Storyteller talks toys in Coupeville
December 9, 2008 · Updated 3:55 PM
Up at the North Pole, Santa Claus is filling his sack with the latest and greatest amusements.
But when he hops in his sleigh for his impending global delivery, the technological wonders he distributes will not reflect the cultural markers that toys used to carry, signaling their origins. After all, a Gameboy or a plastic doll or truck can be made in China, Japan, America or in any number of countries.
The same story is not true of the sack of toys carried by toy lover and performer Allan Hirsch.
The master storyteller — who is also known as “Alleyoop” — will be on hand for his show, the “Real Toy Story,” a demonstration of his collection of fabulous folk toys from around the world at 1 p.m. Friday, Dec. 12 in the Coupeville Elementary School multi-purpose room.
Hirsch tells the fascinating stories behind his large collection of cultural toys while also introducing his audience to the unique sounds of his amazing whistle collection.
“Audiences can learn about the toys that people have played with for thousands of years,” Hirsch said.
“Many of these toys are easy to make and provide a rare opportunity for children and families to hear about the origins of toys, and also have a chance to try them out,” he added.
For more than 20 years Hirsch has been entertaining and educating children. He tells stories, asks riddles, sings songs and plays musical games while sharing his collections, ever-interested in improving the education of children.
“The kids will often ask how to make the toys and ask me where they can get a book about the toys,” Hirsch said.
The program includes tools that became toys, the Pharaoh’s fan, the ancient Chinese Bamboo Dragonfly, the Eskimo yo-yo, an Australian Bull Roarer, Native American darts, a Rachet noisemaker from India, the Graeger from Israel and other unique and interesting toys.
Hirsch will have more than 35 toys on display for participants to enjoy.
“My favorite toy is the limberjack,” Hirsch said of the first toy he ever collected.
The limberjack, a wooden man who dances on a board, is more than
500 years old.
Hirsch also likes the Native American dart made out of a corncob and chicken feathers.
“Many of these objects became toys after they were no longer of use as a tool or weapon,” he said.
In fact, Hirsch said, most technology throughout history came out of military needs exemplifying the old adage that necessity is the mother of invention.
Before the invention of the gun, Eskimos sometimes used a yo-yo to hunt.
Hirsch said he’s still trying to find out the original use for the whirlycopter, a 1,500-year-old propeller on a stick that originated in China.
With so many toys already invented, and new ones coming out every year, Hirsch is even more selective than Santa.
“I only keep my favorites.”
The added bonus to the toy show is being able to hear Hirsch play an amazing collection of whistles from all over the world.
“There are so many whistles out there it would be impossible to collect them all,” Hirsch said.
He does have one commercial whistle in his collection that he particularly likes to show off. That’s his Oscar Mayer Weenie whistle.
The program is free for everyone and is funded by the Friends of the Coupeville Library.
Hirsch will also present the Real Toy Story at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 13 at the Mukilteo Library.