When I started in this business, Marvin Glass & Associates was a juggernaut of the toy industry. With their best days behind them, they were still a force in the industry. Much of their success was built on the backs of what they called DPs, or displaced persons – talented craftsmen and model makers who had fled Europe during WWII.
Leon Jaworski was one of the DPs that filled the shop of the legenday Marvin Glass studios when I went to work there, and he is creditied with being the designer and model maker that actually built the first iconic Mr. Machine, one of Marvin Glass's early hits that became the logo for Ideal toy company for years.
As it was told to me, Leon's story is this: Imagine 1943 or thereabouts. He was living in the USSR, and one morning the German tanks roll in. Leon hears them outside, awakens the family, tells them to gather what they can carry, and they flee the German army in a horse drawn cart.
They trade all of the family belongings and the horse for a cart full of candy that they then push on foot, trading candy for favors and assistance as needed, and thus make their way across Poland, Germany, Belgium, and finally walk all the way to France.
From there they catch a boat across the channel to England, and finally to the US – Chicago – where Leon finds a home in the halls of the greatest toy design studio the world has ever known, Marvin Glass & Associates.
Leon Jaworski and the other DPs would go on to leave their mark on the toy industry and every other industry in the aftermath of WWII. Thank you, Jaworskis, for your contributions to our industry and our culture. I hope someone, somewhere, gathers and collects the stories of these contributors to our industry and our cultural history before the memories are forever lost.
Any stories or history you can share?