Enumclaw’s yo-yo man has the world on a string

You may have seen him walking around the streets of Enumclaw doing tricks for us; that is, yo-yo tricks with colorful names like Cat’s Cradle, Double or Nothing and Spirit Bomb.

He’s known as the “Enumclaw Yo-Yo Guy” and there are plenty of entries found on Google; a fan created a Facebook page and he’s available on YouTube. Though he has absolutely no idea how many hits his sites might receive, I’m certain he’s much more popular than he’ll readily admit. A few months ago, some kids filmed a documentary of him and it was shown at the Chalet Theater High School Film Festival.

His name is Tim Gregory and he’s a handsome, alert, quick-witted fellow who, with his long hair and stubble beard, looks like an anachronism from the late 1960s or early ‘70s. As a clear indication of how much societal definitions and values have changed during the past 40-plus years, a local city official approached him the other day and, instead of recognizing a surviving hippie when he saw one, the bureaucrat asked Tim if he was homeless and needed help.

“No thanks,” Tim quickly replied. “I’m doing fine. No help needed.”

Given my background and perspective, I assumed that was the case from the moment we met. In fact, he lives in a home near the downtown area, is happily married, and has a daughter and two grandchildren.

Tim was born and raised in the Spokane region and, after bouncing around some other Seattle suburban locations, moved to Enumclaw in 1991. He spent five years working for the Red Dot corporation, building and installing air-conditioners and heating units for semi-trucks, ambulances, fire engines and other large rigs, and then was abruptly sidelined with health problems. Thereafter, he spent a considerable amount of time in and out of hospitals, visiting several doctors and specialists. Along the way, he ingested massive doses of some very powerful, medical drugs that would have knocked an elephant off its feet.

Nothing solved the problems. Out of sheer desperation – willing to try anything once – he turned to Carrie Fang’s acupuncture clinic on Wells Street. Believe it or not, it worked. It’s been years since Tim has felt as good as he does today.

During his bout with illness, he begin walking about Enumclaw streets, just for the exercise. More than three years ago, he started fooling around with yo-yos to give him something to do on his walks and, friends, the skill he’s acquired with this childish toy is really quite surprising. Of course, he’s not playing with an ordinary drugstore yo-yo. It’s a high-powered, highly refined and engineered aluminum yo-yo with a heavy-duty, central spindle surrounded by 10 teeny-tiny ball-bearings. And he throws that damn thing over his arms, behind his back and through many hastily constructed, complex string networks formed by the yo-yo- string itself.

I told him he should take his talent to the Seattle Farmer’s Market and, along with the other artists, like mimes and street musicians, he could probably make a few nickels. Tim just shrugged off my suggestion. Obviously, he’s not in it for the money. He just likes to see people laugh and smile.