Saturday, January 8, 2011

What this blog is about -

Unfortunately, blogging means that your most recent post will appear first. Therefore, if you are writing a story, everything ends up being backwards. Throughout this blog I advise folks to begin with the oldest post and read the blog from the oldest post to the newest post.
But, I will briefly explain here what this blog is about.
My dad, William "Bill" Henry Haynes, was an African American man from New Haven, Connecticut, who, along with other members of his family had worked, or were working, at a toy store in New Haven, Connecticut which was called the Block Shop. The Block Shop was owned by a woman named Ruth Fallgatter, who was a friend of Peter Hodgson, Sr. Pete was an advertising copywriter and in 1949 was going through a rough patch. He became close to my family and my uncle indicates that my grandmother would often take care of him (washing his shirts and feeding him) as if he were a relative. Pete got lucky one night though when he went to a party, was introduced to a useless substance, thought of a possible use for the substance, gathered up some Yale students and some members of my family and began to sell the substance in plastic eggs as Silly Putty. My dad, a 24 year old, and who was probably his only permanent employee, was tasked with running the operation from the production end almost from the start. A recent Yale law student, Macgregor Kilpatrick, came along and became, what I like to think of as the third leg of the stool (Pete, Mac, dad). Many interesting people were associated with Silly Putty and the Block Shop including the the jazz musician (and Yale music professor) Willie Ruff *, Elizabeth Huggins (Yale University librarian and mother of slain Black Panther John Huggins)**, John Payson***, Bob Cecil****, Libby Patton*****, "Tony"******, and others. These folks helped to produce and/or sell the product and they were instrumental in making Silly Putty one of the most successfully marketed toys in U.S. History. They built the company from a $147 loan into a $140 million dollar estate.
In an article entitled SILLY PUTTY CELEBRATES ITS 40TH ..." by James Barron (New York Times - February 15, 1990) he states that "So far 3,000 tons of Silly Putty have been sold - enough to ... circle th Earth at the equator three times. Without stretching". And he wrote that 21 years ago!!

* In his book A CALL TO ASSEMBLY, Mr. Ruff indicates that he was never on the Silly Putty payroll, but he was very close to Pete. Pete asked him to be the musical director of Silly Putty.
** Elizabeth Huggins worked for the Block Shop.
*** John Payson is said to have been a brilliant marketing man who worked for a time on the marketing end of Silly Putty.
**** In Willie Ruff's book "A Call ..." on page 200 he indicates that Bob Cecil was one of the early Yale student workers.
*****Libby Patton worked for Silly Putty.
****** "Tony" worked in the shipping & distribution side of Silly Putty.