Friday, September 12, 2008

Stroll-o-Chair

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.

strollochair.jpg (7090 bytes)

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.

jeriStroll.jpg (40424 bytes)

Jeri in the car seat for the first time. Note how "safe" she looks. The car bed is visible in the back seat (it did not attach to anything; just sat there)

I note the hooks aren't attached to the chair in this photo, but one would have gone into a hole a little behind Jeri's elbow and then hooked over the back of the seat of the car.

35 comments:

Arthur said...

I am the son of the man who probably sold you your Stroll-o-Chair.
I was in one as a baby & later went into the business with my father. I don't know of any product recalls & I politely request that you show me or document these recalls you refer to
Arthur Kaplan barksnobyte@msn.com
516 491-8071

JJ Rooney said...

How about these documented recalls?
http://www.automotive.com/car-seat-recalls/137/stroll-o-chair/71/index.html

http://www.recallowl.com/Vehicle+Recalls/Child+Restraints/STROLL-O-CHAIR

http://www.allworldauto.com/recalls/NHTSA_74C004000_9999_STROLL_O_CHAIR_71_recall_18839.html

http://www.aboutautomobile.com/ChildSeat/Recall/Stroll-O-Chair/71/74C004000

http://www.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl?msg_id=003aLC

http://www.recall-warnings.com/auto-year-C.0000.STROLLOCHAIR.71.html

http://www.motorbeat.com/recall/69841/

My first wife and I bought one of these in 1962 for our coming child. We were teenagers, naive and gullible. Next thing you know we were looking at a video narrated by Hugh Downs ( who I will never respect again) and that's what sold us. That plus a glib talking door-to-door salesman. When we realized what we were obligated to ( $350 ) we called the company to cancel the contract. They refused and we had to retain an attorney to deal with the situation. Luckily for us, we were both under 21. History would prove us right as the product was recalled as unsafe. Anyone interested can check out the URLs above.

Anonymous said...

I know this post is old but am hoping someone may see this. Call me crazy if you want but I am looking to purchase part of a stroll-o-chair. My grandmother bought one in 62 when she was pregnant with my dad, and though we all know better than to use it as a car seat, every baby born into my family since then has used the highchair part. After years of surviving my extremely destructive family the tray fell victim to the clumsiness of my fiance. He tripped and caught himself on the tray causing a small crack, a very small crack considering his size. Anyone with ideas on where to find a tray, or I will even purchase the whole thing if I have to. Please help.mellisamar@yahoo.com

cottagegarden57 said...

I'm cleaning out my parents' house and wondering if I should sell the Stroll-O-Chair they purchased for me in 1957 or just put it out for the trash. The wheel base is rusted and the carriage part is not the best. But, the chair is still okay and has been used on the rocker base for the grandchildren. They used the table, too.

cruiser said...

we bought our stroll-o-chair in Charlotte, NC in 1964 for our son, I loved it, we couldn't afford the buggy at the time, but 20 years later to the day I found one in a yard sale & bought it, I have saved my stroll-o-chair all these years and took loving care of it to save for our grandchildren, our son is now 45 still single so looks like someone else should enjoy it, I even have the bill of sale and original large colored brochure of it showing all the ways to use it, it is in the beige color, excellant shape--I have all parts & pieces except the buggy part ,the sewing came loose and it went to the dump.make me an offer. (mfarmer50@nc.rr.com) I must say it is still the most safe highchair-no-tip proof and durable of highchairs even today.

JaredBHughes said...

Hello Stroll-o-chair fans: My wife and I are expecting our first child in 28 days and we were thrilled to find a beautiful navy blue and white Rex Stroll-o-chair pram with HALF of the bouncer chair. We need some parts. Here is what we HAVE:

Pram / Stroll-o-chair Base

Car Bed / Pram Bed

Turquoise Seat

Turquoise fringed canopy (no frame)
hard rectangular arms (hard to see in the photo is it the high chair base?) on a square frame with a metal bar that locks in place - somewhere???

Rocking Chair base for the Turquoise chair - how does this attach to the buggy wheels? Does it?

One padded vinyl arm for the strol-o-chair - need the other one

White Plastic tray

We NEED:
The frame for the canopy
The Pram Bed top cover for weather
The High Chair Base

If you have spare parts or are interested in selling or lending them, please let me know. 301-270-3012 or 202-277-4557 in Takoma Park, MD

JaredBHughes said...

Just found the wedding announcement for the daughter of the founder of the Rex Stroll-o-chair

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/29/fashion/weddings/29BERG_.html

Anonymous said...

Im the daughter of a back in the day Stroller Chair salesmen , the post made my day n I printed it for Dad who now is 75 .

Ty !

