1. Archive

Ode to springs

VyVy Corpe, 43, started collecting Slinkys about nine years ago. Its powers of attraction have led to 106 items in her collection. And one husband.

Do you remember your first Slinky?

I think I remember having it. I remember trying to make it go down stairs. We only had one step, one porch step.

Do you have any idea what was going through the mind of the inventor?

There's a long history on it. Richard James was a Navy engineer. (Reading) "Using springs to mount a delicate meter to protect horsepower on battleships, a torsion spring fell off his desk, and it went end over end. That would make a great toy, he said. He came home and he talked to his wife about it, and they started in 1945."

Fallout war technology, I guess.

Eventually they went to Bolivia to join a religious cult. They were more like missionaries. They started giving the money away, they went bankrupt and then his wife came back and kept the business going.

Do you have a favorite?

I think one of my favorites for a long time has been this one. It looks like a piece of machinery. It's very hard to describe.

It's almost like a pentagon, but it has a twist to it, so that it spirals down.

A friend of mine had it. I told her if she ever died I wanted it in her will. She gave it to me about six months later. She didn't want me to put a contract on her.

Do you usually have them out?

We use the Slinky phone. And there's a watch that I wear.

What's the Slinky aspect to that?

See the second hand going around? And it also plays the Slinky song.

You know what I'm going to ask you to do now? Sing the Slinky song.

"What walks down stairs, alone or in pairs, and makes a slinkety sound? A spring, a spring, a marvelous thing, everyone knows it's Slinky. A Slinky, a Slinky, for fun it's a wonderful toy. A Slinky, a Slinky, fun for a girl and a boy."

What do you think the collection says about you?

You'll have to ask my husband. (Turns to Tom Adams, her husband.) What do you think it says about me?

Adams: Well, that's why I married you. When we first went out she asked if I wanted to come over and see her Slinky collection. How could I pass that up?

Corpe: It worked. We got married after two weeks. That was four years ago.

It's a remarkably simple thing. Is that part of the appeal?

It even says that on some of the old boxes. No parts to wear out. Nothing to wind up, nothing to wear out. Even in today's day and age, kids like video games, but you give one who's the right age a Slinky and they love it.

Do you think you've reached a plateau in the collecting?

I think I have. How many more shapes can I get? The butterflies and the hearts I like. They're kind of girly. But how many more shapes can I get? I've got a little square. I'd like a big square, but that's about it.

If it weren't Slinkys, what might you be collecting?

Tweety Birds, the cartoon character.

Wouldn't it be great if you could get a Tweety Bird Slinky?

Yeah, that would be the ultimate.

VyVy Corpe is dogged in her pursuit of Slinkys. And yes, she can recite the Slinky song.