We’re so excited to be back for season THREE of Forever Ago! Join Joy, Elysse, and some talking playground equipment as they spring through time to explore playgrounds of the past, present and future. You’ll hear how playgrounds started popping up thanks to the industrial revolution. You’ll visit 1960’s London to hang out with the godmother of Adventure Play, and meet a group of students working to transform their inaccessible playground into a recess retreat for everybody! And of course, a new First Things First!

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[BIRDS CHIRPING] ELISE: Hey, Joy. Joy, what are you doing up there?


JOY: I'm conquering my fears, Elise, facing down stomach-twisting terror, laughing in the face of extreme distress while trying not to pee in my pants.

ELISE: It looks like you're just standing at the top of the slide, clinging to a metal pole.

JOY: Well, yes, that's what I'm technically doing. But in a moment, I will be facing down stomach-twisting terror.

ELISE: Are you scared to go down the slide? Is that why you're wearing all that stuff?

JOY: This is my safety gear. I duct-taped two pillows to myself for maximum cushioning, bubble wrapped my arms and legs, and then put an extra fluffy bathrobe over the whole thing, just to be safe.

ELISE: And what about the helmet?

JOY: Can't be too careful, Elise. Once I get going down the slide, I could go 20, 30, maybe even 40 miles an hour. Do you think Evel Knievel jumped over more than a dozen flaming cars on his motorcycle without a helmet?

ELISE: [SIGHS] All right, Joy, hold on. I'm coming up there. Whoa! It actually is really high up here. Why does everyone on the ground look so tiny?

JOY: Right? A bird flew into the back of my head a couple of minutes ago.

ELISE: Oh, so that's why you have a bunch of feathers stuck to your helmet? [EXHALES SHARPLY] OK, we can do this. It's just-- [GRUNTS]-- a slide, right?

JOY: Sure, sure, no problem. Just a-- a slide. And the Sahara Desert is just a big sandbox.

ELISE: Why don't we go down together? I'll go first to show you it's safe, and then you can follow me. Ready? 3, 2, 1, whoo! Joy, come on! Come on down! It's so fun!

JOY: OK, I am strong. I am a fierce. I'm not afraid of anything, except surprise parties and creepy Halloween masks and escalators in the mall. How do those things even work? Where do the stairs go when they fold down?

ELISE: You got this!

JOY: Elise is counting on you, Joy. The whole world is counting on you to go down this slide. I'm just going to scoot to the edge here, make sure my safety pillows are secure, close my eyes, and [GASPS] weeh!


Welcome to Forever Ago from APM studios. I'm Joy Dolo.

ELISE: And I'm Elise.

JOY: Today, we're at my favorite playground, talking about playgrounds. Elise, do you have a favorite playground?

ELISE: Uh, yeah, I do. My favorite playground is probably the Smith's playground in Philadelphia.

JOY: Oh, OK. Do you live close to it?

ELISE: Uh, not really, but I was there when I was little and I always remember those really great times, so I really love it there.

JOY: Oh, cool. What do you like about it? Is there certain equipment that you like to play on?

ELISE: Yeah, there's this one ride where you put a hay down and then you slide. It it's so, so, so much fun.

JOY: [CHUCKLES] You put hay Down

ELISE: Yeah, it's like some type of blanket, I think. And you just put it down and you start sliding down this really big slide, and you try to race.

JOY: [CHUCKLES] Oh, that sounds so fun. I bet it's like-- when you put the hay down, it makes it super slippery, so you just fly down that thing, huh?

ELISE: Yeah, we fly, and it's so fun.

JOY: That's so cool. You know, when I was younger, there was this playground that I used to go to when I lived in Tennessee. And like, I always-- I can't remember anything about the park, honestly, but I remember that the parking lot was so far from the playground, that as soon as my dad parked the car, we would literally jump out of the car and then run down this field that was like-- I swear, like a football field. It was so long. And we would run all the way to this park. And it had, like, the wood chips. And I would always remember the feeling of going from grass to wood chips to the playground. I don't know why that's such a visceral memory, but--

ELISE: I love doing that too, especially when I'm in school. That is a great feeling. I know what you're talking about.



Today. We're going to look at a bunch more playgrounds. Humans have been playing for a very long time. It's hard to say when exactly it first started, but archaeologists have found toys that are at least 11,000 years old.

