Saturday, September 19, 2009

New 1920s Technology: The Yo-Yo

Not to be sidetracked by the stock market crash, the November 9, 1929 issue of The New Yorker describes a brand new craze.
This backwater hamlet has been very slow to discover Yo-Yo. Cities like Dallas and Birmingham knew about it long ago...

Yo-yo is a small yellow top with a groove in the centre. Around the axis is a string. We could describe it, but it would be simpler for you to buy one... The printed directions that come with it say "you can invent many tricks yourself." (The only decent trick we've invented so far is called "Putting It Away in the Desk.")
The tricks mentioned in the article are "The Strut" and "The Spinner," both performed by a Texas boy named Delma White (who spun it 121,111 consecutive times). They go on to tell the standard (and apparently true) story of the Yo-Yo's American popularity: a Filipino bellboy named Pedro Flores would occasionally entertain guests with it, and then he opened his own factory in 1928.

The Yo-Yo craze in New York was thanks to Mr. Louis Marx of the "Jaymar Specialty Company" (in the '70s this company was still sponsoring Yo-Yo events, but was known as the "Louis Marx Toy Company"). Mr. Marx included the following poem with the first New York Yo-Yos of 1929:
What is the dearest thing on earth
That fills my soul with joy and mirth?
My Yo-Yo.

No comments: