Sunday, February 2, 2003

Fan hopes others give tops a spin

Prize possessions

By Marsie Hall Newbold
Enquirer Contributor

[photo] Paul Harper and some of his tops.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
| ZOOM |
Who: Paul Harper, 42, of West Chester Township, a producer at WCPO-TV (Channel 9) who loves spinning and throwing tops.

What: A small, wooden top that he has owned since childhood.

Where: Stashed in a basket in the home he shares with Cecilee, his wife of 14 years; their three kids, Molly, 13, Bren, 11, John, 7; and their dog and cat, Beau and Carter.

Good works: "When I was 9 years old," he says, "my family moved from Helena, Mont., to the Caribbean coast in Cartagena, Colombia. My father was a physician and he had spent a few years prior to 1967 with Project HOPE, an effort by UNICEF to immunize children in poor countries."

When the organization set up a land base in Cartagena, Mr. Harper's dad became the administrator.

Family adventure: "So, he packed up his six children, his wife and his dog and moved," Mr. Harper says.

Let's play! Even though the move was an interesting experience for the family, there wasn't much in the way of entertainment for the children. So, they were introduced to the "traditional" toys of the region.

That is when Mr. Harper first took his top for a spin. After all these years, he is still fascinated with the rotating gadget. "I'm pretty good at it," he says with a grin.

The Zen of play: "There's nothing like when you can get a top to land perfectly and pick it up and hold it in your hand," he rhapsodizes. "When you think about it, a spinning toy is a fascinating thing. After you throw it, you have a small amount of time to enjoy it."

"There are a lot of parallels in life," he adds. "Tops are kind of a reflection of a living thing."

Spreading the joy: Mr. Harper's childhood experience had been so positive, he decided he had to re-introduce tops to American kids. Last spring, he found a couple in Delhi Township (Frank and Cheri Bauer, who have since moved to Florida) who helped create something close to his original.

Now he is selling the tops at King Arthur's Court in Oakley and via his Web site,, a beautifully designed site that also includes game instructions and top how-tos.

His new tops are, well, tops, but the original still holds a place in his heart.

"That little guy sort of stored my dreams for 30 years," he says.

Share your prize possessions with Marsie Hall Newbold by mail: c/o The Cincinnati Enquirer, 312 Elm St., Cincinnati 45202 or e-mail: Please include a daytime telephone number.

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