If you’re of a certain age—between, say, thirty and seventy—you may have had a Wonder Horse. Most were plastic and mounted on springs that squeaked when you rode it (and you rode for as long as you could, probably after you had outgrown it).

My great-great uncle, William Baltz, invented the Wonder Horse, which became one of the most popular toys of the twentieth century. Yet when you consider what Uncle Will had to overcome, it’s amazing the horse ever got made. One of fourteen children, he was born in rural Pocahontas, Arkansas. A second-generation German immigrant, he didn’t speak English until he was nine, and he didn’t go to school. He was well into middle age, a carpenter with a problem to solve, when he retreated to his basement workshop and later emerged with an idea that brought joy to millions of children.

Until the early 1990s, the Wonder Horse was built in a small factory in a small town by people whose personal histories were as humble as Uncle Will’s. "That Rockin’ Motion" is the story of a toy and its inventor—how one man’s idea sparked the world’s imagination.

Lisa Sorg is an award-winning journalist and the editor of the Independent Weekly. She sees Wonder Horses everywhere she goes now, most recently in a front yard in Portsmouth, Ohio, and in the film "Winter’s Bone." For those planning a visit to Pocahontas, Arkansas, she recommends breakfast at the Route 166 Diner.

Lisa Sorg earned the Certificate in Documentary Arts at the Center for Documentary Studies in December 2010. cdsporch.org/archives/3954

Loading more stuff…

Hmm…it looks like things are taking a while to load. Try again?

Loading videos…