Sunday, October 28, 2012


I arrived at the one and only sale near home on Friday to find they hadn’t opened up yet. A raggedy line of people filled the driveway, sandwiched between some furniture under a garden canopy and a table full of bedding and other textiles. I took my place at the end of the line, scanning what I could see on the driveway, and my bargain antenna began to vibrate wildly.

At the end of the table of linens, sitting on the drive, were two older vacuum cleaners. Both were Electroluxes, and one was a Silverado.

Now, if you’re not a vacuum aficionado (which might seem like an oxymoron, but more on that in a moment) you might not understand my excitement. If you’ve never had one of these older Electrolux vacuums, well my dear, you just have never vacuumed!

When my husband went off to college in the late Sixties, his mother had her old Electrolux, which she’d bought in the late Forties, reconditioned for him. It was probably this model.

Electrolux Model 30 (XXX) Vacuum Cleaner

My guess is that he was the only freshman guy who arrived at the dorm with his own vacuum – and used it! A few years later we married and continued to use it, until it finally died in about 1983. His mother always loved to tell the story of him calling her up to ask if it might still be under warranty.

Not long after this I came home from work one day to be greeted with the news that he had bought a brand new Electrolux that day from a door-to-door salesman.


Yes, I’m so old I can remember those! It was not inexpensive, but by gosh it was a Silverado – with a name like that it just had to be classy. And it was not only classy, it worked even better than the old one. Believe me, with all the furry pets we’ve had over the years, we gave it a workout.

Fast forward to 2011, nearly 30 years later, and the Silverado began to fail us. Still sucked up stuff like a champ – if it came on. We sadly had to choose between spending a significant amount of money to repair it, or buy a new vacuum. After some research, we decided to buy new and a few days later got our bagless model Electrolux. Which has been quite disappointing. Works okay on carpet, but Steven claims it will hardly pick up a grain of rice off the smooth kitchen floor. And our entire downstairs is laminate. (Yes, he usually is the one who vacuums.) So less than a week ago he told me he’d like to get the old Silverado repaired.

Hence the antenna going boingggg! I looked around the crowd furtively to see if anyone else was showing any interest in the vacuums, but I couldn’t tell. When the garage doors rolled up, I scooted over to the lady at the money table. “Do the old vacuums work?” I inquired. She assured me that her husband had checked them out and they were fine. “Could I plug the Silverado in and see how well it sucks?” We spied an electrical outlet on the wall behind her, and I fetched the machine in. She plugged it in and I turned it on. It immediately grabbed hold of a plastic bag full of Hallowe’en decorations and was not going to let go without a fight. We both nodded. “I’ll take it!”


When I got home I told Steven I had a present for him. This is an announcement that can presage absolutely anything, that being the nature of garaging. He was pleased, and set about seeing which attachments worked best. Our old carpet attachment was better, the new one’s upholstery brush is primo. Definitely the hose we had was better, because we had replaced it a couple of years ago. (Little known vacuuming fact: if your machine seems to be losing power, try replacing the hose. They get leaky over time and it can make a huge difference.) While he was doing that, I went online to see how much of a bargain I’d gotten. Answer: I did very well. Paid ten bucks for it, and these babies sell on eBay for up to a couple of hundred bucks. Then I started looking at some of the other websites and discovered there is a whole world of – yes – vacuum aficionados! Found a discussion forum where a bunch of good old boys were waxing rhapsodic about their Silverados. It was a lot like the old-car guys and their detailed discussions of fixing up their vehicles.

I kept reading, and started thinking maybe I should have bought the older machine there on the driveway as well. At this site on collectible vacuums (who knew!) I found this info:

The machine can be configured to expel (blow out) air as well as impel (suck in). For extra money, you could buy a number of air-powered devices such as a tire inflator, a paint sprayer or a crop sprayer. To tell the truth, I have never seen an Electrolux in the garden.... The "Expel" tools that I own are the Floor polisher, the Wax Sprayer, the Atomizer, and the Moth Sprayer. The floor polisher uses the current of air to turn a turbine. 

I really love the Internet!

The only other item I found on Friday won’t be used as much as the new/old Silverado, but it’s one of those practical items that’s perfect for its occasional use: a canning jar lifter.


No more trying to grab hot jars of tomato chutney out of the pressure cooker with an inadequate pair of tongs!

Saturday brought more rain, only a couple of sales, and no purchases. But I was glad I went out, because I heard a good story, and it fits perfectly into the theme of practicality. It seems the folks having the sale used to live down the block, in a one story house. This house was two stories, and the lady living there needed to find a single-level home. And since they liked each other’s houses, they simply traded!

So that was my pragmatic weekend. There’s only one snag to the saga of the new/old Electrolux: I think it’s probably out of warranty already.



  1. My Nana had one of those Electrolux like in the 1st picture. She still had it in the 90's when we moved her to my Mom's house. I think it must have gone in the garage sale we had. Thanks for the memories!

  2. Replies
    1. The best deal of all is having the hubs do the vacuuming! ;o)

  3. I got a chance to use an Electrolux when I was a nanny 3 summers running in the 70's! It really sucked, but in a good way!

  4. My family had an Electrolux like the first also. This explains so much about Steven!

    1. We still had that vacuum when we first met you, so that means we now have a 4-vacuum friendship!

  5. your new vacuum is almost pretty enough to display on the hearth of your Mid Century Modern! Fewer sales are OK as long as they are QUALITY sales....decluttering down on a low-garage sale diet, but did manage to pick up an obscure Angels bobble head for Evan for Xmas. sacks and sacks to goodwill. would be a super yard sale if I had the time....

  6. Funny about your husband taking a vacuum off to school...when I was living in the dorms at my school, they had a few of those Electrolux canister vacs that you could borrow to clean your room. They looked just like that first one, and this was in 1993!

    We now have a 1990s version of that electrolux canister, and it still works like a champ!


I really love your comments. Thanks for coming along on my thrifty adventures!

Pin It button on image hover