In Jimmy Buffet's song, Margaritaville, the lyrics conjure up a sandy beach, but with a problem: “I blew out my flip flop and stepped on a pop top.” The beer and soda can pull tab, colloquially called "pop tops", was invented by Ermal Fraze in 1959 when he was frustrated by a can of beer without a church key handy. He thought there must be an easier, more convenient way to open his beer can. From that frustration, the pop top was born. This ring with a tab attached became hugely popular in the beverage industry, but created a public and environmental nuisance. Millions of pull tabs were tossed onto sandy beaches, city parks or wherever people drank. This little ring of aluminum with a sharp edged tab was sending people to the hospital in droves. What to do with all those pull tabs?
Herman Divers, a handyman in a Topeka, KS hospital, had the answer. This "master of pull-tab engineering" created incredible pieces of folk art, using only the pull-tabs, without any other structural material. Like a daisy chain, Mr. Divers would attach one pull-tab by inserting the tab and bending it around the ring of the next pull-tab. He needed lots of pull-tabs. He asked the hospital snack-bar attendant to start saving them for him. To create a full size model of a Harley Davidson motorcycle, it required 179,200 pull-tabs to complete. Fortunately for public safety and the environment, in the late 1970s Daniel F. Cudzik invented the non-removing stay-Tab, thus eliminating the seemingly endless supply of pull-tabs for Mr. Divers.
Various pieces of Divers' pull-tab art are available to be seen at the Grassroots Arts Center in Lucas, KS.