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1941::The Leaf Picker-Upper

Updated: Jul 7, 2023

A manly machine that did everything but toast the marshmallows.

1941::The Leaf Picker-Upper

"1941::Demonstration of the Leaf Picker-Upper"

Clip: Times Colonist (1941)

Victoria, British Columbia

In 2019, Elon Musk tweeted that his next invention would be a quiet leaf blower. Well, we're still waiting for that to happen. But back in 1933, the first sign of a leaf blower was actually a leaf sucker. No photograph of the machine exists, but news of its invention got around. This sparked the creation of other lawn machines by garage inventors. In 1941, The Leaf Picker-Upper was one such invention. It was developed in Wyoming by a man who had worked off the idea presented in the newspaper several years earlier. The photograph of his demonstration reached newspapers across the continent, but the machine was never marketed. The inventor said that he had put together his leaf-sucking machine with some old chicken wire, an old truck, an old motor, an old fan, an old pipe and old lots-of-things. The machine sucked the leaves into a tube where several grinding wheels mashed them and spouted them into a catcher. The pulverized material was then used as fertilizer. It did everything but toast the marshmallows! Its newspaper presentation garnered much attention and inspired a generation to further develop gardening machines.

1947::The Triple Duty Gadget

"1947::The Triple Duty Gadget"

Clip: Kansas City Star (1947)

Kansas City, Kansas

In the years that followed, more all-in-one machines began to appear. The Triple Duty Gadget was one such machine. It was a gas-powered leaf sucker, snow blower and grass cutter all-in-one. It was also reasonably priced and more compact than the massive Leaf Picker-Upper. Its revolving brushes sucked up leaves and shot them into an attached burlap bag. Removing its front cover exposed the brushes that could be replaced with a device that converted the machine into a snow blower. Replacing the blower and the brushes with cutting disks converted the machine into a lawn mower. It was a brilliant hit! But it took at least twenty more years before the machine evolved into a leaf blower resembling the ones we see (and hear) today.


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