12 September 2008
Things never die on the Internet.
In 2000, when I was a brand new blogger, a guy named Al Schroeder was writing a blog called Nova Notes (he moved on to doing more stuff with comics, and Nova Notes is no more). He used to periodically ask questions for discussion and in July of 2000, he asked the question, "What's the most foolish thing you ever bought?"
I hadn't thought about that in years, probably not since I answered the question. But today out of the blue, I received an e-mail that started, "Was just researching information on the Stroll-O-Chair as I was contemplating one for my dog and came across your hysterical post on some site that was dedicated to 'the most ridiculous thing you ever bought' regarding your Stroll-O-Chair."
Oh my. Stroll-o-chair.
Stroll-o-chair was marketed door-to-door to expectant parents and was billed as the "Cadillac of baby furniture." As you can see, it consisted of a buggy, which detached from the wheels and became your car bed. Then there was a chair which attached to a table top to become a high chair. The chair also attached to the wheels and it became a stroller. And the chair attached to your car as a car seat. When the child got old enough, it became a toddler chair and a table.
It sold for something like $250, which was a huge sum of money in 1966 for a young family expecting their first baby.
But I fell in love. I had to have a Stroll-o-chair. Walt agreed to buy it, but there was tension about the amount of money I had forced him to spend.
If I had known how many kids we were going to have, he might have felt better about it, because it was good, sturdy furniture that lasted us through all the kids, but at the time we didn't know that, and spending that much on one baby was foolhardy.
What sold me on the set was the safety feature they touted. When you go and google "stroll-o-chair" today, you see page after page of recall notices for the product, but the salesman had a slick book filled with examples of how Stroll-o-chair was the safest piece of baby equipment you can buy.
Let me see if I can explain to you how the car seat worked. You can see the chair above there. It had chrome legs which slipped into a slot on the table to make a high chair. The legs also slipped under the seat (the front seat, no less) and then there were these thing hooks that attached to the chair and went over the back of the front seat to hold it in place. The hooks were less than 1/2" thick, but made of metal and supposedly held the car seat firmly in place. The baby was held in the chair by a very thin plastic seatbelt (I usually also added the tray from the high chair, but it was designed to just have padded arms with this thin plastic seatbelt).
The picture they showed was of a car that had been totaled in an auto accident and the only thing you could identify in this tangled mess of metal was the completely intact Stroll-o-chair seat, which obviously was the only thing that had survived this awful crash.
Oh how gullible I was! It's kind of like all the terrorist threats that the Bush administration used to scare people into voting for him over Kerry last time. Promise safety for your child, show a terrible image which proves that the product will keep the child safe, and you'll fork over money you can't afford to buy it, without taking time to actually think about whether this sales pitch made sense or not.
Oh, and that "car bed" was simply the buggy, with no way to hold the baby safe. He rolled around in it. You could put the cover that you see in the photo over the baby, but it wouldn't keep him in the thing during a fender bender, much less a major accident. When we took a camping trip to Colorado, David was five months old and by the time we got home, he had learned how to pull himself up to standing in the car bed!
In light of all we know about child safety these days, we were very fortunate that we never had an accident. With the "safety" of Stroll-o-chair, our kids would have been toast. But they survived, and now Bri has the safest carseat known to man, thank goodness!
I wonder what that stroll-o-chair salesman is selling now,
and how rich he became talking innocents like me into buying his product.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Jeri in the car seat for the first time.
Note how "safe" she
I note the hooks aren't attached to the chair
in this photo, but one would have gone into a hole
MILES TO NOWHERE: 68 miles