Like any concerned father with ready access to rugged, waterproof synthetic fabrics at work, Robert Carrier took home a 50-foot roll of beige Naugahyde in hopes of persuading his son to splash down on something safer. He unfurled it in the yard, hosed it down and watched as every kid in the neighborhood showed up and stayed to slide for hours.
Realizing he had a hit on his hands, Carrier used his sewing skills to refine his product. "He stitched a long tube along one side, sewn shut at one end, with spaces between the stitching so that when you attached the hose, the water pressure would build up and water would squirt out those openings and lubricate the surface of the material," (explains Tim Walsh, author of "Timeless Toys: Classic Toys and the Playmakers Who Created Them.")
(Thanks, Tanya Schevitz!)