"Vacuum Boy" Has Unusual Passion

One hundred years ago this year, a department store janitor named Murray Spangler took a tin soap box, a fan, a pillow case and a broom handle and invented what he called the "suction sweeper." The vacuum cleaner was born. And soon, every kid wanted one. Well … not every kid.

To most 12-year-olds, vacuuming is about as appealing as algebra. But to Kyle Krichbaum of Adrian, Mich., it's pure joy.

"Some people like baseball better than football," Kyle says. In fact, he tells CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman in this week's Assignment America that he likes vacuums better than "everything."

Kyle's mom, MaryLynn, says the fire's been burning since before he could say "Hoover."

"When Kyle was a baby in his little baby seat and I'd be vacuuming, he would just be mesmerized by the vacuum and he would just; he'd follow it everywhere," she says.

Kyle got his first vacuum at age 1, dressed up as a Dirt Devil for Halloween at 2, and, as a former teacher recalls, was vacuuming during school recess at age 6.

"It's not that he didn't like recess. He just preferred to stay inside vacuuming," he says. "He would go down and, actually, one day vacuum one side of the room, the next day vacuum the other side. [He'd] also vacuum the principal's office — anywhere he could vacuum."

Today, Kyle has 165 vacuums. He uses almost all of them, vacuuming his own house up to five times a day.

"I have to admit this is one of my favorites," Kyle says as he shows off one model. "It is in absolute mint condition and it's very pretty how the bag is like that shape. It's a slow starter, but it still runs perfect," he says of another.

His sweepers fill up almost every room in his house with one exception: his older sister Michelle's.

"He's constantly vacuuming," she says. "That's all I hear. It's always loud in my house. I'm just like why, why, why, why, why, why? I don't understand"

Kyle is so obsessed he had Hartmancall his parents to find out what vacuum he grew up with.

"They had a J.C. Penney at one time, Hartman says. Kyle replies, "A Penncrest? Whoa!"

Apparently that particular Penncrests are really rare; only one other is known to exist.

"What'd you do with it?" Hartman asked his parents. "You threw it out?" Kyle banged his head.

There went $2,000. But Kyle is making plenty of pocket change repairing his neighbors' vacuums and cleaning their carpets. Of course, everything he makes goes into buying more vacuums.

So when is enough enough?

"My parents say that all the time," he said. "When I go off to college, my parents say they're gonna have a big vacuum sale!

Hartmansays Kyle is intent on creating the first soundless vacuum, something that would be a boon to older sisters everywhere.

  • Michelle Singer

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