Every once in a while, a renovation uncovers a sign from the Upper West Side of yesteryear. Luckily, our readers tend to snap photos. This weekend, Sarah Andress caught a glimpse of one of her favorite stores from childhood on Columbus Avenue between 73rd and 74th streets.
“The Last Wound up was my favorite store when I was about 7 and my family moved to West 75th. It was a truly wonderful store literally crammed full of hundreds of cardboard boxes of wind-up knick knacks. I still have a miniature pull-back car I bought with my allowance, probably in 1984. It still works! I think that right next to this – sort of ironic – was Think Big, full of comically giant versions of things like Bayer aspirin.”
The Last Wound-Up sold wind-up toys and other humorous gifts. The Times spoke to owner Nathan Cohen in 1986:
“People have been living in a push-button world so long that they want to actually wind something up,” Mr. Cohen said in his store at 290 Columbus Avenue, at 73d Street. ”With a wind-up toy, you’re giving life.”
The Last Wound-Up carries traditional items – a clown on a scooter, a bear playing a balalaika – but other toys are more likely to stir imagination than memory. For example, there are the four pieces of sushi that scoot and spin about, hamburgers on wheels, a football with feet, a walking set of chattering dentures and a mouse that somersaults.
Mr. Cohen seems to delight in demonstrating his plastic and metal toys for customers. To further the cause of dalliance, he has written ”The Tin Commandments”: 1. Don’t postpone joy. 2. Toy with your future and spring to life. 3. He who winds up first will never wind up last. 4. Wind-ups spring eternal. 5. Those who hate toys hate themselves. 6. Those who hate themselves hate others. 7. Toys don’t hate. 8. Today is the only day. Invest in NOW. 9. Youth has nothing to do with age. 10. Buy toys, not medicine.
Here’s a photo of The Last Wound-Up from 1982, by Daniel Weeks.
It’s not clear when The Last Wound-up closed for good. The storefront, which most recently housed clothing store A Tempo, will soon be home to children’s clothing store Wyatt Lily.