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|
|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.