Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Have You Met Mrs. James?

So my kids are dragging their feet on writing their Santa letters because they can't quite decide what they want.  I have a feeling that Mr. Claus will be bringing at least one thing beginning with N and ending with intendo in the next few weeks but beyond that they haven't been specific.  One thing I know they'll each be getting has no batteries or power cords or itty bitty games that are as bad as Legos to step on in the middle of the night.  It's this.

Ah, the Slinky.  The kids get them every year in their stockings and stretch them out of shape by New Years.  For us it's part of supporting the local economy.  The Slinky factory is still in the county where I live even though James Industries was bought out by Poof Toys several years ago.  Poof-Slinky maintains an online Slinky Museum that includes the toy's history, one of the great success stories in American business.  The Slinky was invented by Naval engineer Richard James and went on sale at Gimbels department store for $1 in 1945.  The entire stock of 400 sold out in 90 minutes.  That's only part of the story, though.

In 1960, Richard James moved to Bolivia to become a missionary with Wycliffe Bible Translators.  His wife, Betty, stayed behind and took over as CEO.  Her first job was satisfying creditors who'd been stiffed as a result of her now ex-husband's donations to his church.  She moved her company and her young family of six children back to her hometown and kept going.  Look up "determination" in the dictionary and there's a picture of Betty James.  She's one of my heroes.

Everyone knows it's Slinky now, over 60 years on, but I'm sure that when it was introduced there were questions posed like these ones by Peter, Paul and Mary.  What was your marvelous toy when you were a kid?  Comments are open.


  1. I remember the commercial, though I never had the toy. My most marvelous toy was my Skipper doll; I just loved her. In fact, I still have her packed away somewhere.

  2. We had a Slinky but for some reason it never really worked with the stairs in our house. The risers may have been too high. It was made out of metal! I'm sure they're plastic now, huh?

    I'm trying to remember a favorite toy but I honestly can't. I can remember my brother's favorite toys. I had favorite books, and then I had musical instruments that I spent a lot of time with. Barbie dolls, maybe. Spent a lot of time sewing doll clothes. Or marbles?

  3. @judiang...I had a Skipper, too. Mine was apparently Puberty Skipper because when you turned her arm in a certain way she grew taller (her torso was rubber) and developed breasts. I think it was my grandmother's way of having "the talk" without having to say anything, lol.

    @Kurbiss...they have plastic ones but the metal ones are still their big sellers. They even have a 14K gold plated one. My brother's GI Joe always made Barbie a POW.

  4. Good old grandma skirting the issue. Lol

    I remember the stories of David (our bro) and David C (our cousin) taking Barbie and other miscellaneous dolls hostage. They terrorized you and Betsy something fierce!

    My favorite toys were our cats (not technically toys but I thought they were). I used to chase Tiffany around the house with mom's keys because she was TERRIFIED of keys! I also did the typical kid thing of dressing them up in Cabbage Patch doll clothes. I loved those too! Got a homemade one from Grandma Ellen and got a regular one when I broke my arm and was in the hospital for a few weeks. I was never able to determine if I got that one because they felt bad for me about my arm or if they felt bad about having to get rid of Kitty. Lol


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