A Different Drummer

In the premier edition of Secrets of the City, Rick unwraps a locally-made toy gem.

The holidays are over!  So, which of this year’s toys will survive? Will any of those new games, dolls and action figures still be around next December?

There was a time when tons of toys were made on the North Side in the Western Avenue factory of Wolverine Supply & Manufacturing Co. (named for the weasel, not the X-Man). From about 1903 until 1970, this family-run business made sheet-metal toys that scooped sand and moved marbles — toys that wound up and performed, toys that still survive and continue to delight.

Terry Mowrey lives in Wexford and collects these locally made playthings. He recently showed me Wolverine’s toy No. 27, the “Drum Major.” Mowrey says it first appeared in Wolverine catalogs in 1932. The drummer’s design changed a bit throughout the next 20 years or so, but his face remained the same — and he forever plays a bright little marching rhythm.

Categories: Rick Sebak