The Incredible Uno-Vac


From S.E. Hood: Today’s post comes from a friend and fellow writer, H.L. Seibel. He originally wrote the following as a letter of praise to Union Manufacturing Company, the long-defunct maker of the Uno-Vac thermos. His book, Born Lucky, is available on Amazon.



Nothing satisfies like a mug of home brewed. Unless it’s a mug of home brewed straight from an Uno-Vac. Piping hot. Aromatic. Quintessential. That’s why I bought one, somewhere along the fall of ’77. Paid for it with $20.00 American. Cash.

’Long came the winter of ’78. I managed to locate a pothole on my bike. My Uno-Vac went airborne. Banged to the ground. Skidded across four lanes of rush-hour traffic. Naturally I went after it. I like my coffee. Found it. Hardy little cuss hadn’t even felt it. Oh, maybe a dent or two, but the coffee? Jostled. But piping.

Next best thing to a mug of home brewed is pulling a duck out of the sky with a 12 gauge double barrel. Naturally, my Uno-Vac came along. Duck hunting. Sometimes you run into situations. I dropped that Uno-Vac into four feet of scummy pond water. There were those who thought I’d seen the last of it. They were wrong. Dead wrong. Dadgum it, sirs—I’ll do just about anything for a mug of home brewed! My coffee? Pure Columbian. No pond scum. Ah-h-h….

Summer of ’79 I did a little farming. With a 9600 Ford. And my Uno-Vac. Lost the Uno-Vac out on the back forty. Disked it under along with chemical fertilizer. Disked it right back up a moment later. Minus the handle. Plus a few scratches. But full of rich, satisfying coffee. Still hot.

Occasionally I cut timber. Whacked down a stand of Missouri pin oak back in the ’80’s. With two chain saws and my Uno-Vac. Wore five chains plumb down to nothing. And lost my Uno-Vac under a pile of wood the size of Kentucky. I went through that mountain of wood like Texas lightning. Found the Uno-Vac. And a few new dents. But the coffee? Scalding. Delicious.

Sometimes I go deer hunting. Haven’t missed a season since the winter of ’68. Give me a clean November sky and my Uno-Vac and life is good. Ever bring down an 8 point buck? Things get a little intense. I’ve lost that Uno-Vac over the side of so many treestands it’s downright embarrassing. Collected a fresh batch of scratches each time. Never touched the coffee, though. And I like my coffee.

Have I mentioned that I carry the United States mail in my spare time? Satchel on one shoulder; Uno-Vac on the other. When it comes to making a point with a disgruntled Rottweiler I’ll lay my money on an Uno-Vac. Every time. And the coffee? Unscathed. Naturally.

Gentleman, for the past twenty-odd years that Uno-Vac and I have been pert near inseparable. We’ve been over mountains, in white water, and through more tall timber than you can shake a stick at.

Why, I’d like to say that single-handedly, and armed only with a length of stout rope and my Uno-Vac, I blazed a trail across the uncharted jungles of the upper Amazon to deliver a life-saving vaccine to an all but extinct tribe of aborigines. Only that would be an out and out lie. Truth is, I did it without the rope.

Yes, come wind or high water that Uno-Vac and I have weathered the storms of life together. It’s been dropped, kicked, scraped, dented, bruised, patched and bandaged more times than I can count. Yet through it all, it’s delivered cup after cup of piping hot coffee.

Fact is, sirs, that Uno-Vac has been more faithful than a woman. More loyal than a dog. And a dang sight more dependable than a Ford, if you’ll pardon my saying so. And I’d be stretching the truth way out of shape if I didn’t come right out and say that, after two decades of service, the Uno-Vac hasn’t fared a mite better than me. In fact, I was beginning to wonder if that critter wasn’t immortal.

But then—disaster.

Happened ’long ’bout the winter of ’98. The Uno-Vac stopped delivering the goods. I guess I can’t rightly blame it, but there it was—no longer did dark, rich liquid spill, steaming, from its friendly mouth. Steaming? Heck, it barely hit lukewarm. And gentlemen, when coffee’s no better than lukewarm you might just as well be throwing back dishwater. Fact is, dishwater’s almost preferable.

Well, I did the right thing by it. Took that Uno-Vac out on the back forty and shot it. Put it plumb out of its misery. It was kinda quiet coming back. But you’d have done the same.

Gentlemen, I’d be willing to put down good money on a replacement. Fact is, I’ve been desperate to do so these past few months. If I could find one. Why, I’ve looked high, low and all points in between for another Uno-Vac—and turned up zip. It’s taken the wind right out of my sails. And I’m getting mighty tired of cold coffee. So you’d be doing me a powerful favor if you’d point me in the general direction of a new Uno-Vac.

Anxiously awaiting your reply, I remain~

Timothy Cochran, Esq. A Satisfied Uno-Vac User

P.S. I took the liberty of devising a slogan for your fine Uno-Vac which you’ll probably want to use:

Uno-Vac Takes a Whack and Comes Right Back.

You’re welcome.


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3 thoughts on “The Incredible Uno-Vac

  1. David

    Loved this story. I inherited one from my dad which I am still using. It is pretty badly dented, but it will still keep coffee hot for eight hours or more. I don’t know when my dad bought it, but if he bought it when I was still a very young boy it could easily be 70 years old.


  2. This is weird, but I have a sudden and inexplicable craving for a cup of piping hot coffee, rich and satisfying and aromatic. And yet, and perhaps just as weirdly, I have zero desire to trudge across the upper Amazon…unless, of course, there happens to be a weathered Uno-Vac waiting for me at the end of my trek, filled to the brim with fresh, home-brewed Columbian.


  3. Deana Griffin

    Thanks for sharing. Brought a smile to my face and memories of my Stanley thermos and hot coffee when I use to drink it. 🙂


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