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Boy dreams of cleaning machines

5-year-old Vadim Shatilov of Medford is an authority on all things vacuum

While dinosaurs, toy cars and even video games round out the list of favorite toys for early childhood, one Medford boy has a more practical obsession — with a common household appliance.

A huge fan of vacuum cleaners since he could sit up and delight in the sound of one running and sucking up dust, 5-year-old Vadim Shatilov can rattle off dozens of vacuum cleaner brands and types of attachments without prompting.

Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Vadim Shatilov with vacuums he has collected in his Medford home.

His mom, Julia Shatilov, said the boy’s milestones are connected to different aspects of the vacuum cleaner industry and vacuum cleaner parts. A scrapbook shows family memories are tinged with an appliance store theme.

Photos of Vadim show him turning 1-year-old, grinning ear to ear while running from a loud vacuum cleaner. In later photos, the boy is in a shopping mall pointing to a vacuum display and posing with favorite models.

Family members, despite his large collection, peruse yard sales and online ads for free or cheap vacuums. The older and more unusual the better.

Vadim received two vacuum cleaners for Christmas — a bagless Hoover and a vintage Oreck — and he recently received an even older antique vacuum.

“We have a building in back of the house, and it’s just full of vacuums and vacuum-related stuff, piled high. It all started when he was only 1. He was obsessed with watching brooms and vacuums, and then it was vacuums and fans. But it’s always been about vacuum cleaners for him,” said his mother.

“He would sleep with the attachments. When he was only a year-and-a-half, he wanted to sleep with the whole vacuum cleaner … so we compromised and let him sleep with the attachment wands but with the vacuum next to his bed.”

Asked about his passion about the history of vacuum cleaners and sharing trivia facts about every model, Vadim admitted, “I just love them. I’m kind of obsessed with them I guess.”

Showing some of his favorites on a recent afternoon, Vadim is hard-pressed to choose between Rainbow and Kenmore but admits a fondness for Dyson and older Eureka models — who can resist paper bag filters inside a fabric bag?

“I just love them a lot. They’re all so cool and all of them are so different. I love to vacuum and fix them and do stuff with them,” said Vadim.

“Even when I was just born, I always liked them a lot. I like handheld ones and canisters. Just all for different reasons. Like Kenmore has really good suction, but I like the ones that have a lot of attachments. A lot of attachments is good. Some have bags. Some are bagless.”

While he’s certain of his favorites, his mom points out that it’s an evolving situation.

“It depends on the day,” she told him with a smile. “They’re all his favorite, I think.”

Not stingy about his beloved vacuum cleaners, when an elderly community member needed a vacuum recently, Vadim and his dad gave one of his vacuums a tune-up and passed it along.

Vadim’s dad, Alex Shatilov — a partner in vacuum repair and trivia — said he and his son enjoy learning about something unique and spending time together.

“He just has always liked them and doesn’t care as much about cars or toys or anything. He has so many vacuums now. It’s been his main interest since he was very small,” said the dad.

“If something is broken, we can fix it. We’ve fixed some up to give away. He likes to take them apart and go through them and clean them up. He has five he’s taken apart just to use for parts. He likes to see what’s inside and to see the engine and take things apart.”

Not many kids, the dad noted, can focus on something for months, much less years.

“Some people can show an interest in something for a few days or weeks and never think about it again, but Vadim never tires of vacuums. He loved them before he was even walking,” he said.

Asked his long-term plans, as his mother teased of storage concerns for his growing collection, Vadim tinkered with a handheld vacuum and smiled at his mom.

“If I get too many? Ummmmm, I guess, I mean, we could sell them. Maybe?” he quipped.

“No. Actually I won’t sell them. Maybe I’m just going to keep all of them forever.”

Reach freelance writer Buffy Pollock at buffyp76@yahoo.com.