The Story of a Toy Inventor and the Daughter Who’s Telling His Tale

This September, toy inventor Eddy Goldfarb will be 100 years old. Most likely, he’ll spend part of his day tinkering in his garage, developing a new idea, and figuring out how to make it work. A process, he says, that is a big factor in his longevity. 

You’ll probably recognize some of Eddy’s most famous inventions: Kerplunk, Giant Bubble Gun, Chutes Away, Arcade Basketball, Stompers, Vac-U-Form, and the iconic Yakity Yak Talking Teeth. It’s no wonder Eddy Goldfarb is a member of the Toy Industry Hall of Fame, along with such notables as Milton Bradley, George Parker (Parker Bros.), Herman Fisher (Fisher-Price), Jim Henson, and Toys R Us founder, Charles Lazarus.

Eddy Goldfarb is the father of more than 800 toys and holds nearly 300 patents. But Eddy is also the father of Lyn Goldfarb, Fran Goldfarb, and Martin Goldfarb. And while I could paraphrase from the hundreds of articles written about Eddy Goldfarb’s fascinating life, no one could tell Eddy’s story better than his daughter Lyn, an Emmy award-winning documentary filmmaker who directed and produced, “Eddy’s World.” Lyn’s 18-minute film tells the story of Eddy Goldfarb’s creative, optimistic, and curious personality, and shares his “philosophies of life and his wisdom on aging.”

So while I started writing this post about the indomitable spirit of Eddy Goldfarb, it’s also the story of a daughter who found her father’s life, his work, and his outlook interesting and worth sharing. And unlike the hundreds of other articles about Eddy on the Internet, this one was literally told through his daughter’s lens. 

“I first started out really to do a family Legacy project,” Lyn told me. “My mother had Parkinson’s and my father was her caregiver, and he didn’t look well either. After my mother died in 2013, my father walked his way back to health and creativity. His optimism allowed him to grieve, but also look forward towards life. That was one of the reasons I started making the film – to capture his grace in aging.

“I realized that it really would be a great little film. And has been great – I really got to know my father in a different way making the film about him and having the opportunity to talk about the items, tell the stories of his life, but also the real privilege of watching him work.”

Because while Lyn does remember playing with prototypes (while being sworn to secrecy) and getting “tons of cereal” sent to the house during the time that Eddy was designing the premium toys that were included in cereal boxes, she didn’t see Eddy as the “toy inventor,” but as her father.

“He went off to work like most parents that went off to work outside of the house,” she says. 

I can relate to Lyn Goldfarb’s memory of the father who just “went off to work.” As children, we don’t really pay attention to what our parents are doing or what they are thinking. We’re more aware of our experiences, and how our parents are seemingly only there to interrupt our agendas.

But have you ever thought about their motivations, their struggles, their loves, their fears? Do you remember some of the stories you heard from and about their lives? 

In the film, Eddy tells the story of meeting his wife of 65 years, Anita Stern, at a dance in Chicago after World War II. He asked Anita to marry him the next day, and nine months later they were wed. Eddy’s tale reminded me of the story I had heard about my father and mother meeting at a USO dance in Chicago during the war as well. Like Eddy and Anita, my folks fell in love immediately, and although my father returned to his deployment two days after meeting her, he would return six months later, and they would marry immediately. 

Lyn’s loving film reminds me how important it is to record those few stories I still have of my parents to keep their memory alive. While my media will not be as professional as Lyn’s, I realize that if I don’t record their stories somewhere, no one other than my siblings and myself will ever know them. If I don’t record the other memories of my parents (who died when I was barely in my 40s) what will my children, and their children, know about their lives? I’ve already lost the stories of my grandparents, how they immigrated to America, how they lived, worked, and loved. I don’t want to lose those few I have of my parents.

Toward the end of the film, Eddy talks about making lithophanes of family and friends. “For some reason, the lithophane has a little magic to it,” he says. Maybe it’s because it’s a lasting memory of someone you love. It’s the same “little magic” that Lyn Goldfarb has created in “Eddy’s World.”

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