My previous post captured my grandfather in a bit of a chewed-up mood, so I think I’ll go in another direction this week … back to the days of his youth.
I can’t guarantee he was in a good mood when he made these undated sketches in his personal journal, but I imagine they brought back good memories. And of course, he always liked to roll up his sleeves and get into a little technical detail, so these sketches would have entertained that side of his personality.
First, we have him brain-dumping info on how to make every fourth-grader’s dream ride:
(Maybe some sailor out there can let me know what kind of knot “C.P.” is, as featured at top left.)
I’m not an engineer … but I have trouble seeing how the “steering bar” would work, given no apparent mechanism to actually change the direction of the wheels. Maybe it was less a steering bar and more a hang-on-and-shut-up bar.
No matter. I imagine this sort of scooter — requiring minimal and fairly common materials — was all the rage among the boys of Springfield, Massachusetts, during the Harding administration.
I’m sure if you told those kids they’d have to wear a polyurethane helmet for safety while they rode their scooters, they would have looked at you like you had three heads.
If you’d told them that a design of their scooters would show up on a worldwide computer network in the 21st century … well, I dunno how they would have responded to that, but it would have been fun to see.
(Sometimes I suspect that the technology for time machines really exists, but the people who have it are holding it back b/c they’re trying to save the people of 1870 from a steady stream of 21st-century visitors saying, “Look at my iPhone!” It was bad enough people in the Sepia Age had to deal with cholera and dysentery; they shouldn’t also have to deal with time-tripping jerks with selfie sticks. They didn’t get paid enough for that.)
“All well and good,” you say, “but summer is over. It’s the season when scooters get stowed in the back of the garage. Whaddya got for me for the coming cold winter?”
Ask and you shall receive, Bunky.
Unlike the scooter above, the Jumper appears to have been a commercial product, requiring things like braces and a steel runner — not the sorts of parts a kid was likely to have knocking around in the basement.
I also note the cost associated with the Jumper’s different height options. $3 to $5 in 1925 dollars is $41 to $68 in today’s money, if the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ online inflation calculator is to be believed.
That’s maybe not out of a parent’s reach, pre-Depression, but not an impulse buy either; one imagines plenty of western Massachusetts kids delivering the local paper in hopes of raising money for a Jumper.
Apparently Jumpers were fairly common then. A Google search for “the jumper” and “adams mass” turns up a news story from January 1930 in the North Adams Transcript newspaper. In the story, a man suffers a broken left arm and injury to an already crippled leg when he is hit by a kid riding a Jumper. The vehicle is mentioned with no apparent explanation, which suggests that anyone reading the story should have known what one was.
(Modern newspapers are famous for overexplaining stuff on the assumption that some reader, somewhere, lacks a relevant bit of background. That was perhaps not the case in 1930.)
Anyway, if you want to make a Jumper of your own, my grandfather has laid out all the relevant parts. Not sure what nostalgia-trip inspired him to take up his pencil, but he did.
I don’t see a steering mechanism here either, and a Jumper has enough solid wood in it to hurt anyone it runs into at speed. So if you build one of your own, be a good chap and don’t hit anybody, eh what?