More About the Author
As a kid, I always had WHAM-O toys close at hand. At the epicenter of our household was the kitchen junk drawer filled with a hodgepodge of writing utensils, batteries, flashlights, nail clippers, a tube of SuperElasticBubblePlastic, and an assortment of SuperBalls. Yet this stuff was anything but junk. On the contrary, these were items that couldn't be 'put away' for fear that they might be needed at a moment's notice. If I needed a little bounce in my step, SuperBall was there.
Our garage held the larger WHAM-O playthings. Assorted Frisbee discs, a Trac Ball set, a water-stained Slip 'n Slide box, all at the ready. A Hula Hoop hung from the bicycle rack. The closet just off the garage contained wrapping paper, party supplies, and a can of Silly String. At any given moment, my brothers, sisters, and I were within a few feet of fun. The potential for play was palpable.
I discovered things while at play. I learned that a Frisbee could actually rise on a summer breeze and elevate my mood right along with it. I found out that the sticky mud and itchy grass plastered to my skin could be absolutely ignored if I happened to be standing in a neighborhood line of friends waiting for another trip down the Slip 'n Slide. And I learned, after discovering SuperBall's lethal second bounce the hard way (with a welt on my cheek to prove it), that playing with it thrilled me even more. There was something about its danger that enticed me to take my lumps and, like my favorite boyhood ball, bounce right back.
'We're always seeking what we call 'the magical degree of amazement' in our products,' WHAM-O co-founder Rich Knerr once said. Can you recall the first time you saw a Frisbee float in midair or saw someone spin a Hula Hoop in defiance of gravity? Ever see a group of kids giggle with glee while being chased by a Water Wiggle? Maybe an Air Blaster astonished you or a Wheelie-Bar made you stare in wonder. If a WHAM-O toy ever wowed you, then WHAM-O Super-Book is the book for you.
Rich Knerr and his lifelong friend and WHAM-O partner, Spud Melin, squeezed every drop of fun they could from life and it showed in all that they gave us. Their TV ads were fun. Their print ads were fun. Their hit toys were fun. Their fads, and even their flops, were fun. For sixty years the family culture they created has endured through the massive number of Hacky Sack and Frisbee fans who share that family bond.
Rich Knerr, his daughter, Lori Knerr, and Spud's widow, Suzy Melin, generously gave me something that I have tried to share in these pages. After reading this book, it's my hope that you too will feel welcomed into the WHAM-O family.