Duncan Yo-Yos


In March 1973, Duncan Yo-Yo “champion” Tom McCoy showed
a few tricks to a group of East Huntington youngsters.


HUNTINGTON — In the 1920s, a young man from the Philippines moved to California
 and began work as a bellhop. Pedro Flores had learned yo-yo tricks as a young boy.
At the hotel, he found that doing tricks with his hand-carved yo-yo always
 attracted a crowd of curious onlookers. Sensing an opportunity,
Flores quit his job and started a company to make yo-yos.

Donald F. Duncan first saw a yo-yo during a business trip to
California. Fascinated by what he had seen, he returned
 a year later and bought Flores’ fledgling company.

Born in Rome, Ohio, Duncan grew up in Huntington. His formal
schooling ended after the eighth grade, and he left Huntington
 in his mid-teens. A talented entrepreneur, he would go on to
 establish the Duncan Parking Meter Co., which once
 made 80% of the world’s parking meters.

Beginning in the 1930s, Duncan tirelessly promoted his yo-yo company.
 With the advent of television in the 1950s, the yo-yo was one of
the first toys to be advertised on the new medium. In 1962,
 the company’s peak sales year, it sold 18 million yo-yos.

Duncan figured that youngsters who could see elaborate yo-yo
 tricks being done would quickly pester their parents to buy
them one. So he dispatched skilled young men to travel
from town to town giving yo-yo demonstrations at
schoolyards and other spots where kids gathered.

In East Huntington in 1973, a reporter from the Huntington Advertiser
interviewed 24-year-old Tom McCoy, who identified himself as one
of a dozen or so traveling Duncan Yo-Yo “champions” who were
on tour doing informal exhibitions. McCoy said he had just
earned a college degree in accounting but was doing the
 yo-yo tour before settling into a regular job. Showing
 off what could be done with a yo-yo was “a lot
 more fun than accounting,” he said.

Ultimately, Flambeau Products of Middlefield, Ohio,
 bought the Duncan Yo-Yo Co., which is still
turning out millions of yo-yos every year.


Note:  This Article and picture appeared in the Herald-Dispatch Newspaper on March, 30,  2021.


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