Clara said...

I actually bought a crib with my stroll o chair, but never got to use it a a youth bed. Now I want to do just that with my granddaughter, but cannot find my directions. Does anyone have them?

acorn said...

My mother-in-law just gave my husband and I the stroll-o-chair that he used when he was a child. She purchased it back in 1963. It is turquois and we only have the chair and table. We are missing the arm rests, foot rest, tray and the stroller frame and canopy. We would be interested if anyone has parts that they would like to sell or if they have one just like it to sell. It was quit dirty and rusty when we got it but my husband has this amazing cleaner for stainless steel cleaner and we he got done it looked like brand new. I used a little elbow grease to clean the vinyl and it looks great! I just thought it was great to have something to hand down in the family.

Anonymous said...

If anyone is still interested in or needing pieces for the stroll-o-chair, please let me know... We are trying to clean out the upstairs and are ready to let ours go. We had it all...wheels, rocker, pram, chair and table, canopy... unfortunately the tray is cracked... This one was purchased in 1962..

If interested, please email me at susheath62@yahoo.com

jean said...

I purchased a navy blue pram exactly like what is in the photo above at a yard sale in 1991 for $35, when I was pregnant with my only child. I used it as a bassinet, and carted her all around down town Tucson in it until she was old enough to climb out. I hadn't thought about it in years, until I came across a photo, and then googled it. Thanks for posting. (Daughter is in college now; I wish I still had it)

Anonymous said...

In 1962, I purchased one and was given the crib/youth bed for purchasing. I have it stored indoors. The tray is chipped at the and needs to be soddered, the buggie/bed has some of the stitches coming loose & the highchair back has a small tear.. It is a beautiful outfit and the chrome is handsome not to mention those white-walled wheels. The rocker and table and chair has been used by other children visiting. Would consider letting it go. fme57@ftc-i.net

Anonymous said...

I have a Rex-Stroll-a-Chair turquoise color that was my aunt's she bought for her son in 1966. I have the carriage, chair, table and all attachments except tray for high chair. All is in good condition except small tear in chair back. I had thought that as my children moved out I could set up a room just for my dolls, but my house is smaller now, and kids won't appreciate it when I'm gone. I would like to sell it. I can be contacted @ snyderp0160@sbcglobal.net if interested.

Anonymous said...

We have a 1968 model Rex-Stroll-o-Chair for sale. We are a Crisis Pregnancy Center in western NC and would accept a tax-deductible donation to anyone interested. We have all parts and everything is in really good condition. I would be happy to send photos, if desired. Please email me at shill31@live.com or call 828-685-8626. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

May 17, 2011 9:01 a.m.
Detroit, MI My husband and I purchased the stroll-o- chair & crib in 1966 when we were expecting our first child well we were blessed with Twin boys. Thank God the company had a campaign going on that if you had twins you will get a second chair and a over size crib. My last table and chair was stolen 3 yrs ago. They were still in good shape. I donated the wheels & frame of the stroller to a handicap organization.

Anonymous said...

We bought our Stroll-O-Chair in 1963 when expecting our first child. I loved everything about the outfit...the quality was amazing...it lasted through our 5 children and many grandchildren. Ours also came with a crib, and I recall it was nearly $400, a lot of money, but well worth it. It was the most beautiful carriage in the world to me.

Michele said...

My mother bought the Stroll-o-chair in Calgary, Alberta when she was expecting me in 1968. It has been used by many children since. I just cleaned it today since my two boys are done with it and my mother is taking it home for her first Great Grandchild to use. It has had the chair seat recovered and there is a crack in the tray. There are no parts coming loose, no screws missing and it is the most tip proof highchair I've ever seen. I expect to see again for my grandchildren in 20 more years. I would love any contact links for a new tray!

dolores said...

I am cleaning out our garage and we to, have a stroll-0chair that we would like to sell. We bought it in 1960 for our first child. It has lasted through 3 sons ,4 grandchildren and on great grandchild. the crib was used for the children and then sold; as was the buggy part. We have the chair, complete with tray( a small crack on the tray. We also have the armrests and the rocker attachments. any contacts would be appreciated. Dee - rcdmlyons@att.net

Katie said...

I am a photographer and I just purchased this chair at a garage sale for $2.00 theres a few tears in the chair itself but I am happy to add this to my photography props. My chair only came with the chair itself, the rocker, tray and armrests but I love it. I cannot wait to take some photos of some kiddos in it!

Katie
Sugar Blossom Studio

Anonymous said...

Hi My name is Lorie i just bought the white chair and table with carriage. I didnt get the rocker attachments does anyone have any for sale . the whole thing is in mint shape no rust at all . My email is tmiller65@twcny.rr.com

Anonymous said...

