Breaktime: The Fli-Back Paddle

fli-back paddle

Original Paddle Ball Patent No. 1,529,600

This article originally appeared in 2019. I am running it again because of a letter I received from James E. Gibson IV in which he writes:

My great grandfather James Emory Gibson was the founder of Fli-Back Toy Company in High Point, NC.  He didn’t event the toy but he mass produced it, sold it to Macy’s and other toy stores across America, and made it an  extremely popular toy for the time.

In addition to the above, it is noteworthy that Mr. Gibson’s great-grandfather was ahead of his time regarding race relations. Here is a quote from the North Carolina Museum of History:
During World War II, the Fli-Back company employed women, both black and white, to help with production. Following the war, the company continued to hire African Americans at an equal pay rate. A rarity for the time!

The Fli-Back Paddle, also called the Kick-Back, Bolo Bat and Bounce Back Paddle is a toy that I place under the classification of “Toys I Cannot Do.” Have you ever tried to do one of these things? It’s nearly impossible to move beyond one repetition. But yet, there are people who can not only hit the ball more than once; they have set records: 32 to be exact.

Just to name a few, there are records for:

  • Most Consecutive Hits While Blindfolded
  • Longest time to do a paddle ball while holding a pillow (also spinning a toothbrush and balancing on a Rola Bola (whatever that is).
  • Most consecutive hits while juggling two tennis balls
  • Longest time while lying down.

Image result for marilyn monroe paddle ball

Marylin Monroe Using a Paddle While Clark Gable Looks On with Obvious Admiration

But who, you may ask, invented the Fli-Back Paddle? I am glad you asked. It was, in fact, created by William R. Lind in 1921. Mr. Lind’s invention was called the Fli-Back Paddle which he produced in High Point, North Carolina. It was once highly popular, appearing in Newsweek and enjoyed by the likes of Marylin Monroe.

If you are anywhere from good to great at paddle ball or whatever you want to call it, let us know. In fact, if you can get past one hit let us know.

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