Richard “Dick” Church, who previously shared some memories of the Red Shield Boys' Club, an organization dear to his heart, provided additional memories of the organization. Dick recalled another activity at the Red Shield Boys' Club – stamp collecting.
“There was a gentleman and his young son,” he said, “whose names escape me, who formed a club for boys interested in this hobby. We got together once a week to talk stamps and to show off the stamps we had acquired and traded among ourselves. I still put away a few stamps and have done so over the years. This interest started from my experience at the Boys' Club.”
Dick related another story that had to do with boxing. Ever so often, the boxing coach would get the boys together and offer anyone who could stay in the ring for three rounds a free trip to the concession stand where he usually treated himself to chocolate milk.
“The guys would get together beforehand,” he said, “and agree not to hit each other hard and to pull all our punches. That being the case, even though I was not into the sport as such, it was a way to get a free treat. Fortunately, I don’t remember ever getting hurt.”
Duncan “Diamond Studded” Yo-Yo Won By Dick Church
Church recalled a craze that hit Johnson City and possibly all over the country involving the Duncan yo-yo company. “All of a sudden, said Church, “Duncan yo-yos were everywhere, “Kress’s, Woolworth's, McLellan's and other five and dime stores. On a Saturday afternoon, when all us kids congregated downtown to hang out or take in a matinee movie at the Majestic Theatre, they would have a young man out front of the stores demonstrating yo-yos.
“There were usually several different demonstrators and all were from the Philippines. They were probably in their 20s. All of them were experts with the yo-yo and would teach the kids how to do tricks with them.
“One evening at the Boys Club, they held a contest to see which boy in the club was the best using a yo-yo. I was pretty good and practiced before the contest so I could make the yo-yo “sleep,” “walk the dog,” “cats cradle,” “shoot the moon” and other tricks. We all lined up with our Duncan yo-yo’s. I don’t think there was any other brand. In turn, each boy demonstrated his prowess with his special yo-yo to one of the guys who judged the contest.”
Dick explained that there were prizes awarded for the first three places. The first prize was a gold, probably plated, yo-yo. The second one was an all-black model with three “diamonds” embedded on each side which would sparkle when the yo-yo was spinning. The latter was the prize that Dick wanted. He didn't remember what the third prize was.
“Well,” he said, “I came in second place and proudly won the special “diamond” studded yo-yo. I still have it and wouldn’t trade it for the gold one even if the price of gold was through the roof and the diamonds were real.
“I must also mention that these young Philippines guys had another special talent. They could whip out a pocketknife and, while you watched, quickly carve a scene, flowers, your name or something else into the wooden yo-yo. They would then take a thick white paint material and rub it into the carved area, polish it off and handed you a work of art.
“I had my black diamond studded one so carved (as shown in the attached photos). Notice on one side is a boat, an airplane, a palm tree and some birds flying; on the other is a garland of some kind of flowers looking something like a thistle.”
Dick further stated that all through the years, he has been thankful for the adult volunteers and the men who ran the club for their dedicated efforts. He singled out one individual, a man named “George,” for kick-starting him in radio, his lifetime vocation and avocation. I am still looking for some who knows George's last name?