Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Spring, A Spring, A Marvelous Thing...

Today's Wonder of the World is...the Slinky!

Flickr photo by blueraine tigerseye
I don't know about you, but both my newspaper and my mailbox have been stuffed lately with too many toy catalogs advertising all sorts of crazy things. Like Crazy Cluck the dancing chicken, or Basket Case, a basketball hoop you strap to your head and play by yourself, for the lonely boy or girl on your list. I look at these toys and I laugh. (Or shudder.) And then I marvel at the king of all toys: The Slinky!

What child doesn't love a slinky?
And what cat, for that matter?

Flickr photo by oreofuzzcat
I bet dogs love them too.
At least this one does.

Flickr photo by krisjaus
But monkeys? They get a little overexcited.

Flickr photo by EideMontana
My kids always got excited too.
After a few days of fun, most of our Slinkys looked like this.

Flickr photo by Liam Cassidy
Still, I love them. I love the idea that a simple coil of metal could enchant so many generations of kids! A simple coil of metal! Toy companies spend millions on research and development and marketing, and kids want to play with a metal coil!
Maybe simple really is best! My kids also loved playing with measuring cups in the bathtub, but that's another story.

I get pretty enchanted myself watching a Slinky "walk" down the steps.
Or even take the elevator.

Flickr photo by Griggity
Ha ha.

What's even funnier--or at least strange--is the story behind the slinky. Do you know it? How one day in 1943, naval engineer Richard James saw a tension spring fall at work and keep "walking" across the deck of a ship, and thought, "I bet I could make a toy out of that!"

But Richard wasn't the only smarty of the family. When Richard had a midlife crisis and left his wife, six children, and the Slinky Empire to join a Bolivian religious order/cult, (I promise I'm not making this up,) his wife Betty took over and rescued the company. She even started up a big ad campaign complete with the famous Slinky jingle.
You know the one:
"What walks down stairs, alone or in pairs, And makes a slinkity sound?
A spring, a spring, a marvelous thing, Everyone knows it’s Slinky…
It's Slinky, it's Slinky, for fun it's a wonderful toy
It's Slinky, it's Slinky, it's fun for a girl and a boy

Good for Betty! I hope she became a millionaire many times over!
Sing along, won't you?

Have a Wonder-full Wednesday, everyone!
Before you go, tell me, what's your favorite old fashioned toy?
Love, Becky


Squirrel said...

No offense, but elevator slinky looks more like a slug. It's just not becoming of a slinky.

JaxPop said...

I was born before the invention of toys. All I had to play with were rocks, that is, until sticks were invented. Then fire was discovered & I was back to rocks.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Squirrel, you're right!
No offense taken.

Jaxpop, you are too funny. But you know, one time we asked Todd's grandma what toys she played with as a child and she said that exact thing! Sticks and rocks!

Suzie said...

I love that cat photo

TattingChic said...

OMGoodness! That is a fascinating story about the naval engineer who "discovered" slinky and good for his wife for making lemonade out of lemons! Man I wonder if they wrote a memoir? That would make for some fascinating reading. Did they, BeckY?
The cat photo is funny!

Rosemary said...

Hi Becky,
I loved my slinky!!
Two of my favorites would be my Bewitched doll, and the game Operation. Got the Bewitched doll in elementary school and she was wearing a red velvet dress and hat with sparkles.
Wish I still had her.

Anonymous said...

oh my. My boys could be obsessed with the slinky for HOURS.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Ah, the slinky. I always loved the Easy Bake oven.

lotusloq said...

Slinkies are the best. My kids' always ended up in that tangled mess too. Then they'd hand them to me and expect me to work a miracle. Sometimes I succeeded. haha!

LW said...

I loved my Betsy McCall doll….
That was my all time favorite.

My grandmother grew up in Poland and her only toy
was mud ….
She made little mud and stick people and what I used to love was how
her eyes would light up when she talked about them…


Anonymous said...

Love the carpet on those stairs..hmmmm... my favorite toy would have to be my easy-bake oven. I spent so many hours baking on that. And THEN...I had the little table with the plastic dishes to serve it on....what bliss...

Warm Wishes,

Rebecca Ramsey said...

What great old toys...the Bewitched doll, the Easy Bake oven (oh how I pined for one--yet somehow I survived my psychological wound of not ever getting one,) and Betsy McCall paper dolls! I LOVED collecting Betsy McCall! And...mud? Louise, I would love to be able to look back in time and hear your grandma get excited about mud people! Karen Eileen, I was crazy about my plastic dishes, even if I didn't have the oven.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

It's so funny, that song started playing in my head as soon as I saw the first picture! It's amazing what's rattling around up there.

Jojo said...

I heard the Slinky story on NPR this week and I drove my husband crazy singing the advertisement for the rest of the day. Wasn't that a catchy tune? To this day I love Slinkys!

Felicity said...

"Good for Betty!"

Chipper comment like this are the reason I love you, Miss Becky!

I'm trying to convince myself that you are right about old fashioned toys. My son is desperate for Wii but it isn't in Santa's budget. I actually bought him a handcrafted wooden spinner/top this weekend that I think he'll love. I hope you are right!

Fete et Fleur said...

There is nothing more fun than a slinky! It's still one of my very favorites. The song is too awesome for words. Kudos, to Mrs. Slinky.


Kat said...

Slinky's!!!! I love them!

JaxPop said...

Do you remember the barnyard version that came out in the 60's? (Hey farm kids gotta play too!) It was called the 'stinky slinky'. It was recalled after a few months. Apparently it put such a scare into cows that they produced sour milk. Not good on Frosted Flakes.

Michele Thornton said...

Slinkys were awesome. But Silly Putty was pretty grand, too. Hours of fun with the Sunday Comics! I, too, pined for the Easy Bake.

But I had to be satisfied with Creepy Crawlers. Pour liquified plastic into dangerous little metal molds, bake until hard, and voila! Plastic bugs. The tiny metal tweezers provided to remove the sizzling molds were ingeniously designed to singe and sear little fingers. Still have the scars. Ah, good times.

CC said...

Slinkies always drove me nuts. They never did "walk" the way the commercials showed!!

May Vanderbilt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
May Vanderbilt said...

Slinkies are so low-tech that they're high-tech. I love them!

Did you ever see that parody of this slinky commercial for "log"?

It's a riot, and ties in nicely with playing with sticks.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

You guys are so much fun.
Michele, I spent countless hours with silly putty, smushing it all over the funny pages and then pulling Charlie Brown's face into weird contortions. I loved introducing it to my kids. And creepy crawlers! Do a search on my blog for that. I wrote about it on one of the first days of summer...Sam was on a creepy crawler jag to ward off an early case of summer boredom. It was perfect!

Everybody, you should go to the link May provided and see the slinky parody. Very funny!

Barb said...

Hi Becky,

I have just one thing to say "you Go Betty"!
The boys loved to walk the slinky down the stairs.

Favorite childhood toy....that is a tough one. I loved my dolls and hulahoop.


Betty C. said...

I don't know what my favorite was, but I was a little disappointed in Slinkies -- I seemed to have trouble getting them to walk. I was never very mechanically inclined...