I was most fortunate to be exposed to the many fads and fancies of the 50s. Every summer a yoyo professional would come around to the rec centers and demonstrate his skills and talents. For the next two or three weeks we would all have our Duncan yoyos out, practicing “walking the dog” and the “cradle.”
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The Moskal brothers in front of their family’s Canton rowhouse. Photo courtesy Roland Moskal
Of course there were Hula Hoops too. When they first hit the scene they were very expensive. We had Hula Hoop contests at the rec—endurance spinning around the waist, and all kinds of tricks and back spinning. Now you can find Hula Hoops in the dollar store.
Does anyone remember the bobba link? It was a wooden barrel about the size of an adult fist. There was a small rope attached to a wooden handle with a one-inch dowel—the idea was to flip the barrel onto the dowel. We were easily amused in those days.
When the Frisbee came along we soon became the best of the best. We made up games to see how far we could throw it or who would drop it first. We learned to throw it into the wind and play it boomerang style by ourselves.
We had glow-in-the-dark Frisbees and mini-Frisbees. There were all kinds of ways you could grip it, and boy did we experiment. Bonus: they were practically indestructible. This was a fad that lasted through my college years and into my thirty-somethings.
I am not sure when the wiffle ball came on the scene but I recall we tried to use it in our stickball games. We originally used a “Pennsy Pinky” ball. It was a hollow pink rubber ball pumped full of air. It was hard and bounced great, and printed on the outside was the keystone logo of Pennsylvania.
The stick was usually a good heavy-duty broom handle. You only needed two to play—a batter and a pitcher, and of course a wall. The pitcher would wind up just like in the pros and throw the pinky as fast as he could.
The batter tried his best to slug it out of the schoolyard. Scoring depended on whether the ball went over the fence or onto the rooftops, etc. The pinky cost a quarter so every effort was made to retrieve it from roofs or down the sewer hole—no joke.
Silly Putty was probably the tamest of the fads but still a lot of fun. It would bounce, but the best thing was lifting print from comics in the newspaper.
These are just a few of the fads that flew through Canton when I was a youngster and no matter how poor you were your parents still managed to get you one of the toys just like the other kids.
by Roland Moskal