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La Grande Observer 11/28/14

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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow YO- YO MAN KEEPS PLAYING

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YO- YO MAN KEEPS PLAYING

'RIDING THE HORSE': Yo-you expert Tommy Moore performs "ride the horse." For the past 11 years Moore has toured North America, holding yo-yo clinics for school children, corporations and others, teaching and performing tricks. (The Observer/ERIN PHILLIPS).
'RIDING THE HORSE': Yo-you expert Tommy Moore performs "ride the horse." For the past 11 years Moore has toured North America, holding yo-yo clinics for school children, corporations and others, teaching and performing tricks. (The Observer/ERIN PHILLIPS).

By Ray Linker

Observer Staff Writer

Gerald Hurley, where are you?

Thats what Tommy Moore, formerly of Baker City, wants to know.

Moore also wants to know if Hurley would like to get together with him to ride the horse and perform some other tricks.

Moore wants to find Hurley and a few other people so they all can relive the memories they helped create 50 years ago. Moore and Hurley were 10-year-olds at the time.

Hurley, who lived in La Grande, traveled with Moore in 1951 to Klamath Falls to participate in the only statewide yo-yo championships ever held.

Moore, in the fourth grade at Churchill Elementary in Baker City, was encouraged by a teacher, Ruby Marsland, to enter a school contest. He was practicing when a fifth-grader, Billy Hardin, noticed him and offered to teach Moore some tricks. Hardin had been to competitions in Boise.

He taught me some tricks and I became the school champion. Hardin moved away the day before school ended and I havent seen him since, Moore said on a stop in La Grande, where his main purpose was to try to locate Hurley.

Contests were held in 1951 in 17 Oregon cities, sponsored by the Eagles. Moore and Hurley traveled to Klamath Falls and Moore won a Schwinn Black Phantom bicycle. He had the highest score of the first-year entrants and finished fifth overall. Most of the competitors were older than he, ranging up to age 15.

Moore, who put on a clinic in Elgin a few years ago, still has a replica of the bike, usually tied to the back of his car, which he uses to travel around the country giving yo-yo clinics.

It was in a box when I won it, and we tied it onto the roof of the car to come back home. I rode the bike in the July 4 parade and the Miners parade a few weeks later, he said.

In La Grande last week, the retired stock broker who now lives in Lake Oswego said he couldnt find Hurley in any local directories. Anyone with any knowledge of Hurley can call Moore at 1-800-368-1726.

Neither can Moore find Paul Ingram, who was a Baker High School student beaten by Moore for the local title to earn the trip to Klamath Falls.

His reason for wanting to unite the old group centers on the fact that F. Donald Duncan whose father, Donald Duncan, bought a Yo-Yo company from a Filipino in California in the 1920s and promoted it into an international activity will attend this years Miners Jubilee in Baker City in July.

He is bringing his fathers collection (of yo-yos) to the Jubilee.

Moore put aside the yo-yo soon after the 1951 competition and didnt pick it up again until he was 48 years old.

Now, for the last 11 years Ive made a business of it, touring North America, holding clinics for school children, corporations and others, teaching and performing tricks.

Moore, who wears one red sneaker and one blue one, did an extremely hard trick, called ride the horse. It was pictured in a Duncan Yo-Yo book of tricks he carries in a brief case along with his other paraphernalia.

He said he has traveled to 800 elementary schools in 16 states. Now, hes coming home, back where he first picked up a yo-yo. And he wants to find those people associated with his early success.

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