Slinky’s Inventor Abandoned His Wealth And Family To Join A Bolivian Cult
Photo credit: Roger McLassus
The Slinky’s origin is as whimsical as its iconic childhood status would suggest. In a happy accident, Richard James watched a spring walk down a pair of stairs. His children stood by laughing in delight.
Two years later, James showcased the newly debuted Slinky as the hot new Christmas gift of 1945. Despite its simplistic background, the Slinky has become one of the quintessential toys in American history for over 70 years.
Richard James did not have as amusing a story. The toy circuit was apparently a very scandalous place. Flushed with Slinky money, he became a serial adulterer. Remorseful for his affairs, James wanted to find religion again. He started sending his money to Episcopalian groups. His religious curiosity led him to join stricter and stricter faiths.
For a man who brought so much joy to children everywhere, James could not bring happiness to his own children. In 1960, James abandoned his six kids, who ranged from two to 18 years old. Richard James’s wife, Betty, had to raise their children on her own while James was busy sending all of Slinky’s profits to a religious cult in Bolivia.
None of James’s kids saw their father in the last 14 years of his life. The only communication was letters urging them to repent and join him in Bolivia. By shepherding the company in her husband’s absence, Betty personally saved the company from bankruptcy and let the toy entertain children to this day.
I'm glad that she was able to keep the Slinky afloat and available for us to enjoy.I think I still have one here somewhere.
Coffee out on the patio this morning. The weather doesn't feel much like Fall to me, though.