-door fellows were pretty amazing. We recently saw an old movie called “Door To Door” with William Macy and which showed just how difficult their job was. A Metrolpolitan Life executive years ago told me that he would hire a Fuller Brush man immediately because they were such great salesmen.

    I am using a Fuller Brush dust mop which must be 45 years old if its a day! Still does a good job.


  3. What a sweet vignette, Kayti. Seems incredible now to think of men going door to door to sell vacuum cleaners. There’s something about the idea of vacuum cleaners … I have fantasies of buying some perfect machine that performs miracles though not necessarily merely with dirt and dust. I had an interesting conversation with someone a few months ago who told me all about her Roomba, a vacuum cleaning robot. She was contending with pet hair plus the long hair of three daughters.


  4. I spoke with a man from Melbourne today at the hardware store. He had not heard of Jewel Tea or Fuller Brush, but said there used to be another company which had door to door men. Probably some time ago. I’ve heard of the Roomba—-sounds like a dance partner. There was a an ad for small robots on TV maybe that is one of them. The hospital has robots which go up and down the halls. I didn’t see any on my recent visits though.


    1. Yes, we didn’t have the Fuller Brush man, we had the Godfrey’s man or The Man From Godfreys. My fantasies are of the Dyson brand, by a UK man called James Dyson who made the idea of owning his vacuum cleaner sexy.


  5. When mother entertained the Electrolux man I felt an unwanted intruder. That feeling persists and accounts for my collection of deceased lawn mowers.


    1. I know the feeling. I feel like an unwanted intruder in the lawn mower department. I’m trying to get the good doctor to feel that way too. He hired a gardener and then fired him the first day he came, so he hired another. Tomorrow is his 88th birthday, and I can’t keep him away from his lawn mower! The new gardener may come next week.


      1. Congratulations to Dr Advice. I dare say he will mow the lawn to celebrate. May he have many more Happy Mowing Years to come !


      2. Dr. Advice has had a lovely 88th birthday today thanks to very nice people like you who have either written or telephoned to extend greetings. I di dnot allow him to rev up the lawn mower today since it is like a National holiday Maybe tomorrow.


  6. We have a darling Dyson vacuum which sucks up all of Dinah’s hair without complaint. Happy Birthday to Dr. Advice.
    And I love your sculpture. I’d like to buy more of it!


  7. We have a good vacuum cleaner but for dog hair the best solution was a tiled floor. We ripped out the wall to wall carpet. Until Jack Russells are trained to vacuum, I will advice all owners to change to tiles. H. refuses to even look at a vacuum cleaner. ( “I make the bed and look after the house, you vacuum,” she says with great confidence and determination. I am the Godfrey man!


    1. H.Is very smart. We have had tile floors for years. The ravages of kids, dogs and whatever, would have worn out several wall to wall carpets. I also have a Furninator brush which really helps all that JRT hair. Goodbye to old type brushes, this is the ticket.


  8. I bought my first and last set of World Book Encyclopedias in 1964 from an irresistible cutie in Texas. I never read them but they followed me around for 10 years. I also remember the Cutco Cutlery door to door man of the 50s. I think I had a set of those too. Kirby Vacuums were ubiquitous and present at every relative’s house I can remember.


  9. Did you ever read all those encyclopedia? I bought a set at a garage sale at a friend’s mother’s house years ago just to fill up the bookcase! They were old even then and haven’t improved much. We are now so overloaded with books all the shelves in the garage are filled as well. I don’t remember Cutco Cutlery, but I loved the Kirby.


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