The Jigger

Robert Nathan Stocker riding the jigger in Barre, Massachusetts

Our grandparents J. Alfred and Helen Connell Taylor lived in Barre, Massachusetts, a small town approximately 50 miles west of Boston. When we visited them in warm weather, one of the highlights for us children was to drive the jigger along a bumpy sidewalk across the street from our grandparents’ house.

One dictionary definition of jigger is “any device that operates with a jerking or jolting motion.” The jigger in Barre was a small vehicle that our mother had as a child. We propelled it by jerking on a pumping handle connected to the rear wheels and steered it by orienting the front wheels with our feet. Getting the jigger started was touchy. If the pumping handle was not properly aligned, pumping would make the jigger go backwards instead of forwards. Going up an incline could be challenging. Going down could be thrilling. The pumping handle moved faster and faster as the jigger’s speed increased. Slowing the handle down was the only way to brake.

We don’t know what happened to the jigger after our grandparents died. We’ve never seen anything quite like it. Now, decades later, it seems like it should be in a museum.

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