Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Toe Hoe

I met Jerry in Seattle in 1987. He lived down the block on First Avenue West in Queen Anne, across the street from the Safeway more or less. He, as it turned out, was schizophrenic. Nonetheless, we were friends for a number of years.

He had a medical discharge from the United States Navy and had some money. He was originally from Nevada--Sparks--but lived with his grandmother in Seattle. He had been a lightweight--maybe bantamweight--boxer in the service, but in his heart he was an entrepreneur. He invented games and candlesticks and, I'm not sure. But the one device he did invent and bring to market was the Toe Hoe.

The Toe Hoe was a bladed metal contraption with straps. You put your foot in it and used it to hoe the earth for flower beds or gardens and anything else you could think of. He had them manufactured and had them advertised. I used to have a copy of his commercial. I imagine it was shown on late night TV--one of those Popeil or Wham-O like commercials with footage of the toe hoe in use while a breathless narrator talked it up.

I was freshly married and my wife and I thought it was very funny. But, of course, it was also rather sad. Jerry told me that he got a call one day from some older man who had purchased his product and wanted to know how to make it work--evidently it didn't quite go over as advertised. Besides a copy of the TV commercial, I bought a toe hoe. When we got it, my wife and I laughed again.

I don't think I ever even tried to use it.

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