Pauline Conolly in New York

My first visit to the United States was in the 1980s, about thirty years too late.  If only I could have arrived  as a ten year old, when I was obsessed with Yankee comic books. For years I  lusted after  Hershey bars , fudge brownies, double malts and root beer.  But above  all I  wanted a pogo stick;  unheard of in the  back-blocks of  Tasmania where I grew up.  Our garden spade  was a very poor substitute.  Sometimes I would fill  out  a form  on the back of an old comic  in which I  undertook  to sell fifty boxes of Christmas cards in return  for  a pogo stick. Sadly I was always defeated when I could not  supply a zip code.

Comics inspired my love of the United States.
US Comics fired my imagination.

When I finally  reached the United States as an adult my illusions were  shattered almost  immediately. Los Angeles was  an exciting city full of beautiful people, but  Hershey bars were not a patch  on our Cherry Ripes.

Worse still, root beer tasted suspiciously  like cough medicine.



Never mind, there was still the pogo stick, and after flying on to  the Big Apple I headed straight for  the famous toy store,   F.A.O. Schwarz.

The $500 model that caught my eye  had an enormous steel spring   promising a lift-off to rival a space rocket.  My  trial hops were a good deal  less spectacular. Impaired balance seemed to be the problem, or perhaps I had simply lost the wild confidence of youth.  As a small bystander explained kindly; ‘You’re not giving it enough oomph Lady! ‘   I relinquished the pogo stick in disgust, and watched him smirk a little less kindly as he bounced away on it  like Old Man Kangaroo.

To cheer myself up I did what ladies in New York are supposed to do; I  walked down Fifth Avenue  and bought myself a  designer label  jacket which  completely  blew my budget. Two days later I wore it for the  first time on a visit to Niagara Falls.  My sense of wonder returned in this spectacular setting  and  I was  as wide eyed and open mouthed as the school children milling about me. 

At the end of  an  exhausting day  my partner and I returned to our overheated motel room , where I  collapsed on the bed and dozed off, fully clothed.  I woke an hour later to find  myself bound to the bedcovers by a thousand sticky threads. It was like a scene from Gulliver’s Travels; the sort of book  I probably should have been reading in my youth  instead of comics.


Children are practical little blighters. When they gape at something in awe they take the precaution of removing their bubblegum and parking it  in a handy spot.  I feel sure  the  boy  beside  me  at the Falls meant  to retrieve his precious wad  before he left.   It was my misfortune that he forgot. It was also my misfortune that  I failed to spot the gum before  leaning against the railing while  my partner took my photograph.


Parked gum in the United States.

The staff at  Howard Johnson  were remarkably  understanding about the damage to their  duvet cover. I was also thankful that my new jacket responded so well to dry cleaning, although  I can’t help feeling that some of  its  designer aura was removed along with the bubblegum.

My friends think I’m joking when I say that I left my trip to the States too late, but  I remind them that  at  the age of ten I would have been wearing my sister’s  hand-me-down windcheater to Niagara Falls. The bubble gum incident would hardly have mattered.  Besides, that sticky pink  glob  on the  guard rail would almost certainly have been my own.

NOTE…..In fairness, Hershey Kisses were sublime. I give them my stamp of approval. 😛

The history of Hersheys.

My next trip to the United States was a good deal more positive. Click here to find out why….. Serendipity.

Feel free to leave a comment below !

  1. I love a good punch-line. You didn’t disappoint!

  2. Pauline

    Ha ha…I still hanker after a pogo stick Peter, but would probably break my neck!

    • HAH! You’re a laugh, Pauline.

      I had a pogo stick when I was younger, and in the backblocks of Tasmania, I might add. I must admit, though, it was the only one of its kind in our vicinity. It had been my mother’s and she gave it to me when I was very small. Unfortunately, she also gave me her hopeless balance and lack of co-ordination. My sister and I would challenge each other to see who could survive more than a single jump – the score remains an even tie at one jump each. A little boy called Alastair came round one day and managed to jump seven bounces in a row. We never invited him back again.

      I’d rather a designer jacket.

      My goodness… your comment robot checker is expecting maths from me. I’ve had three wines so I don’t know how this will go. Hurrah if you end up reading this…

  3. Holly,

    If you can find that old pogo stick, do you think you could send it up to me? I might have one last go along the driveway. Oh… I hope Aistair didnn’t end up with it.

    The thought of your mother having one when I didn’t is almost more than I can bear. Did she fake a zip code and make her parents buy all those Christmas cards?

    As for the robot checker, it seems easier to me than those damn squashed captcha letters, even though I often get the answer wrong!

  4. I also had a pogo stick growing up and wish I still had it. : ) Nice blog and love your comments and stories. You lifted up any doubt I had from your feed back on my blog.

    • Pauline

      Thanks Jeanette. Was very amused to hear that you wish you still had your pogo stick. I also yearn for another yo-yo sometimes, I might finally master ‘walking the dog’.

  5. Love it. What a great blog, it gave me a big smile reading it.

    • Pauline

      Thanks Marcia. I hoped I might have a positive update to this blog after finding the pogo stick in Cath’s Maidenhead loft, but sadly no.

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