What started out as a simple hobby turned into a life-changing activity for both Pat Caffrey and his brother, Mike. The hobby was mastering the yo-yo.
Pat, who works at The Fountains at La Cholla retirement community as the food service director, and his brother will demonstrate their talents and share their history with the toy Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.
“It’s just an inexpensive hobby,” Pat explained why he has liked yo-yos for so long. “It’s a simple feeling, but makes me feel really happy when I do a trick or learn a trick. I like the simplicity of it. It’s a simple toy and it’s challenging to learn a new trick.”
In his collection, Pat has more than 50 different yo-yos and uses a special cotton string from India for them. The special string works best because it gives the yo-yo a little spring due to the elastic-like nature of the string.
When Pat was an 8-year-old in the third grade, he and Mike saw a television commercial advertising a yo-yo demonstrator for Duncan would soon visit Tucson. Not too long after that, they saw a sign in a hobby shop saying the demonstrator would be in town in just a couple of weeks, and there would be a yo-yo contest.
That day, they each bought a basic Duncan yo-yo. It was the last yo-yo Pat had to buy. The brothers practiced for the next two weeks in preparation for the contest. First, second and third place kids received a free yo-yo and a patch. Pat finished second place that day and brought home a free yo-yo.
During the next few months, when the yo-yo demonstrators went to various hobby shops and toy stores around Tucson, Pat and Mike were sure to attend. Winning those contests allowed the brothers to compete at the state level. For the next few years, they alternated winning the state championships.
“I would just sort of say, we kind of dominated the yo-yo contests,” Pat admitted.
Once Mike graduated from high school, he became a demonstrator for Duncan yo-yos, and Pat followed suit four years later, touring the country for the toy company.
It was during those four years Mike invented, patented and designed the Yomega yo-yo, which was commonly described as the “yo-yo with a brain.” Its special design gave beginners the ability to make the yo-yo spin at the bottom of the string, which gives users the capability to do most other yo-yo tricks.
For more stories from the duo and to see tricks performed live, be sure to attend the demonstration at 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 15 at The Fountains at La Cholla, 2001 W. Rudasill Road.