My sister and niece were over the house to celebrate my daughters 16th birthday yesterday and, as usual, a bizarre bit of our childhood folklore floated to the surface of the conversation.
My daughter loves these glimpses into our past. Of course it never seems odd when you are living it, but it sure can sound that way thirty years later.
My sister and I were talking about my Dad’s various hobbies and I mentioned the Gee Haw Whammy Diddle.
Yes its an actual thing. A small propeller nailed to a stick with some notches cut into it. A second stick for making the propeller go right (Gee) and left (Haw). And there you have yourself one country boy, homemade toy.
It’s not like we were so poor we played with rocks and sticks, it’s just that my dad liked to make stuff. And he liked colonial era, boy scout, do-it-yourself from raw materials (possibly with the help of an expensive lathe) kind of projects most especially.
For a good stretch of my childhood he dabbled in leather goods (he had an account at the Tandy Leather Factory), and then he made candy dispensers out of mason jars (I still have one), and for a while he enjoyed working on wood-turning projects which meant everyone received wooden vases as gifts.
My all time favorite project of his was empty tuna cans with both lids cut off, spray painted gold and soldered together into a Christmas tree shape. He then attached a gold Christmas ornament inside each tuna can. That creation decorated the front door each Christmas for a couple of years and clanked impressively each time the door was opened.
Hard to beat the Gee Haw Whammy Diddle for sheer fun though. The name never fails to get a laugh followed by a “Wait. What?”
Here is a link to the plans for how you too can make your very own Whammy Diddle. Impress your friends.