Friday, June 7, 2013

What To Do When Stuck Indoors by a Hurricane

Despite my fear we would be trapped indoors all day Thursday by Andrea, the tropical storm, I dashed out with my kayak in the morning, seeing that radar showed a window of time when no thunder or tornadoes were expected. There was a light rain the whole time I was kayaking, but it was otherwise still and peaceful. One would never know that a fearsome storm was due in a few hours. Very few people were out on the water, probably all holing up in fear of Andrea. I drifted peacefully along a narrow estuary, lined with marsh grass and oyster beds...and billion dollar homes. Those mansions were impressive, though not as impressive as dolphin, which I didn't see that morning.

The rain descended upon us in the afternoon, and so I googled "what to do in Hilton Head when stuck indoors by hurricane." The very first hit was: "take a tour of the Kazoobie Kazoo factory and make your own Kazoo!"

"We have to do this," I told Asherel.

She might not have agreed if she could have done anything else, but Tropical Storm Andrea had trapped us into desperation.
So, we hopped into the car for the hour drive to Beaufort, SC, where the ONLY plastic kazoo factory in the entire USA is located.

Kazoobie Kazoos not only produces a very high quality plastic kazoo that will last a lifetime and is completely safe for all age children and adults, BUT ALSO, gives an informative lecture and tour of kazoo history and their factory. When the tour is over, each member gets to make their own kazoo! And this smorgasbord of delight costs only $4!

We slapped our money down and joined the mobs of other kazoo fans- two parents and a rather shy 6 year old. First, we got to see the mold for the plastic kazoo.

I love the title of the mold machine: kazoo injection mold. That makes the kazoo sound almost threatening. So, much to my teen's chagrin, I was giggling within seconds of the kazoo tour. Next, we got to see the kazoo museum. You would not believe how many kazoo types there are in the world! We saw cow kazoos, gold plated kazoos, and my personal favorite, for the rock band type, an electric kazoo.

For about $50-$80, very nice retro look amps come with the electric kazoo. The tour guide played a variety of kazoos for us, and the electric kazoo definitely wins the prize for loudest kazoo. One really must pause to wonder who would spend $100 or more for all the supplies for an electric kazoo. Apparently, some people do. (Truth be told, I was tempted....) And lest anyone not take the kazoo seriously, we saw samples of professional kazoos, appropriately labeled: "professional kazoo."

We were assured that kazoos are a serious instrument, and many famous bands, including the BEATLES, have used kazoos in their repertoire. After our self guided tour through the kazoo museum, we all sat down to watch the kazoo movie. This was to educate us about kazoos. I would have been more educated if I could have stopped laughing and concentrated, but that's just me. The people in the row behind me weren't even chuckling, which I don't get AT ALL. Anyway, the movie taught us the history of kazoos with little animated kazoo characters. Asherel glared at me when I was disrupting the whole class with gales of laughter at the kazoos who were WWII soldiers. Now I am sorry, but NO ONE thinks of kazoos in the same sentence as WWII soldiers.

Anyway, when the movie ended, get this....we had a quiz! The tour guide asked us all kinds of questions to see if we had been paying attention. The only one who knew any of the answers was Asherel, who I might add, had been pretending to treat this whole kazoo tour with a touch of disdain.

I think the tour guide was heartily disappointed in all of us, but she stoically led us all to the "factory" where the only plastic kazoos in the entire USA are manufactured. The factory was as big as my living room and was thronging with two employees. One employee was our tour guide, who also fills many other shoes when not leading tours. The other was busily pulling apart the little plastic "resonators". Cheap kazoos use plastic bags or wax paper for the all important resonator, but Kazoobie Kazoos use real special plastic that does not degrade, mold, or rip...and will last even longer than we will on earth. Therefore, when you plunk down your $3.49 for a Kazoobie Kazoo, you are setting up a lasting legacy and inheritance. ( I quickly made a note in my smartphone to add my kazoo to our will.) The tour guide repeated several times how durable their kazoos are. The Kazoobie Kazoo will last longer than you!

Once the little resonator was separated from all the other staticky resonators, it gets plopped in the kazoo and a special cap is placed on top. Then, the cap end of the kazoo is slipped into a machine that goes "THWACK!" and the cap is permanently sealed to the body of the kazoo. Small children are completely unable to rip it off and swallow and choke on it.

After that, we moved on to the next machine in the factory. This machine could print any custom label on the kazoo instantly. Many businesses are apparently quite fond of kazoos and print customized labels and then hand them out to their employees. I have never worked for any business like that, but I really want to.

The next machine we saw is the one that cuts out the all important "resonators". This machine cuts perfect little circular plastic shapes out of the special plastic material. I instantly saw the flaw in this machine. The operator, who incidentally is one of the TWO employees of the nation's only plastic kazoo factory, has to stand at the machine, feed the plastic manually, and depress the plastic cutting device manually with at least 3 or 4 button presses. I watched the tedious task and was certain these two employees will have arthritic button pressing thumbs within a year. Surely, someone could make a machine that would do that task automatically.

Incidentally, I asked the tour guide how she got involved in the kazoo industry. Did she always know, even as a little girl, that she wanted to grow up and work with kazoos? Any special education needed? No! Surprisingly, she needed a job and just happened to know the owner who needed an employee! Some people have all the luck.

Now came the fun part! We had seen the factory operations and it was time to assemble our own kazoo. We had watched the masters do it, and now we were qualified to make our own. Asherel closed her eyes and grabbed any color she latched upon for her kazoo. I knew that my kazoo would be green, my favorite color. The body of the kazoo was already formed. We had to do two delicate operations after selecting our kazoo. First we had to take one valuable durable plastic resonator and drop it carefully in the cap area. This is not easy if you are prone to static fingers, as I am. But, even I managed, and then you place the cap over the resonator. Lastly, you stick the cap end of the kazoo in the machine that goes "THWACK!", which seals the cap permanently so young children can not get it off and choke on it.

We all successfully assembled our kazoo, and each of us then tried our newly minted instrument. I was appalled that there were several members of our tour that did not know how to play a kazoo. What is this world coming to? Asherel only played a brief note, but it was clear she at least knew how. I played a whole song, despite the rolling eyes, and dismay on the face of my daughter. I started with "You are my sunshine" and then segued into "America the Beautiful". By then Asherel was turning purple, but a few of the others who were catching on to the intricacies of kazoo musicianship joined in for a brief phrase.

As we headed home, I pulled out my kazoo to accompany the Rolling Stones song that Asherel was blasting on the radio. She made me promise that she would take one picture of me with my kazoo if I stopped playing it for the rest of the car ride home.

Honestly, I had no idea tropical storms could be so much fun. I almost hope it rains today so I can see what is second on the list of "what to do in Hilton Head when stuck indoors by a hurricane."

For You, O Lord, have made me glad by what You have done, I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands. (Psalms 92:4 NASB)

-save a dog-


  1. Wonderful post, Vicky! I felt as if I were there with you. Now you have to go to Gaffney to the U.S. Flag Factory!

  2. Oh teenagers can be so much fun when we adults decide to truly enjoy life with loads of enthusiasm in a child like manner. My teenage grandson dislikes my out bursts of laughter at the movies when something I hear or see tickles my funny bone. I enjoyed the Kazoo tour with you too.

  3. We could have done that if I had known! On our many days of rain at Emerald Isle last summer we went to Beaufort and ever knew that was there. The grandkids would have loved it. I'm glad you enjoyed it even with a teenager.