ELISE: And lots of other animals play too, dogs and cats, of course, but also elephants, fish, octopuses, and even turtles.

JOY: Scientists think play probably evolved to help kids practice different skills like coordination, cooperation, and even imagination.

ELISE: So play is ancient, but playgrounds are actually pretty new.

JOY: For most of human history, kids just played wherever they were. There weren't separate spaces for play like this one with all kinds of equipment just for kids.

ELISE: Hey, Joy, you said this playground is your favorite. How come?

JOY: Well, thanks for asking. Even though the slide here is way too scary, it's the only playground I found with these!


ELISE: You mean those write on animals attached to a giant spring that goes back and forth? Joy, these are all over the place. I mean, I guess I've never seen a ladybug and a cow before, but-- hold on, wait a second, are they moving on their own?

JOY: Yeah, they are! Elise, meet Flossy the cow.

FLOSSY: Hello.

JOY: And Hank, the ladybug.

HANK: Pleasure to meet you, kid. So Joy, are we starting at the beginning today?

JOY: You got it! Hank and Flossy don't just talk the talk. They walk the walk, or they spring the spring.


OK, that wasn't my best work. It's OK. But just hop on, you'll see what I mean in a minute.

HANK: Watch the wing, Joy. Youch!

JOY: Oh, sorry, Hank. He's very sensitive about his wings.

ELISE: The talking plastic ladybug has sensitive wings? That is the least weird thing about all of this. I guess I'll just hop on the springy cow now.





JOY: Phew! Nice landing, Hank the tank. You too, Flossy. Elise, you OK?

ELISE: What was that? Whoa, where are we?

FLOSSY: A better question is, when? Can you guess?

JOY: Here's a clue. TV hasn't been invented yet. There aren't even radios.

HANK: But some kids might have bicycles.

FLOSSY: Or even a pair of roller skates.

ELISE: [COUGHING] Well, wherever-- I mean, whenever we are, the air is kind of smoky.

HANK: Ding, ding, ding, welcome to the Industrial Revolution!


ELISE: Oh, yeah, the Industrial Revolution was a big deal. It started around the mid-1700s in Europe when people started making more stuff in factories instead of by hand at home.

JOY: Correctomundo! But we're actually in beautiful New York City in the late 1800s. This is what historians think of as the second wave of the Industrial Revolution.

HANK: All these factories needed workers when they first opened.

JOY: Which meant a lot of people moved from farms in the countryside to crowded apartment buildings in cities.

FLOSSY: And immigrants from all over the world were also moo-ving to the United States to work in these factories.

ELISE: Kids suddenly had way more neighbors to play with.

JOY: That's right. But they also had fewer open spaces to play in, so they played in the street. But soon, a new invention called the automobile made this pretty dangerous.


MAN: Out of the road, rascal!

HANK: Some grown ups started thinking about how to create safe places where kids like yous could play and connect with nature.

FLOSSY: Lucky, lucky, lucky for them, other grown ups in Europe had already thought this through because their Industrial Revolution started decades earlier. They were especially inspired by a guy named Friedrich Froebel.

JOY: He invented kindergarten.

ELISE: Which means Children's Garden in German.

JOY: Hold up, Elise, you speak German?

ELISE: No, I just know a lot of trivia about early childhood education. Froebel is my dude!

JOY: Elise, what else don't I know about you? Are you secretly a black belt? Are you a childhood chess prodigy? Can you move things with your mind? Are you telekinetic?

ELISE: Of course not, Joy. And even if I could, I wouldn't be able to tell you. Then it wouldn't be a secret.

HANK: [CLEAR THROAT] So as we were saying, a key feature of these early kindergartens were, well, gardens.

FLOSSY: They had plants, sometimes animals, and lots, lots, lots of sand.

ELISE: So some of the first playgrounds in the United States were basically giant sandboxes?

JOY: Exactly. The first one was built in Boston in 1885. This was the start of the--

HANK: Playground movement!


FLOSSY: Soon, playgrounds started opening all over the place. Some of them were quite legen-dairy. Get it? Dairy? Don't you like my jokes? Aren't they a-moo-sing?

HANK: Uh, they're a little cheesy.


ELISE: Joy, where did you say you met these two again?

JOY: Oh, we've been taking improv classes together for years.