I purchased the Stroll-0-Chair back in 1957 when, I assume they were first produced. I believe,at the time, I paid $400.00+-. It was an incredible item. I used it from ther time my baby was an infant to when whe was well into her 5th or 6th year...the combinations of equipment are inumerable. From stroller to highchair to rocker to table and chair etc., etc. Astounding.As far as safety, I never saw a problem. Too many parents today rely on a product to watchdog their child because they are too damn LAZY TO KEEP ANY EYE ON THEIR CHILDREN. I never had a minute of problem with the equipment.

Anonymous said...

I am the proud owner of two (yup, two) Stroll-o-Chairs. Both are high chair and table combos. One in agua and one in beige. One cam from an antigue store, the other from a dear friend. Love them to pieces. I am looking for the brochure (or a copy of one). I would be happy to cover any reasonable expense, and mailing. Thanks! rkknittel@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

The complainers who were so gullably taken in by those evil inventors and sellers, should lock their kids up in a closet at home or turn them over to the government to protect them from those evil people who FORCED them to buy from them.

I don't have a stroll-o-chair, but I do have a 1957 English pram very similar to the one shown with it.

I'm restoring it for a great grand child and needed some parts. I found them on a web site in the Netherlands: postmaster@ouderwetse-kinderwagens.nl A gentleman named Ruud Mors.
There is also a web site in England for an organization made up of Pram collectors: "Coach Built Prams.org" It costs nothing to join the group and they are very helpful people in England.

Anonymous said...

i recently picked up a stroll-o-chair and i am looking for a pair of the lion/horse crests that go on the side of the stroller. if any one has some/ knows where to get some I'm very interested.

email me at rywilldesign@gmail.com

thanks

Anonymous said...

We were a very young couple with first baby due in March 1964. A friend recommended the StrolloChair to us and loved the invention. My mother loved strolling our baby in the stroller - she commented many times about what a wonderful product this was. As I recall we paid $200 (could not afford the buggy) and the crib was a freeby. We were so pleased with our purchase - and more importantly we were wheeling our first baby in a BMW type stroller! We still have the stroller - it has been borrowed, loaned and now back with us - I'll never part with it! Ours was the beige color and the highchair tray has a crack - but it's in working condition - and just couldn't part with it.

Anonymous said...

I grew up across the street from the Rex baby carraige company (167St Jumel Place) so certainly when we were expecting our first arrival, I purchased the complete set.
Lasted well into our second chils and I stil;l have the table base.
Made in America!
ap
Rochester NY

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Anonymous said...

We just purchased s strollochair. buggy at a flea market. It is in great shape but does not have the handle and the wheels. Does any one have some they would like to sell. email at groomgirl@aol.com

babydonsma said...

moving, must sell. approx 1968 rex strollochair carriage/highchair combo. have most attachments.all in good condition. some original package & papers. whole thing goes.jbmnd@citlink.net or (607)498-4971.

Anonymous said...

My Mom has a complete Stroll O Chair she is wanting to sell. It went thru both me and my brother and is excellent condition. It is teal with a black buggy and bassinet. If interested let me know.
kklich@sunsrce.com

clee460@comcast.net said...

I want to respond to the first comment regarding the safety features. I purchased the complete set with a free crib in 1966, I am an emergency department nurse and would like to like to respond to the safety of 1966. There were no car seats and no safety belt in most cars of the time. The Stroll 0 Chair car seat of 1966 was ahead of its time. At that time, most children sat in their parents laps in the front seat and were catapulted like torpedoes through the windows of the car. It's 1966 design would not meet the safety features of today but was ahead of its time in 1966. We used it for all our children and the stroller and buggy were used by many of our grandchildren. The materials and chrome were in excellent shape for the 45 years of use. The high chair would not tip over. It was an excellent product, highly safe for the time and nothing com[ares with it on the market today..

Anonymous said...

I had the whole set of turquoise..I loved it. Bought it in 1968. Not much safety in those days....Just love how Bush/Kerry/politics came into the mix of our babies..does it ever end?

Anonymous said...

We bought our Stroll O Chair at The Ohio State Fair in 1961,we also got the crib and matress,dresser and hamper,one of my favorite things was how the buggy turned into a cradle,loved the whole set ! Wish I still had it,because now I have 8 greatgrandchildren.

G. Van Dyke said...

We bought the complete set for $199 + tax in 1968. We received a 6 r old crib free with purchase. It was sold by a D. Pederson from Sioux Falls, SD. We used it for our 5 boys. Recently I got it out of storage, cleaned it up & now have it in the toy room downstairs with the Cabbage Patch dolls sitting in it. Nothing today is made as STURDY as this set was!