Simple Amusements, Part Four-Yo-Yo

This is another way we spent time as kids. Today, if this guy showed up at a school yard, a SWAT Team would appear out of nowhere and take him out..

To see a very interesting demonstration of yo-yo tricks click on this link.

YO-YO MAN

           Recess and the lunch hour at Our Lady of Hungary School was special.  I was in sixth, seventh and eighth grades when the Duncan yo-yo Man visited.  He showed up at the small grocery store across the street from school, on the corner of 93rd and Kimbark.  There, he put on a show using Duncan Yo-Yo’s.  Duncan Yo-Yo’s are different from ordinary yo-yos’.  They are thin, and painted in special metallic colors.  When they spin, they look cool.  The yo-yo man had a model with four diamonds set in each wheel, all in a row.  When this yo-yo spun, it glistened.  The yo-yo man put on a show for us. He did all kinds of tricks with his yo-yo; “Walk the Dog,” “Around the World,” “Creeper,” and “Rock the Baby.”  He made these tricks look so easy that anyone could do them.  He spent one day at our school, then he moved to the next school, and put on the same show.  Meanwhile, we’d all want a Duncan yo-yo to play with.  Some kids would buy a yo-yo on the same day that the yo-yo man came. They used their lunch money. They showed off all the tricks they learned. The wise guys would even do a trick when we were in class. They did it when Sister wasn’t looking. The little family store on the corner, called Yurko’s, sold the yo-yos. Many kids bought them there.

The following week, the  yo-yo man showed up again with a fancier yo-yo. He had some new tricks too.  We learned that the secret of the yo-yo was in the type of string one used.  The strings wore out often from all the tricks. When a string broke, I’d run to Yurko’s to buy a new one. The official Duncan yo-yo string  cost a nickel.  It was a strong fine twine. They made it doubled up and twisted together to form the loop that went around the axle.  On the opposite end, a loop went around the finger.  If the string became twisted too tight, the yo-yo wouldn’t stay down.  It would just ride up and down the string.  To do the tricks, the yo-yo had to spin freely at the end of the string. It isn’t supposed to climb up until you gently jerk the string string.  It takes a while to learn how many twists are necessary to make the tricks happen.

After a couple of visits, by the yo-yo man, every kid in the school had one.  Some of my class mates already graduated to the top of the line model, with diamond studs. Within a few weeks, the yo-yo man disappeared until the following year.

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