I was about seven years old (circa 1963) when I saw my first commercial for Slinky. I looked at my brother, David, and back to the television. I wanted to make sure someone else was watching this. Oh Dear God, I had to have this. I memorized the catchy song title and almost remember all of the words to this day:
What walks down stairs
alone or in pairs
and makes a slinkity sound
A spring! A spring!
A marvelous thing
Everyone knows its Slinky!
It’s Slinky! It’s Slinky!
For fun, it’s a wonderful toy!
It’s fun for a girl and a boy!
It’s fun for a girl and a boy!
Oh, yeah, I was sooo getting one. The next Friday night, my dad took us to over to the Weirton shopping center to hang out. That’s what he did every Friday night. It was “Dad and the Kids Night So Mom Can Have a Moment to Reflect Night.” It was fun. I’d usually get a 45 record at Grants, and then we would head to the Village Dairy and get a two scoop ice cream. Fun times.
Well, it looked like the Weirton Grants was pretty progressively prompt. There it was! Slinky was looking right at me. It said it was a walking spring toy. It even had directions on the side of the box in case you had no brain:
TO WALK SLINKY DOWN STAIRS: Place Slinky on top stair. Grip the top coil and flip it forward toward the lower step while quickly releasing. Watch as Slinky begins to walk down the stairs-all by itself!
Well, I laugh now. These were directions for an idiot. Because they knew anyone who would by coil and watch it walk down stairs is either stupid or has no life. But, hey, this was for kids and I need to get my “kid hat” on. I wear it most days, anywho, but really, think about it. It’s sort of a stupid toy. But, when I was seven, it was the berries. (I’m even talking like I’ve returned to my youth).
I will continue with the idiot directions.
TO PLAY WITH SLINKY IN YOUR HANDS: Hold the two end coils of Slinky with both hands. Next, raise and lower each hand in a rhythmic motion.
You know, you can screw up those directions. They never said to hold them with the palm of your hands pointing upwards. I just took my new purchase (for picture taking purposes only, you know) and held the Slinky in my hands with my palms facing each other, moving my each hand up and down. If anyone did that, they would really look like their elevator didn’t go up to the top floor. Their directions for that just sucked.
Well, I didn’t have to beg my dad much because I had started on the Slinky want for five days. I sort of reminded myself of that little cartoon dog who always hung out with the giant bulldog, Spike. “Can I , Spike? Can I? Hey, Spike? Can I, Spike?” Repeat, repeat, repeat.
Well, I got the Slinky home and played with it for hours. It really went down the stairs. Then I found out stuff about it that wasn’t on the directions. Your sister could hold one end and you could stretch it with the other hand, lie it on the floor, and have your hamster walk through it. We stayed absolutely still, as we didn’t want the retracting coil to cut off his little hamster feet. That was probably a REALLY stupid thing to do. Annie did ok. She seemed to like it, as she stayed in the middle of it and peed. She must have felt like home.
All in all, Slinky was a wonderful toy, It was fun for a girl and a boy. For a while. There’s only so many things you can do. I mean, after it goes down the steps a few hours the first day, the excitement fades. How many times can you get excited about this?
“Hey, Mom, watch Slinky go down the stairs……again?” I did throw it down the stairs once to see if it would elongate and look cool. It was fun, only because my brother David came around the corner in the basement at the same time and it hit him in the stomach. I cracked up.
We did a lot of things with Slinky we shouldn’t have. I personally liked wearing it as a boa. Sometimes two of us would ride our bikes with the training wheels and each hold an end while riding down the street. The directions should probably have read: MENDENHALL KIDS-DO NOT LEAVE THIS TOY OUT IN THE RAIN. DO NOT PLAY WITH THIS IN THE BATHTUB. DO NOT USE AS A THREE STOOGES WEAPON.
I loved my youth.