Christmas may be over, but many of the ornaments and their inventors will live year-to-year. John Garver is one of those people. Known to most as a twirler, his ornament lives on in Christmas history.
In 1954, he struck a deal with the Mahoning Valley-based Plakie Toy Co. to produce the ornaments. The dazzling trinkets, priced at 50 cents, were an instant hit with 1,000 sold in one day at the former Strouss’ department store in downtown Youngstown, Garver said.
The next year, there were orders for 3 million and even more the following year, but a problem arose. Garver and others had been cutting the center pin — used to conduct the heat — by hand.
“It’s just a common pin, but a machine was used and it dulled pins, and that was the difference as to whether it works or not,” Garver said.
The mistake ended the twirler ornament reign, he said.
Since the twirler heyday, Garver, a physicist, has invented numerous other products, ranging from tennis racket improvements to handles for jump stretch bands, and taught science in Boardman for 30 years. Still, he may best be remembered for the twirler ornaments.
“I get calls every year from people who want them. They’ve looked up the patent and seen my name on it,” he said. “People are still so fascinated by them.”
Photo by scott feldstein