FLOSSY: Hey, want to blow this popsicle joint and go see some historic playgrounds?

ELISE: You know it!

FLOSSY: Then hop on and let's go, go, go.

HANK: Ow! Sheesh! Watch the wing!

ELISE: Sorry.

JOY: Don't mind Hank. He's always getting his antennae in a twist.

HANK: Are you talking about me?

JOY: What? Definitely not. Let's ride.


FLOSSY: This playground opened in 1888 in San Francisco, and was one of the first public playgrounds in the US.

JOY: Look at those little gondolas swings. And are those kids being pulled in carts by goats?


ELISE: This place had go kart rides? Man, no fair!


HANK: A couple of years later, in 1895, another playground opened in Chicago at a community center for newly-arrived immigrants.

JOY: That jungle gym is huge.

FLOSSY: And then in 1903, Seward Park opened in New York City. See? It has a running track, a children's farm garden, even rocking chairs.

HANK: I mean, it could definitely use some ride-on springy ladybugs. But it was the first permanent city-built playground in the country.

NEWSPAPER KID: Extra, extra, read all about it. Playground movement sweeping the nation. Front page in the Iowa County Democrat, playgrounds lesson juvenile crime. The Chicago Day Book says teach children to play, rid nation of boy bandits. And from the El Paso Herald, give our youngsters baseball, not bullfights.

ELISE: Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a minute! Boy bandits? Juvenile crime? Bullfights? What's that newspaper kid talking about?

JOY: Well, the people who helped build these playgrounds really wanted kids to stop playing in the street.

HANK: Around this time, the streets were pretty dangerous.


Like we mentioned earlier, there was this newfangled invention called the automobile. Plus you had to look out for streetcars and horse-drawn carriages.

FLOSSY: So some cities started taking drastic measures to keep kids from playing in the street, street, street.

NEWSPAPER KID: That's right. Here in New York City, kids like me used to get arrested-- arrested, for playing baseball in the street!

ELISE: OK, that's pretty extreme.

JOY: Absolutely. Playground advocates saw this as a reason for creating safe places just for kids to play.

FLOSSY: On the other hoof-- hand-- other people thought building playgrounds was a good way to mold kids, especially immigrants, into acting a certain way.

NEWSPAPER KID: They thought if they could teach all of these kids from different backgrounds to play the same games with the same rules, they'd sort of grow up to be the same too.

ELISE: Oh, yeah, . I've heard of this before it's called assimilation.

JOY: Right. So there were a lot of reasons why people back then wanted to build playgrounds. But pretty soon, this idea started catching on and playgrounds began popping up everywhere.


FLOSSY: The playground movement was moo-moo-moo-ving and shaking all over the country. A group of supporters called the Playground Association of America got started in 1906.


HANK: In a couple of years, these folks had helped grow the number of cities and towns with playgrounds from 90 to more than 500. They also wrote a guide detailing what kinds of stuff playgrounds should have. Let's visit a few and see what you notice. Ah, joy, my wing!

JOY: Sorry, Hank.

ELISE: Hey, look, more sandboxes!

JOY: They all have swings.

ELISE: And seesaws.

JOY: And, [SWALLOWS] slides.

HANK: The four S's. You nailed it! Sandboxes, swings, seesaws, and slides. Lots of them also had playing fields, shady areas to rest in, and even gardens.

JOY: Ooh, Elise, you have your thinking face on. Come on, make that swing swing with your mind or teeter that teeter totter over there.

ELISE: I told you, Joy, I can't do telekinesis. I was just thinking about the four S's. These playgrounds look a lot like the one we started at and a lot of the playgrounds I've been to. It seems like the stuff that makes up a playground hasn't changed all that much in the last 100 years.

JOY: In the US, that's sort of true. But in other parts of the world, not so much.

HANK: That's right. Why don't we spring a few years into the future and a few miles across the Atlantic?

FLOSSY: Let's go. Quick, back on. I said, quick, quick, quick.

ELISE: Bossy Flossy, sheesh!

JOY: Whoa, there. We'll go with you too in a minute. But right now, we've got a game to play. It's time for--

GROUP: First things first!

JOY: This is the game where we try to guess the order things came in history. Today's items are trampolines, roller skates, . And Slip N' Slides so which do you think came first? Which came second? And which came most recently in history, Elise?

