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yoyo weed cutter

The Yo-Yo

by N. Ray Maxie

Y o-Yo, when referring to a person, perhaps a friend of yours, is slang for someone that does stupid things. And Yo: just one yo, is also slang spoken in order to greet someone or get their attention. Like, “Hey Yo.” But Yo is also used as a reply when someone calls your name.

The yo-yo most young boys are familiar with is usually a bright colored spinning reel on a string. The Longman Dictionary of American English says, “The yo-yo (you – you) is a toy you hold in your hand that is made of two circular parts joined together that go up and down a string as you lift your hand up and down.”

The string may be about a 30 to 36 inches long. Maneuver the yo-yo correctly and it will run up and down the string, back and forth, in and out of your hand repeatedly. Sling it out and it will return time and time again. It can be an enjoyable toy to play with; or it can be most frustrating to the beginner. After hours of persistence and practice; total frustration and even anger, the novice can achieve skillful tricks with the yo-yo. Tricks that will highly amaze casual onlookers.

As a barefoot, shirt-tail country kid, most of my own frustration while learning about the yo-yo came when the string would not stay straight. It got seriously twisted and tangled and would not operate properly. The yo-yo just flopped around. It ran sideways so crooked and out of balance that it would not return to my hand. And that ain’t no fun!

The first rule of yo-yo logic is to make sure the string is straight and untwisted. After letting it “unwind” at the bottom of your string, run your finger and thumb down the string to make sure it is not twisted. Then “spool” the complete string between the two disc. Holding it in the right hand, palm down, sling it out again. It should then work properly, returning to your hand.


The Yo-Yo Weed Cutter

M eanwhile, back to the beginning of this story! Well, I started out wanting to tell you about an entirely different yo-yo. In my area of the Ark-La-Tex in NE Texas, the yo-yo was a manual labor work tool. Labor intensive! It has a flat blade on a small metal frame attached to the end of a wooden handle. The better quality ones are made with a serrated blade and may be just a bit heavier than the cheaper ones. You can still find a yo-yo in hardware stores. Although I really believe they aren’t in as much demand as they once were before the advent of some “great” modern power tools.

This yo-yo hand tool is about 3 feet long and used to cut weeds and grass. A lot of my youthful black friends around the Rambo Community called the tool a “weed slinger.” In recent years I have seen it called a “weed whacker”, or “weed buster.” To me it is still a yo-yo and I have seen my dad sling it for hours and hours while cutting his walking trails throughout the oilfield where he worked. If the weeds and grass are big and tough, it has to be slung into the vegetation really hard, perhaps repeatedly hard, to make it cut. And that is mighty close kin to manual labor.

While holding the handle of the yo-yo in one hand, just sling it back and forth; back and forth, cutting the weeds and grass. The blade will cut from both sides. If it is sharp, it will do a pretty good job. Slinging it into the weeds, back and forth, side to side, may in some way resemble the movement of a real yo-yo on a string: descriptive of how it is used. Thus, getting it’s name yo-yo. I don’t know! Sounds reasonable though!

I believe the yo-yo used for weed cutting is known far and wide. When the red string on the gasoline “Weed Eater” won’t cut the tough ones, the yo-yo will. It only requires a little more muscle power.

I have learned the name of some things known in one area may have an entirely different name in other places.

The Yo-Yo by N. Ray Maxie Y o-Yo, when referring to a person, perhaps a friend of yours, is slang for someone that does stupid things. And Yo: just one yo, is also slang spoken in