Lakewood Life, 50 Years Ago... Grandmother's Hoover Constellation Vacuum Cleaner

Grandmother's Hoover...Ready to clean the family car again! (Photo by Gary Rice)

Living in 1950's America, air power and the space race were two highly significant areas of public interest, due mostly to the Cold War between the West and Communism. When WWII ended in 1945 with the birth of the Atomic Age, it was clearly understood by anyone who truly cared, that air power had played a highly dominant role in winning that war. At the same time, the explosion of rocketry and guided missile technology meant that every town and city worldwide could suddenly find itself on a front line of a new, sudden, and devastating world-wide war. Communism was competing for world-wide domination and small revolutionary wars were springing up all over the world.

Facing the very real possibility that they could be atomized at a moment's notice, citizens looked to their governments to prepare fallout shelters in public buildings. People even constructed them in the backyards of their private homes. Films like "Duck and Cover" instructed children to crawl under their desks and stay away from windows, if an atom bomb hit nearby.

At the same time, many consumer products began to echo the technologies that were being developed for the air and space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. Automobiles developed aircraft or rocket-shaped fins, and many home appliances, from toasters to tea pots, began to show futuristic space-age designs.

One such product was the Hoover Constellation vacuum cleaner. This amazing and highly popular satellite-shaped product, originally created in the early 1950's by that (formerly) Canton, Ohio based company, reportedly stayed in Hoover's line for around a quarter-century, and was even briefly reproduced again a few years ago. Closely resembling a spacecraft, or perhaps even a hypothetical Unidentified Flying Object, (UFO) this round-tank vacuum cleaner actually DID fly, or rather float, on a cushion of air like a mini-hovercraft. The little lady of the house (You could get away with saying such things back then!) could then almost effortlessly move about the home with that circular canister floating along behind her.

Grandmother's little "Connie" was transported up to Lakewood from Alabama, when she came up here to live near us. On Grandmother's passing, I used little "Connie" for awhile as a car vac, until another vacuum came along. At that point, "Connie" went out with the trash. Fortunately, as it turned out, a neighbor asked about her, and away little "Connie" went; recycled out to his own garage, where she was used as his own car vac for the next 25 years... until he also upgraded to another vacuum; at which point, "Connie" came back home to me! Even though little "Connie" is around 50 years old, missing her handle, and most of her original tools, she still tries to float like a cloud at least, and she still picks up dirt like a dream!

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Volume 9, Issue 20, Posted 8:12 PM, 10.03.2013