Danos Construction Superintendent Frank Davis’ fascination with yo-yos began as a child and continues to grow each day. Among his many toys, you’ll find plenty tops and jacks, but yo-yos are his passion. He currently has an expanding collection of 500-plus yo-yos and has no plans on slowing down. I sat down with Frank, surrounded by his many yo-yos, to learn a bit more about his collection.
His fascination with yo-yos is rooted in relaxation and social connection. Frank said, “I’ll be sitting at the heliport waiting on my flight and break out one of my yo-yos. It relaxes me and is a good conversation starter.” He plays with a yo-yo so much, it sometimes gets in the way of a handshake. “I came to the office (corporate headquarters) and had a couple of awkward handshakes because I forgot I was holding my yo-yo.”
Frank's favorite yo-yos can typically be seen hanging on the walls in his yo-yo room, but all of them have been recently packed up to be moved to his new home. He plans on hanging up the yo-yos as he did in his previous home.
When asked what his first yo-yo was, he said, “I don’t remember much about it since it was so long ago, but I believe it was wooden and blue.”
Frank has everything from performance yo-yos, to novelty yo-yos, with superhero ones in between. When asked to choose a favorite, he picked one he unfortunately lost many years back — the blackbird yo-yo.
It is special because it is made from California redwood trees. He continues to search for an original replacement online, among the many imitations. Davis said, “You can spot an imitation if the blackbird emblem is only on one side. It will look very similar to the original, but unless that emblem is on both sides, it’s a fake.”
Outside of vanity, his favorite yo-yo to do tricks with is his black and purple GTO butterfly yo-yo. He has the string and tension set perfectly so he can perform a variety of tricks including walk the dog, around the world and rock the cradle. His advice is, “when doing any trick, you have to have the yo-yo set right. Sometimes you have to shorten the string or spin the yo-yo to tighten it or loosen it up around the axle just to make it do what you want it to do.”
He has many well-performing, attractive yo-yos, but when it comes to his most interesting, his light-up yo-yos put on a display the others cannot compete with. Frank said, “The light-up ones aren’t much to look at during the day, but are real pretty at night, especially when performing tricks like around the world.”
But not all of his yo-yos are about the looks and performance. One in particular has a bit of sentimental value. His friend found a yo-yo washed up on the bank of a stream during a trip. He snapped a picture of it and sent it to Frank. He told Frank he would trade the yo-yo for one of the arrow heads he knew Frank collected. He doesn’t get to see that friend too often, so that yo-yo is always a reminder of him.
Over the years of collecting, prices of yo-yos have increased tremendously. Frank said, “I bought 6 yo-yos recently. You know how much those cost me? $98.00! When I was younger, I used to cut grass for $1.50 and was able to buy WAY more than 6 yo-yos with that amount of money.” He can still find inexpensive, quality yo-yos, but you have to know where to look. He recently bought these two dozen vintage metal yo-yos at a garage sale for $3.00.
Frank’s quest for yo-yos is far from over. He’ll buy just about any yo-yo he sees because he just has to have them. He said, “If I walk into a store, and they have yo-yos, you best believe I’m gonna buy one. Even if it's a cheap one from a dollar store, I still want to add it to my collection.”
So next time you see that famous round thing on a string, think of the Danos Yo-Yo King — Frank Davis.