ELISE: Well, Joy, I'm going to go with Slip N' Slides first--

JOY: Oh, OK.

ELISE: --roller skates second, and trampolines third.

JOY: OK, so we got the Slip N' Slides first. Why do you think that was the oldest? Do you have experience with Slip N' Slides?

ELISE: No, I actually don't. I mean, I know that you're supposed to go down a hill or walk on it and then slide down or something. But I've never done that. That's one of the reasons why I said it was the oldest.

JOY: [LAUGHING] It's probably from the 1400s or something.

ELISE: Who knows?

JOY: King James III used to go down the Slip N' Slide with his squire. And then, so second is roller skates, and third, trampolines. What's the thinking behind that order?

ELISE: I don't know. I mean, I know that roller skates is in the '80s and I remember that was really big. Everybody used to go to the skating rink. But I do know that there-- it was a little bit before that as well. So that's why I said second because I was thinking that's old but also kind of new. And then with the trampoline, um, I mean, the trampoline for me is kind of new because it's-- not a lot of people really have that. Everybody is just starting to have that.

JOY: Right.

ELISE: So I feel like that is maybe why I picked that order.

JOY: Well, these are great answers for First Things First. And we'll hear the answers after the credits.


We're back with Forever Ago. I'm Joy.

ELISE: And I'm Elise. We've been talking all about playgrounds today and why they haven't changed that much in the past 100 years.

FLOSSY: [CLEARS THROAT] Can you two pick up your hooves? We've got places to be, playgrounds to visit, visit, visit.

JOY: All right, all right, don't have a cow.

HANK: Hurry, we've got someone we want you to meet.

FLOSSY: We are headed for an adventure. Hold tight.

HANK: Joy!

JOY: Oops, the wing. Wowie, this place is smoking, literally. Look at that cozy campfire.

ELISE: Where are we?

HANK: London in the '60s, baby. Across the city, a new style of music called rock and roll is taking hold. But in my book, no one is more of a rock star than the woman right here.

ELISE: You mean that little old lady pushing a wheelbarrow?

FLOSSY: That little old lady is the swing set shredder, the teeter totter titan, the godmother of adventure play, Lady Allen of Hurtwood!


JOY: [GASPS] Lady Allen is an icon. I've had a life-sized poster of her on my wall for years. She was a landscape architect by training, but she devoted most of her life to children's welfare, basically, making sure kids had everything they need to be happy and healthy.

LADY ALLEN: Flossy, is that you? My bovine bestie, come get over here. And Hank, always a pleasure. Hmm, who are your mates?

JOY: I'm Joy Dolo. And this is my telekinetic sidekick.

ELISE: I'm not telekinetic, Joy. Hi, I'm Elise.

FLOSSY: We are springing through time and space to learn about the history of playgrounds. So naturally, we had, had, had to stop by one of yours.

ELISE: This is a playground? All I see are broken pieces of wood and piles of brick and a big, old metal drum. Wait, is that kid using a hammer over there?

LADY ALLEN: This, dear, is an adventure playground, one of a handful in England in the 1960s, with dozens more to come, I hope. It wasn't long ago that this country and much of Europe suffered terrible bombings during World War II.

JOY: Oh, yeah, World War II really changed how you thought about playgrounds.

LADY ALLEN: It sure did. Before the war was even finished, I was thinking about our country's children. I traveled around the continent to see what neighboring countries were doing. When I was in Denmark, I visited the Emdrup Junk Playground.

JOY: Ouch, rude.

FLOSSY: That's really what it's called.

LADY ALLEN: Yes, a junk playground. The children were playing with all sorts of donated materials-- tires, scraps of wood, barrels, and tools of all kinds. They were working together to build structures that even I, a landscape architect, could never dream of. When I got back home, I realized children here in London were playing in a similar way in bomb sites. They were using scraps of old buildings to create jungle gyms, hiding places, and whole worlds for imaginative play.

JOY: Talk about turning trash into treasure.

ELISE: But I don't get it. What do kids do here?

LADY ALLEN: Well, they play. They climb ropes, dig tunnels, swing on the zip line. Most of all, they build. This place--

KID: Lady Allen, Lady Allen, look at this mud pie I made.

LADY ALLEN: Oh, yes, dear, that's very nice. Be sure you use the fork to the left. The other one is for salads. Where was I? Oh, yes, this used to be a sad, ruined place because of a war started by adults. But now the children, who will someday be in charge, are learning to work together to create amazing things.

