Photo: Dr. John Meisenheimer is seen
with part of his museum-quality display of thousands of yo-yos
in Orlando, Fla.
Some of his yo-yos are antiques, including
a circa 1790s brass toy from England; a few are rare, like
a wooden prototype—one of only six known to exist—made around
1955 by the Duncan Toy Co. for Coca-Cola; and others are quirky,
like the ones that blow bubbles, generate sparks or emit scents.
One of Meisenheimer's most unusual finds—and
definitely his largest—is a 6-foot-tall, 820-pound yo-yo made
in 1990 by a woodworking class at Shakamak High School in
Jasonville, Ind. (pop. 2,448). When he spotted the super-sized
toy on eBay, it was being stored at a Florida fairground.
"I was the only person to bid
on it," says Meisenheimer, who keeps the wooden giant in a
backyard shed. "You can imagine the logistics; we had to get
a flatbed truck and a forklift to move it," he recalls. "It
is operational, and I keep threatening to get a crane and
Meisenheimer's fascination began while attending
the University of Kentucky in Lexington in the early 1980s.
Rather than standing around doing nothing in between classes,
he bought a yo-yo and practiced tricks.
As his skills improved, so did his interest.
Soon he was scouting antique malls and flea markets, buying
armloads of vintage yo-yos and learning everything he could
"It is the history that fuels my passion,"
he says. "Finding an unusual yo-yo is like finding a new piece
Part of his house has been turned
into a museum quality display of roughly 3 thousand yo's yos.
There are more in the attic...the total may be 10 thousand.
He's lost count.
It's not unusual for John
"Doc Lucky" Meisenheimer, 51, to pull a yo-yo from
his pocket and perform a trick or two while standing in the
supermarket checkout line or mingling with guests at a party.
Sometimes the Orlando, Fla., dermatologist even yo-yos while
conferring with patients.
His wife, Jacquie, 47, takes her husband's
antics in stride. Before the couple married 14 years ago,
many dates were spent shopping for yo-yos. "I sort of knew
what I was getting into," she says, laughing.
Bob Malowney, director of the National Yo-Yo
Museum in Chico, Calif., calls Meisenheimer the dean of yo-yo
collectors. "He has dug deeper into the history of the yo-yo
than anyone," he says. "He shares his knowledge unselfishly,
and his world's Largest
Yo-Yo collection is a cause of admiration."
Meisenheimer's impressive collection continues
to grow. He buys and trades yo-yos online; patients bring
him yo-yos from around the world; and, any time he unwraps
a gift—well, he's pretty sure what's inside. "It's usually
a yo-yo that's kind of neat, or maybe one I don't have, and
that's perfect," he says.