Once upon a time I gave my brother-in-law what I thought was the best Christmas present ever.
It was a pogo stick and as soon as I saw it in the window of a toy store I knew I had to buy it. I thought it would get massive kudos as an alternative to socks and jocks. But sadly I was mistaken. And to this day they will still ask me “Why?” As if my answer of “Because” isn’t reason enough.
Anyway, after springing/bouncing down the hallway a few times – and careening into the odd wall – my brother-in-law consigned the pogo stick to history and it was never seen again. But I was reminded of it today when I shared news of another planned purchase – this time a unicycle.
It belongs to a friend who plans to sell it and I intend to make it mine. But again, my family wanted to know “Why?”
To be fair, this question was prefaced by the knowledge I have not been on a bicycle in 10 years. But they’re missing the point entirely. Which is that you don’t own a unicycle to ride it, you own it because it’s cool.
Which brings us back to the pogo stick. Specifically, the question of who invented it. Turns out, as it so often does, that it was an American, by the name of George Hansburg.
While various incarnations of the toy – particularly in wood – had been pottering around previously, it was George who secured the patent for his all-metal version in 1919.
And while they’re a little passé today, in the 1920s particularly, they were much loved, featuring in everything from the Ziegfeld Follies to weddings and world record campaigns. But there was one difficulty with the early designs, the presence of only a single handle. So George solved this problem in 1957 with a patent on a two-handled pogo.
That’s a lot of years to spend thinking about a bouncy stick!