March 0003

 


 

Raoul Writes, Short Time, some Revelations About Vince, Motorized Pogo Sticks.

AN APPRECIATIVE READER

Ronkpid Scharf? i no speak inglees so good, but he ok by me!

Raoul, Cochabamba

 

HOUR GLASS FACTOID

Hour glasses do not measure an exact hour. They are all calibrated to 59 minutes and 50 seconds. This is to give you time to turn them over in case you want to measure a second hour. If you want to measure one hour precisely, small ten second glasses are available from specialist suppliers. You can use these as supplementary timers.

 

VINCE AGAIN

 

Al, what’s the matter? Did you lose my address? How come I haven’t had any money from you?

Vince Motlow, Vince’s Vinyl.

PS, if you’re short, I’ll take a cheque.

 

Vince, I’m sure something crazy’s going on. I’m going to find out what it is, and expose you right here!

Marvin Gunk, c/o Joe’s Diner, Hicksville.

 

OK Marvin, I’ll fess up. My name keeps on changing because I’m an extremely unstable individual. Everything about me keeps on changing. I even get different socks three times a day, and I’ve got a whole wardrobe full of false beards. At the moment I’m wearing a Basque beret, but I’m going to have to put on another hat any time now. Have you got any idea how difficult it is to keep track of thirty seven different watches? And sometimes I take sugar in my coffee, sometimes not. Right now, I put a whole bag of sugar into every cup, but I’ve got to put the milk in with an eye dropper. Yesterday, I didn’t take sugar at all.

Vince Peilow, Vince’s Vinyl

 

Oh my God! Vince, I’m so sorry. I thought something crazy was going on! Listen, if you ever need any help, and I mean any time at all, even at three in the morning, just drop me a line. OK?

Marvin Gunk, c/o Joe’s Diner, Hicksville.

How nice! Congratulations Vince and Marvin. It just goes to show that honesty is the best policy, doesn’t it. By the way Marvin, a little birdy tells me you’re going to be allowed back into college fairly soon. R.S.

 

MOTORIZED POGO STICKS.

Stan and Jenny Pilchester have put pen to paper again, or in this case, finger to keyboard.

Hi! It’s us, the Pilchesters again. Remember us? We like strange transport. We’d like to tell you about something we’ve only just found out about. How many of you have heard of motorized pogo sticks? It sounds like a really dumb craze doesn’t it? Actually, they were entirely serious, and were made and sold in Tokyo in the early 1950’s. As you can imagine, Japan at that time suffered from an acute lack of public transport and ofraw materials, and many commuters needed several hours to complete journeys of only a few kilometres.

Tetsuo Sakeda, of the All-Nippon Banzai Transportation Company hit on a brilliant idea. A pogo stick, he reasoned, requires much less in the way of raw materials than even a small bike, and in particular, needs little rubber, which was then in particularly short supply. He also had a modest supply of small two-stroke motors, which were just coming back onto the market. He combined the two, and bingo! An economical conveyance, which greatly shortened journey times. The motorized pogo stick was an instant hit, and in five years sold almost a quarter of a million units. Old residents of Tokyo fondly recall the way in which employees of different companies would all buy pogo sticks of the same colour. The workers in the Suntory Brewery, for example, all had red ones, while the employees of the Asahi Shimbun favored yellow. Of course, they all arrived for work and left for home at the same time, and the sight of several hundred employees pogoing in disciplined unison through the Ginza must have been a magnificent one accompanied as it was by the rhythmic put put of the little motors. Several companies replaced their normal morning calisthenics with formation pogo classes.

There were, however, certain problems, which lead to the rapid disappearance of this means of transport.

Hot summers were a particular bugbear. With temperatures sometimes rising to 40°centigrade, pogo sticks frequently sank into patches of soft tarmac, and stopped dead. The riders, of course, did not. They continued on their trajectory, and the Tokyo Fire Brigade was frequently called out to disentangle commuters from clusters of telephone cables.

Another problem resulted from the simple aluminium rivet which acted as the stop for the spring on the lower part of the pogo stick shaft. This could sheer off, with the result that the rider was projected with great force into the air. In this case, they could be sent so high that they collided with the tops of street lights, causing chaos the following night.

By 1956, the motorized pogo stick had become a rarity, and in the following year, the Municipal Authority passed an ordinance forbidding their use. Your only hope of seeing one in use today is in La Jolla, California, where there is an enthusiast’s club, which organizes a parade on the second Sunday of every month. On a good day, there can be as many as thirty riders. The London Science Museum also has a number of specimens, which can be seen on request, if you write to them first.

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