When we were young, once upon a lifetime, the children we were made a lot of simple fun. We baby boomers went through a stage of fascination with a very simple toy, the yo-yo. I noticed one the other day. It was an old Coca-cola plastic yo-yo in perfect condition, selling on Ebay for $300! If only we had kept ours!
The yo-yo is basically made of two round discs connected by an axle, with a string attached. As children, we had hard plastic yo-yos. Some of these yo-yos did not last long. Children could spend hours practising tricks, and even attempting to invent new yo-yo games.
We thought we were the bees’ knees if we received a new yo-yo. Yes, the yo-yo is a simple toy, it needs no batteries or mechanisms to wind. We could take our yo-yos anywhere in our school cases, or in our pockets. We played yo-yos anywhere, simple fun for boys and girls.
Apparently, the yo-yo is one of the human race’s oldest toys. I browsed online and found an image of an ancient Greek painting from 440 B.C, in which a little boy was playing with a yo-yo. It is the same game. His yo-yo was made of wood or pottery, known as terracotta, which would have affected its spin. More images were displayed, of olden women of India, demonstrating their prowess with the yo-yo.
All over the world today, youngsters play with yo-yos, for fun, or to compete in yo-yo competitions. There is now even a world yo-yo day. Playing with this simple, ancient toy is an accepted international hobby for young and old alike. Yes, we played the familiar yo-yo tricks, so long as the yo-yo string remained intact. There was walk-the-dog, rock the baby, and a host of others.
If you wish, any senior can purchase a yo-yo, see if you still have the knack. It is an acquired art, flicking the wrist, a peaceful, harmless fun skill. Maybe any senior could teach these younger yo-yo afficianados some long lost techniques!
In walk-the-dog, we tried to make the yo-yo roll on the floor, then wind back up the string. Tricky! Our aim, as yo-yo fans, was to flip our wrists with perfect tension on the yo-yo string. This would make the toy roll back up its string. Yo-yo players have to insert one finger into a slip knot.
If the string on the yo-yo tangled or snapped, there was an upset boomer babe or boy. We hoped for a new yo-yo. Or we would wait for Christmas, or a show bag at the annual show, hoping for a new yo-yo. Excitement machines!
Sometimes the yo-yo would tilt and not roll back, so we had to rewind it, seeking perfect tension, with alignment. We were practising our yo-yo techniques, same as in ancient times. I continued on to read that these days, yo-yos are being made in advanced modes, with slightly different materials, such as aluminium or titanium, and with ball bearings to improve the spin and capabilities of each yo-yo.
Nearly sixty years later, I can still fondly recall the fun times we all spent at home or in our school playgrounds, seeking to master the techniques of our simple toy, the yo-yo. To this day, playing with a yo-yo is a global game. Even adults can still delight in demonstrating the tricks of the ancient yo-yo. Yes, it was all once upon a lifetime ago, such fun with a simple toy……