Thursday, August 21, 2014

Last Call for the Trampoline



This is our trampoline. 

Sad, I know. 

Tattered and tired, its grey tarp sagging like skin that no longer fits... let's face it, the poor thing has fallen and can't get up.  These days, our trampoline functions as a makeshift shelter for lizards and weeds more than anything else.  The good news is that, after reading this post, my kids will probably unveil their old friend for one last hurrah before being permanently retired from use. 

The trampoline was purchased at a Toys R Us in Sydney, Australia.  To this day, I question the logic of moving the trampoline with us overseas, but it didn't sell with the bicycles and baby stroller, and we couldn't bear to throw it out with the rubbish.  No one seemed to have need for an old-style trampoline that wasn't safe. The new ones were round with netting on all sides to prevent overly-exuberant children from toppling willy-nilly off the sides. We lived dangerously.

But in all likelihood, the decision to keep our trampoline probably had more to do with this:

Surfing the Wobble

And this:
The perfect spot to share an icy pole with friends after school.

How could we possibly leave those memories behind? 

In 1926, George Nissen was just eleven years old, my daughter's age now, when he decided that the safety net he saw at the circus would make an ideal backyard toy for him and his friends. 

I wrote a poem about the invention of the trampoline which appeared in the February 2014 issue of Boys' Quest:

George Nissen, Boy Inventor
by Michelle Heidenrich Barnes
 
A day at the circus launched a boy’s dreams
To sail through the air… but not as it seems.
His name was George Nissen, eleven years young,
When he watched the performers above as they swung.
Leaping and flipping and spinning, and yet
What thrilled the boy most was the bounce of the net. 
The net was for safety but seemed like such fun,
George figured that he and his friends should have one.
Later, in high school, at last he was able
To work on constructing his own “bouncing table.” 
For years he kept at it until it was right—
Portable, safe, and superior flight.
With hope and persistence his dreams set aloft
When sales of his Trampoline finally took off.
George Nissen, the dreamer, inventor, and boy,
Bounced into success with a high-flying toy.

George Nissen with a friend on his high-flying toy


Here is the version from the magazine, reprinted with permission and special thanks to Neal Levin, whose illustration truly captures the excitement of living dangerously.  (He writes hilarious children's poetry too, by the way! I'm looking forward to featuring him on the blog some time next year.)



Now speaking of living dangerously, if you haven't yet sent in your stanza for this month's ditty challenge, you only have ONE WEEK LEFT to do so and be entered into a random drawing for Lori Degman's picture book, Cock-a-Doodle Oops!  At last check, Farmer McPeeper was still sawing logs despite this week's wake-up attempts by a hound dog, a flea, and a fish.  Next week we'll need to get serious, though, so I've got a couple of heavy-duty reinforcements lined up!  Join me next Friday for an end-of-month wrap-up and hoedown.

Irene Latham is collecting reinforcements of another kind.  Visit her at Live Your Poem for this week's Poetry Friday roundup.





31 comments:

  1. Love the poem! I can tell you're a lover of research, too!

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    1. Thanks so much, Diane. I do enjoy research -- hoping to do more of it actually.

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  2. Wow, Michelle, you are so channeling Shel Silverstein in this poem! Congratulations on it appearing in Boy's Quest. How exciting!! And you know, you had me at the trampoline that had fallen and can't get up. :) Thank you for sharing! xo

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    1. That's some compliment, Irene-- thank you. Wouldn't it be nice to have Shel Silverstein's voice whispering in my head each time I sit down to write!

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  3. This is great, Michelle. It never occurred to me that someone had to "invent" the trampoline. I have fond memories of sleeping outside on one at a friend's house! Congrats on the publication!

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    1. Thanks, Linda. They're great for naps in the sunshine too-- especially on a cool spring or autumn day.

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  4. Brilliant poem, Michelle. Congrats on the publication! It was fun learning who invented the trampoline :).

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    1. He's quite a character-- I read he was still doing yoga headstands at age 92!

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  5. The poem is marvelous. It fairly bounces along! I can see why Boys Quest snapped it up. What a clever way to highlight an interesting inventor. George Nissan, boy inventor, is my nugget of knowledge for today! The photo is a bonus. Love that bouncing kangaroo!

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    1. Thanks so much, Joyce. I love that kangaroo photo too!

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  6. What a fun, bouncy poem about an interesting inventor! Love Neal's illustration too.

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    1. Isn't Neal's illustration fun? And such a thrill for me to discover that pre-Poets' Garage connection!

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  7. Love this, Michelle! I grew up with a tramp (before they were common), and so did our kids. We FINALLY gave it to our neighbors this past spring (youngest daughter--18) because she couldn't bear to let it go before then. so many good memories. Love your bouncy poem!

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    1. Ha! That's the reaction I got from my son Dylan (14), after reading this post. He says, "don't even think of getting rid of that trampoline!"

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  8. I had a trampoline when I was growing up, too. Love the poem about its invention! My children never had one. (I married a lawyer.)

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    1. LOL... our homeowners insurance agent wasn't particularly thrilled with the idea of a trampoline either.

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  9. Congratulations on being published in Boys' Quest. I especially love the last two lines of your poem!

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  10. We had a trampoline just like that - unsafe, but so much fun! Loved the poem, too - o much fun to read aloud.

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    1. Thanks Tara. It's a shame our society has gotten so overprotective when it comes to play equipment!

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  11. Loved reading this post, Michelle, and those memories. Priceless. The photographs look great. Yay to living dangerously! :)

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    1. You said it, Myra! Childhood just wouldn't be the same without a sprinkling of reckless abandon.

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  12. I had never heard of George Nissen, but thanks to your poem I have now! Congrats on the Boys' Quest pub credit, too! And the pictures you included - priceless! =)

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    1. Thanks so much, Bridget. I confess, I am quite fond of those little munchkins.

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  13. Inspiration can be found anywhere, all we have to do is look, maybe bounce around a bit. Congrats on your publication in Boys' Quest! While I was at the dentist for a routine visit, some friends of mine came in with their 7-year-old son . . . to get his front (baby) tooth extracted following a, yes, you guess it, trampoline accident. :-0

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    1. Oops. :o/ I guess we've been pretty lucky as far as that goes. Did have one broken bone from a bike tumble, though.

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  14. What a great post, Michelle! I love how you shared your family's experience with the trampoline, and the photos too. Your poem is a gem in the way it tells the story of George Nissen in a few economic but fun lines.

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    1. Thanks very much, Violet! I'm so glad you enjoyed the post and poem.

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  15. My comment from Friday never made it, I don't think. I loved that you introduced us to this child inventor! When I was a kid, our neighbors had a trampoline for their dog. You could just see his head above the fence when he bounced. Bark boing!

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    1. Ha! How fun is that?! Thanks for coming back to leave your comment again, Tabatha.

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  16. I love your poem, Michelle - congrats!!

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