Slinky Day

What walks down stairs, alone or in pairs
and makes a slinkity sound?
A spring, a spring, a marvelous thing!
Everyone knows it’s Slinky.

Yes, August 30 we celebrate the springy toy that has brought so much fun to children. Richard James, a naval engineer, invented the slinky. In 1943, he accidentally knocked a torsion spring off a workbench and watched the spring “walk” along the floor. Intrigued, he decided to see if he could create just the right steel and tension to turn it into a toy. After months of experimentation, he decided he had found the right wire and design, took out a loan of $500 and had a local machine shop make 400 of the toys. He priced them at $1 a toy. His wife Betty gave the toy its name, a Swedish word meaning sleek and graceful.

When Gimbels in Philadelphia allowed him to set up an inclined plane in their toy department during the Christmas season, he sold out of his entire stock in 90 minutes, and a toy classic was born. James quit his day job and went into full-time production, setting up a shop in Philadelphia. His wife came up with the jingle, which you can see and hear in several versions on YouTube.

In 1999, the United States Postal Service issued a Slinky postage stamp. The Slinky was inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame in 2000. In 2001, the General Assembly of Pennsylvania made Slinky the Official State Toy of Pennsylvania.

Slinkys now come in both metal and plastic, and in various colors, but still provide simple joy to children (and the adults who remembered playing with the toys when they were young) If you are intrigued, there is a marvelous history of the toy here.

Quotes about slinkys and toys in general

I met this wonderful girl at Macy’s. She was buying clothes and I was putting Slinkies on the escalator.–Steven Wright

If time is a staircase, reality is a Slinky.–Louis Menand

I’ve kind of fashioned my life after a Slinky. Bend me in a million shapes, and eventually I’ll spring back to what I originally was.–Sylvester Stallone

Time is the continuous loop, the snakeskin with scales endlessly overlapping without beginning or end, or time is an ascending spiral if you will, like a child’s toy Slinky.–Annie Dillard

I have three step brothers and one step sister. It’s like a staircase, and I am the slinky.–Jarod Kintz

Give children toys that are powered by their imagination, not by batteries.–H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

A toy has no gender and no idea of whether a girl or boy is playing with it.–Letty Cottin Pogrebin

I like to do nice things for my grandchildren – like buy them those toys I’ve always wanted to play with.–Gene Perret

No matter how old you are, if a little kid hands you a toy phone… you answer it.–Dave Chappelle

Were I a philosopher, I should write a philosophy of toys, showing that nothing else in life need to be taken seriously, and that Christmas Day in the company of children is one of the few occasions on which men become entirely alive.–Robert Wilson Lynd

To a real child anything will serve as a toy.–John Cowper Powys

The simplest toy, one which even the youngest child can operate, is called a grandparent.–Sam Levenson

Sports is the toy department of human life.–Howard Cosell

You get to relive your childhood when you have a baby and you see these toys and these books you read when you were little – the innocence that you are able to maintain because you have to find that again in order to connect with your child keeps you in a special state of mind.–Idina Menzel

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