A rod with a spring at the bottom that you bounce around on.
You kids had it easy. Back in my day a pogo stick was constructed entirely out of wood. It didn't have any fancy springs or handgrips. We didn't bounce on them for fun, we did it because we had to, twenty miles a day over mud and rocks on a wooden pole with two foot stands (and that was if we were lucky).
Or at least that is how the story goes.
The Legend of the Pogo Stick
George Hansburg patented the first pogo stick in 1919 and it became wildly popular all over the world, that much we know for certain. But George himself says the credit belongs to a poor Burmese farmer, and his daughter, Pogo.
Mr. Hansburg was visiting Burma in the early twentieth century. He had stopped to rest in front of a farmhouse when he saw a peculiar sight. A young lady wildly hopping down the road on what looked like a wooden cross that had been turned upside down. She was barefoot, but wearing what were obviously her best clothes. She hopped right up to the farmhouse, dismounted, and went inside. Now old George was puzzled at this, so he went up to the house to get the full story.
It seems that the young girl was very devout in her religious beliefs, and she wanted to go to the Temple everyday (in order to pray). But alas, the road was long, and filled with rocks, mud, and all sorts of other nastiness, and poor little Pogo didn't even have any shoes to protect her feet. Now the lack of shoes normally wouldn't have stopped an industrious young girl like our Pogo. She thought nothing of walking barefoot to the market, even if she ended up with bleeding feet caked in mud. But, Pogo certainly wouldn't visit the Temple in such a condition, she was brought up far to well to even think about doing something like that.
So Pogo and her father built a wooden jumping stick for her. It was simply a wooden pole with two foot rests upon it. With some practice young Pogo was able to hop along on this device continuously. It was tiring at first, but soon she got used to it. She then became a regular sight on the road between the farm and Temple, hopping along like a young lady possessed.
George was quite impressed with all this, so much so that he decided to make his own jumping stick when he got back to America. He decided to add a spring for added bounce, and handlebars to help maintain stability. When it came time to patent his invention, he decided to name it after Pogo, the young lady who started it all.
The first big order of Pogo Sticks was by the Gimble Brothers Department Store. They ordered a whole boatload of them. George had them made overseas to help reduce costs, but unfortunately the wooden sticks rotted on their way over (ruining the entire shipment). The folks at Gimble Brothers were not happy. They asked George for another order, but this time they wanted something more sturdy, something that wasn't going to rot or break.
So George decided to make the next batch of Pogo Sticks out of metal. He made them at his own factory, and labeled them as the "Master Pogo". These were the first true modern Pogo Sticks. And they sold, boy did they sell.
The Pogo Stick hit the height of its popularity a scant few years after it came out. The people of the 1920s loved wacky things, and endurance related contests. So the Pogo Stick just fit right into the society like it had always been there. They started popping up everywhere, dancers bounced on them in Broadway shows, while jumping contests were held all around the country (and it wasn’t just the kids either, as the average age of a Pogo Stick owner back then was almost twenty). It has even been said that several couple were married at Pogo Stick weddings, where they bounced the entire time (the kiss must have taken some practice).
Pogo Sticks are still sold even today, under several different brand names. George Hansburg's original Pogo Stick company (SBI) was sold in the early 1970s to Irwin Arginisky (George was getting pretty old at this point), but production was never halted on the original Pogo Stick. You can still purchase a "Master Pogo" even today (they cost around $50 USD), the original is still one of the only Pogo Sticks that can actually handle an adult, as most of the cheap modern imitations are suitable only for children.