In the beginning of the 1960’s a new fad began to emerge in the suburbs of America. Much like it’s ’50s predecessor, hula hooping, it came and went in the night leaving those who participated with just a vague memory of its occurrence. What is this elusive fad? Trampoline Pits. Around 1960, parks full of trampoline pits began popping up all over the county. These parks were contracted in abandoned lots and full of pits with trampolines fitted across the tops. Those wanting to play on the trampolines could pay a quarter or two for a half hour of bouncing bliss. Kids would line up after school for their chance at the action and some parents would even take their kids there for parties.
As anyone now could easily guess, injuries were all too common and trampoline pit parks began to be blacklisted by insurance companies. After a series of parks were sued for damages caused by children flying off the trampolines and hurting themselves, the parks began to close down one by one. Before the middle of the decade, trampoline pit parks were a fading memory only to be recalled by one of the few photographs circling around in old newspapers, collections, and yearbooks.
One such collection by LIFE magazine, photographed by Ralph Crane, includes some of the most entertaining representations of what trampolining was in the 1960’s. These shots show the candid happiness of everyone from monks to babies caught on camera enjoying their first experience. You can tell by their faces that this was a new experience that brought a lot of joy to each person, much like our first encounter with a trampoline does today. Their naivety about the danger of the trampoline pits was pure bliss, an ignorance that allows us to see these fun shots of genuine happiness. Trampolines were a cool thing that everyone wanted to try and these photos capture the excitement well.
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