JOY: Isn't that pretty, um, risky? Look at those kids, they're just walking across a skinny plank of wood with no handrails or anything.

LADY ALLEN: Of course, it is. But children need risk. Doing something challenging, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, that's how you grow. And besides, it's fun. Have you seen this rope swing? Weeh!

FLOSSY: Only a couple of adventure playgrounds have opened in the US since the '60s, but they never took off. And even on traditional playgrounds, there were a lot of safety concerns. City planners, designers, school leaders, parents, grown ups of all kinds were worried kids would get hurt, hurt, hurt, and that the playground designers would get sued, sued, sued.

ELISE: I've read about this. It happened a couple of times, right?

HANK: Yeah, and it was enough to scare lots of playground designers off for good. Now, in the US, there's a special handbook of safety rules for playgrounds, and most of the equipment is bought from just a few companies that produce a lot of it.

ELISE: OK, so are these playgrounds safer?

JOY: In some ways, definitely. Even though playgrounds today have a lot of the same equipment as 100 years ago, that equipment is much safer. Like slides, they used to be really steep and made of metal, which could burn you on a summer day. And before these regulations, lots of playgrounds were just built on top of concrete. So if you fell--

LADY ALLEN: Ouch, ouch, ouch.

HANK: Big ouch! Parents were right to push for these changes.

JOY: At the same time though, some researchers think there may be fewer injuries on adventure-type playgrounds compared to, say, the more traditional playground where we started.

ELISE: I bet I can guess why. It's because the adventure playground is changing all the time, right? So kids can take risks little by little.

JOY: Yes. But with playgrounds designed to be used one way and never change, kids will start using the equipment in ways they shouldn't to meet that need for a challenge.

HANK: The things I've seen. Oh, I tell you.

FLOSSY: You can tell them not to, but it goes in one ear and out the other.

ELISE: That makes sense. Hey, Where'd you go, Joy?

JOY: Up here!

ELISE: How'd you get up there on that platform?

JOY: With bravery, grit, determination, with a willingness to grow by taking on extraordinary risks!

HANK: She climbed a ladder.

JOY: A very rickety ladder, thank you very much. And now I will careen into a new era, an era of boldness and growth and boundary pushing.

ELISE: You're going to swing on the rope swing?

JOY: You bet, I am! Weeh!

ELISE: Yay, Joy!

HANK: Wow!

FLOSSY: Way to go.

JOY: Whoa, that was amazing, but I think it's time for us to get back. Flossy and I are teaching a butter-sculpting class tonight.

FLOSSY: And we can't be late, late, late.

LADY ALLEN: [BREATHING HEAVILY] Oh, oh, you're leaving so soon? You sure you don't want to stay for dessert? I'm making figgy pudding out of mud. [CHUCKLES]

JOY: Ah, hate to miss it.

ELISE: Oh, man, next time.

LADY ALLEN: All right, more for me. Cheerio.

JOY: Thanks, Lady A. See ya!

FLOSSY: Let's go, go, go.

JOY: And hey, this time, I'll mind the wing, Hank.

HANK: Thanks, pal. Hold on tight!

ELISE: Hey, we're back at the playground where we started.

RUBY GUTHRIE: Elise, Joy, where did you two come from?

JOY: Ruby Guthrie? Most recently, an adventure playground in London.

ELISE: In the 1960s!

JOY: Right. Before that, San Francisco, Chicago, New York.

RUBY GUTHRIE: Whoa, sounds like a big day.

ELISE: Yeah, we saw so many playgrounds.

JOY: And heard a lot of different ideas about what makes a good one. What do you think makes a good playground, Elise?

ELISE: I think what makes a good playground is a nice slide and some swings. I really love to swing all, all the time.

JOY: Oh, yeah? Have you ever gotten so high that you thought you were going to fall backwards?

ELISE: Yes, that has happened. I was like, oh, my god! It was great.

JOY: Yeah, swing, slides. Are you a monkey bars person?

ELISE: No. I hate the monkey bars. I can never ever do that, and I don't think I ever will.

JOY: [CHUCKLES] Well, you see, I went down a slide today, so maybe we'll get you on some monkey bars, huh?

ELISE: I don't know about that one, Joy.

JOY: A little determination.

