The Red Devil

Thomas Turman

© Copyright 2023 by Thomas Turman

Image by Dariusz Sankowski from Pixabay
Image by Dariusz Sankowski from Pixabay

When I was 10, I traveled with my father selling automotive equipment through eastern Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and finally Wyoming to finish our circle, back to Denver where we lived. I loved traveling with him because we could talk and play license-plate poker on the long stretches between small towns. That’s when we worked out a money-making trick for me.

Behind our 1939 Chevy, we were hauling a portable steam cleaner on its own trailer. We called it The Red Devil. This thing was a 30-gallon vertical boiler painted red. It had a gas fired burner and two hoses with flat steel nozzles where the live, hot steam shot out. Dad was selling these to garages to clean the oil and other gunk off the garage floor.

After describing the Dynamometers he also sold, he would pitch The Devil by saying, “So easy to run a 10-year old kid can do it. Show ‘em Tom.”

I’d fire The Devil up, watch the gages for a good head of steam, then wrestle one of the hot hoses and its wand to clean a small portion of the front sidewalk in front of the dealership.

We had figured, out of course, that when my demonstration was finished, the rest of the sidewalk looked dirty. The kicker for me was he would then say, “You want the rest of the sidewalk cleaned just give him $5 he'll do it in just a few minutes.

It was my summer job and the easiest $5 I'd ever made.

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