StoryCorps: A Story Of Love, Passion — And Vacuum Cleaners On their first date, Tom Gasko and his husband, Donnie Pedrola, talked for hours about vacuum designs. "Most people aren't that passionate about something," Pedrola tells Gasko at StoryCorps.
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'You Get Swept Up': A Story Of Love, Passion — And Vacuum Cleaners

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'You Get Swept Up': A Story Of Love, Passion — And Vacuum Cleaners

'You Get Swept Up': A Story Of Love, Passion — And Vacuum Cleaners

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NOEL KING, HOST:

Today on StoryCorps, we have a love story that sucks. Tom Gasko is a vacuum cleaner repairman who also collects vacuums. He has hundreds of them. He displays them in a vacuum cleaner museum in a strip mall in Rolla, Mo. He came to StoryCorps with his husband, Donnie Pedrola.

DONNIE PEDROLA: Do you remember first becoming captivated by vacuum cleaners?

TOM GASKO: My very first memory of the vacuum would have been my mother's. I would drag that thing out. And so many times, I had nothing left to clean. I learned to read from my mother's vacuum cleaner instruction book. That was the book I wanted her to read to me. And I was never shy about it. I would actually go up to people, and I would say, if you ever have a problem with your vacuum cleaner, I can help you with it.

Well, a lady down the street had a clog in the hose of her Electrolux. I remember she called my mother, and my mother told me to go down there and see if I could help her with it. So I put the hose on the exhaust end of this machine and out pops a huge pair of panties (laughter). I held them up and she said, oh, my gosh, I can't believe those were in there. And I remember saying to her, I can't believe they were in there either.

PEDROLA: (Laughter).

GASKO: The night you came over for our very first date, I think we probably talked for four or five hours about the different designs of vacuums. I would eventually start showing you the old ones that were in the garage. That's when you thought I was crazy.

PEDROLA: Definitely. I had never heard of anybody collecting vacuums before. And a collection to me is 50, 60, not 600, 700.

GASKO: Has my collecting vacuums ever been a problem in our relationship?

PEDROLA: No, there's never been a problem. Sometimes the garage gets a little excess, and it drives me nuts.

GASKO: But they're special machines. They're the...

PEDROLA: No, they've never been a problem.

GASKO: OK.

PEDROLA: Most people aren't that passionate about something. My life is totally different now. I see things differently. I view people differently. You get so excited about the simplest things.

GASKO: And you get swept up into it. And the day that I pass, you know, after you cremate me, I want you to take my favorite vacuum - the Airway - and I want you to vacuum my ashes up into it. I want to spend eternity in that Airway vacuum cleaner (laughter).

PEDROLA: OK. 'Cause you know I love you.

GASKO: Well, and you never met anybody in your life like me.

PEDROLA: Agreed.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: That was Donnie Pedrola and Tom Gasko at StoryCorps in Rolla, Mo., discussing their love of vacuums and of one another. That interview will be archived along with hundreds of thousands more at the Library of Congress.

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