ELISE: Maybe, maybe.

RUBY GUTHRIE: Elise and Joy, these are some really spectacular ideas. I think the best playgrounds are ones where all kinds of kids get to play together. Take a look around. This playground has a lot of cool stuff but it's not accessible for kids who use a wheelchair or have vision loss, for example.

ELISE: That's true. To even get onto the playground, you need to climb a ladder. And the pathways are really narrow.

RUBY GUTHRIE: Exactly. But luckily, this is starting to change. Last week, I got to visit Glen Lake Elementary school in Minnetonka, Minnesota. Right now, the playground has a tire swing, racing slides, and monkey bars. But unfortunately, it also has--

JOHN: Wood chips, my mortal enemy, I got to be honest.

RUBY GUTHRIE: That's John. He's a fifth grader at Glen Lake. And the reason he hates wood chips is because he can't go over them with his wheelchair. And that means he can't play on the playground with his classmates.

JOHN: Every time I go out there, I'm like, OK, I'm still going to have fun because like I can just talk to my friends and yeah-- but when I think, like, I really want to do something and not just sit around all recess, it's going to be kind of boring.

RUBY GUTHRIE: And even if he could get across the wood chips, he wouldn't be able to use most of the playground equipment in his wheelchair. But John, his classmates, and their teacher Mrs. Julian have started raising money to totally transform this playground so that everyone at the school can use it. Their first goal was to raised enough money for a rubber surface so that everyone can walk, run, or roll to the playground easily.

JOY: Did they do it?

RUBY GUTHRIE: Yeah, they sure did. They had to raise $300,000 first. To get the word out, they knocked on doors, handed out flyers, and even reached out to local businesses. But just being able to go up to a place structure but not use any of the equipment is still really boring. So the kids decided to keep going and raise more money so that the school can buy all kinds of new inclusive play equipment.

JOHN: So the first two pieces we're putting in first, one of them is the merry-go-round. And you can wheel a wheelchair in. And then there's some spots that there's, like, benches inside, and then you can spin it around. So it's really cool and fun.

STUDENT 1: I'm excited about the tunnel. If you're in a wheelchair, you can roll through it. And you can also walk through it. And it's high enough, so then you won't be too crushed up on it.

RUBY GUTHRIE: The students are even dreaming up ideas for new playground equipment that hasn't been invented yet.

JOHN: What I'm really looking forward to is, even though I'm in a wheelchair, I like to try new stuff. So one thing that I have always wanted to see is a wheelchair-accessible seesaw. So what I'm thinking is it will kind of be like the wheelchair-accessible swing but a little different. The person in the wheelchair gets on one side and another one of your friends gets on the other.

And then what I'm thinking is there's going to be a little pump in the middle that you have to push down a turn to make it go. And I feel like that could be a very cool addition to the playground.

RUBY GUTHRIE: The playground will actually be finished after most of these students will graduate from Glen Lake. And that means a lot to their teacher Mrs. Juliet, whose son is a third grader at the school and also uses a wheelchair.

MRS JULIET: To see my class wanting to do things that's not going to directly benefit them-- they're all going to graduate, and no one will get to use this equipment-- to know that they're raising this money and making this playground for other kids in the future to enjoy, it makes me really proud. And I think that brings us so much joy as a class, knowing that they're doing this selfless act for others.

JOY: Wow, what an amazing project. What do you think about the kids at Glen Lake, Elise?

ELISE: I am really excited for these kids because I really know that it's hard for people that are in wheelchairs and that are in need. So everybody can have fun. And I'm so glad that this project was even created because, how awesome is that everybody gets to do whatever they want?

JOY: I know. It's like the best thing when we can all play together equally. I love that kind of stuff. And also, how selfless is it to know that you won't be able to play with it yourself, but hopefully, people in the future will be able to come and play for it? I think that's beautiful.

ELISE: Yeah, me too.

JOY: Yeah. Thanks so much for bringing us, Ruby.

RUBY GUTHRIE: Anytime. And hey, do you guys want to do one more run on the slide?

JOY: Yeah.

ELISE: Let's go!

RUBY GUTHRIE: Wow, Joy, are you going to go down without any pillows or your helmet? Not even your fluffy robe?

JOY: Actually, I'm going to put the fluffy robe back on. It's so comfy and fashionable. Got to look fly when I hit the slide, you know what I mean? [CHUCKLES] See you at the bottom!


