Vol. 15


Sliding Away in the Early ’60s

c. 1960; Syracuse, New York, USA

One excellent and fresh summer day in 1960 Syracuse, New York, ten-year-old John, his brother Lewis, friend Robbie, and three others were looking for something to do. They decided that backyard camping sounded fun.

Before the boys could camp, they needed a tent. John realized that they could save some cash if they just made a tent from some plastic tarp. John and Lewis knew they could get tarp from their dad, who worked in painting and construction. Their dad agreed, and soon they had their tarp.

The tarp was dirty and covered with dried paint, so the boys had to clean it. They took the tarp and laid it out on a slowly sloping hill to clean it. Then they ran a long hose down the dirty tarp and turned the water on. The rushing water swooped all the paint and debris off the now-beautiful tarp.

The shiny tarp called to Lewis. He got butterflies in his stomach as he flew down the tarp. After that, his nerves were gone, and he was filled with excitement. The boys knew they had just discovered something awesome. Amazed and worried, a nearby neighbor saw the commotion and called the news.

The news sent a cameraman to take some pictures, because no one had ever heard of this activity before. The cameraman instructed the boys to all slide at once while he waited at the bottom. The kids told him that was a bad idea. That cameraman had no idea how fast the boys could go.

All at once, the group slid down the slippery tarp, and someone slammed right into the cameraman, and the camera went flying into the air. What goes up must come down — this time, onto John’s head. Luckily he wasn’t knocked unconscious, but boy was he dizzy!

The cameraman did a successful retake, and the clip made it onto the local news. John’s neighbor Robbie gave it a name and introduced the world’s first “slip n slide.”

Hunter Beckmann, grandson of John; Missouri, USA



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