Jumping through Hoops
Bev Vines-Haines

The hula hoop craze had peaked by 1962 and looking back, it seems odd I took a summer job working for my friend Carrie's father. He owned a small company that made plastic novelties, primarily hula-hoops, whoopee cushions, and those masks with big noses, glasses and a mustache attached. Everything the family had was tied up in hula hoops. Hundred foot snakes of bright colored plastic tubing lined every wall. Boxes stood open and waiting for the finished hoops. The job was easy. Cut a length, insert a small wooden plug and staple the circle closed. People didn't worry about small or dangerously sharp objects in those days.

But the market dried up that year. There were no more orders. We stood around all day waiting to go to work. Carrie's brother John worked in the back, pouring liquid plastic into the nose molds. Every time we went to the bathroom we got trapped downwind of his assembly line and would be woozy after each trip for fifteen to twenty minutes.

They kept me on for two weeks, just standing and waiting to go to work. We could see Carrie's dad in his office, dialing one store after another, and with every rejection his mood grew darker. Her mother made us walk on tiptoe and we weren't allowed to talk.

I was elated when they let me go.

First published: May 2005
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