ELISE: Playgrounds started being built in the US during the Industrial Revolution so kids could have a safe place to play.

JOY: And later in Europe, the destruction of World War II helped inspire a totally new type of playground called the adventure playground.

ELISE: Some rules and regulations have made playgrounds safer over the years. But taking small risks can help push kids out of their comfort zone and grow.

JOY: And some kids are even working to build playgrounds that everyone can use and enjoy.


This episode is written by Nico Gonzales Wisler with production help from Molly Bloom, Anna Goldfield, Rosie DuPont, Ruby Guthrie, and Anna Weggel. Our editors are Shahla Farzan and Sanden Totten. Sound design and theme music by Rachel Breeze. Beth Perlman is our executive producer. We had engineering help from Alex Simpson and Zach Haney. The executives in charge of APM Studios are Chandra Kavati, Alex Shaffer, and Joanne Griffith, or should I say Lady Allen? And special thanks to [INAUDIBLE]. If you have an idea for a topic that we should explore on Forever Ago, send it to us at foreverago.org/contact.


OK, Elise, are you ready to hear the answers to First Things First?

ELISE: I think I am!

JOY: OK, so just a reminder, you said first was Slip N' Slides, roller skates, and trampolines. Drum roll, please. [VOCALIZING]

OK, we did OK, Elise. Here we go. OK, so first in history in 1743 was roller skates, actually.

ELISE: Oh, so roller skates are the oldest?

JOY: Yeah. A Belgian inventor named John Joseph Merlin is credited with designing the first pair of roller skates. He was going to a fancy party and wanted to make a big entrance, so he designed special wheeled attachments for his shoes. They featured four metal rollers on the bottom of a flat metal plate with leather straps for attaching them. But they didn't have brakes, so when he rolled into the party while playing his violin, he immediately crashed into a glass mirror.


Which sounds a lot like my skating skills as well, so I feel him. [CHUCKLES] So we had roller skates first, and then next up in 1945 was trampolines. Can you believe it? Yeah.

ELISE: Yeah.

JOY: The trampoline was invented by an American gymnast named George Nissen. He went to see a circus as a teenager in 1930 and was inspired by the nets the trapeze artists used. They would jump into them and bounce back to do a somersault or other trick to finish their routine. He thought he could build something similar for gymnasts. He worked on this invention in his parents' garage. And after a few failed prototypes, he finally got a patent for it in 1945. One of George's hopes was that trampoline gymnastics would eventually become an Olympic event.

It did for the 2000 Olympic games in Sydney, which he attended. Look at that, trampolines are coming in. Of course, like, circus. I didn't even think about the circus in that world.

ELISE: I know, that's crazy!

JOY: Yeah, yeah. So you know what that means, that last, the most recent was Slip N' Slides, and that was in 1961. Not too long ago. Robert Carrier invented the Slip N' Slide in 1960 after he came home to find his 10-year-old son and his friends sliding on wet concrete on a hot day. Carrier worked at a boat-manufacturing company, so he brought home a strip of vinyl for his son to play on instead. And from there, he came up with the idea of adding a tube along the side to insert a hose into. The tube had holes all along it so that the water would spray out along the whole surface. He named it the Aquatic Play Equipment. [CHUCKLES]


JOY: That's like the worse named-- the Aquatic Play Equipment.

ELISE: Yeah, that's very terrible.

JOY: Yeah. Luckily, a Carrier's invention was bought and released by the toy company Wham-O who renamed it Slip N' Slide Magic Water Slide, and released it in 1961. The '60s were a different time, Elise.

ELISE: I see that. Very interesting.

JOY: I like all these names. So what do you think of the order? I thought you did it-- it was a pretty good guess, but I was pretty surprised by these.

ELISE: Yeah, me too. I mean, that information is really, really great. I mean, I would never expect roller skates to be the first one.

JOY: Me neither.

ELISE: Yeah, that was really interesting. Thank you, Joy.

JOY: Yeah, because when you think of, like, the 1700s, I'm thinking of people in bustles and corsets and stuff, not roller skating around.

ELISE: You do, yeah.

JOY: Well, that's what we have for you. We'll be back next week with a super cool episode of What Happened The Year Summer Was Canceled? See you next time. And thanks for listening.


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