Toys, Treats and Teenagers

A 1930 Duncan YoYo

“Soon after we moved to Jackson the stores began advertising yoyos, and everyone had to have one. Daddy took us to Patterson’s Drugstore in the Lamar Life Building where Mama ordered all her drugs, and each of us got one.

Lamar Life Building, Capitol Street.

There was even a yoyo contest at one of the theaters. I don’t know whether they had just been invented or whether they had just hit Jackson, but they were a big item that year. It was about that time too that popsicles came out, and as soon as Daddy would come home we were waiting to go to get a popsicle.

“Tiny had become a teenager and was running around with a crowd of boys and girls who were at Enochs Junior High School with her. They would gather at our house or down the street at the Vest’s, who had a tennis court. Tiny did not want me and Mary to come anywhere around when they would show up at our house, and of course we would spy on them and giggle and she would tell Mama, ‘Please make Mary and Sara go away.’ Mary was at Enochs, too, and I was still at Whitfield.”

YoYos came back with a bang in the early ’60s, but I don’t recall Sara being very adept with one. She did take me and Frank McCormick down to Crosstown for a demonstration by The World’s Greatest YoYoer (or somesuch title), and of course Frank instantly mastered all of the tricks and I decided my dexterity lay elsewhere. And Popsicles? Just a part of growing up, always with a towel in the back seat of the Plymouth to protect the upholstery. Some things just endure forever. There was one summer that Sara and I went on a self-imposed banana popsicle diet that lasted a few weeks. We both lost weight but I’ve never felt the same way about banana popsicles since then, and I don’t think she ever had another one.

Tricia adds a funny note to Tiny’s distress at having Mamie and Sara around: While living in Jackson, Tiny began referring to her sisters as “the children” when introducing them to her friends. I’m sure that went over well.

Ed. note: YoYos are supposedly the second oldest toy, known to Egyptians and predated only by dolls. A Filipino busboy in Santa Monica had a sideline business carving and demonstrating them in the 1920s, and Donald Duncan took the idea and ran with it. Thus was born the Duncan YoYo, still rolling today. Popsicles were an accidental discovery by an 11-year-old boy in 1905; he left powdered soda mix, water and a stirring stick out on a very cold night and found a treat the next morning. It took twenty years for the concept to catch on, but it’s never waned.

About sec040121

Hello....I'm in possession of a priceless collection of memoirs and memorabilia left by my mother, Sara Evans Criss. She was a native and lifelong (88 years!) devotee of our small town, who covered this peculiar and volatile corner of the world for 30 years as the Memphis Commercial Appeal's Greenwood bureau chief, a job that started out with debutantes and high school football and wound up spang in the midst of one of the twentieth century's most enduring social upheavals. This blog is dedicated to her memory and the legacy she left behind, both for her family and her community.
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