Like many yo-yo aficionados of the 1940s and '50s, Tom Kuhn, 39, inventor of the No-Jive 3-in-1 Yo-Yo, which is made of maple, was weaned on wood. With the advent of plastic yo-yos in 1955, Kuhn, then 12, packed away his trophies—the patch that said DUNCAN YO-YO WINNER and the pearl-colored yo-yo inlaid with rhinestones—and retired. "The plastic ones just didn't feel the same," he says.
Kuhn's skills lay dormant for more than two decades, during which he became a dentist in San Francisco, until the day almost five years ago when a friend gave him a rosewood yo-yo. Its wooden-ness, like Proust's madeleine, opened the floodgates of memory. Soon Kuhn was once again walking the dog, skinning the cat and reaching for the moon.
"But then the axle broke," he says. "I glued it, but it kept breaking, so I took it down to my shop in the basement and began experimenting."
Six months later Kuhn emerged with a classic, a yo-yo made of well-varnished eastern hard rock maple with a patented replaceable wooden axle. The yo-yo is 2[3/16] inches in diameter and weighs 1¾ ounces. At first it was marketed in a small way; now it's available all over.
"It's a no-nonsense tournament professional yo-yo," says its creator. "That's why I called it No-Jive." The two sides unscrew and can be reassembled in three different configurations—face-to-face, back-to-back and pagoda, or piggyback, style—hence, 3-in-1. Included with the yo-yo are 60 feet of strong cotton string (enough for eight or 10 replacements), two spare axle sleeves and a 32-page instructional booklet entitled Pumping Wood. The No-Jive can be purchased in hobby, sporting goods and Brookstone stores and through Brookstone catalogs, for between $10 and $12. Or you can buy one for $13.95 by writing to Tom Kuhn Custom Yo-Yos, 2383 California St., San Francisco, Calif. 94115.
Lately, between patients, Kuhn has been practicing tricks with two yo-yos. He thinks of them as "little spaceships in concentric orbits out there." No jive.