Not quite two years old, the Syrian Republic last week achieved world notice for the first time because of the Yo-Yo.
Syria was snatched from Turkey during the War, handed to France as a Mandate in 1922. Thereafter bloody work began for the French Foreign Legion. Years of pumping machine gun bullets into Syria's more savage tribes finally brought peace in 1927. Under French dominance, the so- called "Syrian Republic" was proclaimed and provided with a Constitution and a Sheik Premier. It was he, the potent Sheik Taj-ed-Din Effendi, who made Syria news last week.
Extant is an old French print showing the future King Louis XIV playing when dauphin with his Yo-Yoa child's top so made that when thrown from the hand it starts to spin as its string unwinds, then winds up the string on itself and returns to the hand. During the past two years a Yo-Yo craze has swept Europe. Among smart Parisians, Berliners and Londoners are hundreds of exalted Yo-Yo addicts, notably Edward of Wales. Just before Edouard Herriot fell as Premier of France, a Paris weekly pictured his frantic appeals to all sections of the Chamber of Deputies by printing a composite photograph in which the Premier seemed to stand on the tribune, playing with a Yo-Yo which skipped and darted into every quarter of Parliament. Caption: "Will he win the game of Yo-Yo?"
M. Herriot lost and about the time of his fall Syrians seriously took up the Yo-Yo, hopped about Damascus and Aleppo, delightedly Yo-Yoing.
Moslem priests, scandalized, scratched their canny heads. Syria, they recalled, was suffering from droughts. That fact gave them an idea.
Solemnly the priests waited upon Sheik Taj-ed-Din. "Excellency, the Yo-Yo is the reason for the drought!" they cried. "The up-and-down movement of these infidel tops counteracts the prayers of the pious for rain. Allah is angry! Rain will never fall again in Syria while the wicked play with Yo-Yos."
Taking no chances, Syria's Sheik Premier issued a drastic decree banning Yo-Yoing throughout the young Republic, threatened heavy penalties. According to despatches from Damascus, "it rained the very next day."
Filipinos are credited with coining "Yo-Yo's" present name. When the Duke of Wellington played with one. Englishmen called it a "Quiz." Most dictionaries, including Webster's, stick to the old name "Bandalore."
In modern France some garrison commanders punish with two days in "clink" a poilu found playing with a Yo-Yo, consider it a menace to discipline. Modern Yo-Yoing was launched in London by Baron Beaverbrook's Conservative Evening Standard which coached its readers in endless Yo-Yo tricks: "loops." "break-ways," "skinning the cat," "three-leaf clovers" and "Bow Bells." Most dangerous Yo-Yo maneuver is "around the world," in which the spinning top gyrates about its thrower's head in a circle which alternately widens and contracts.