I bet you’re expecting me to write something deep about how to recover from past hurts and abuses. No such luck. I’m writing about getting rid of an antique that I used to be trapped inside as a child: the elevatorized Baby Butler.
Yes, the marketers at Guild Industries really used the word “elevatorized” to describe it. Just what is this curious device, which was manufactured out of oak in the late 1950s and 60s? It’s a combination highchair, bed, and play table for young children.
I’m not quite sure why it’s considered elevatorized – perhaps because the seat is adjustable. Elevators had been common for decades by then. I guess it was just a 1950s marketing buzzword.
When we were growing up, my mother strapped my brothers and I into it for meals. The Baby Butler also came with a blackboard cover for use when the seat was removed – thus, the play table part.
My butler is missing the metal seat. I think I threw it away because I didn’t realize it went with the rest.
I associate the device with conflicting emotions: the comfort of food, and the frustration of feeling trapped. I feel a twinge of sentimentality toward it, but that’s about it — the kind you’d feel toward a jack-in-the-box you played with as a kid. The music was nice, but the “jack” jumping out of it was unpleasant.
I inherited the butler when we moved my parents into an assisted living facility. I’ve kept it about a half-dozen years, thinking I could sell it as an antique. A lot of them are for sale on E-Bay. But when I discovered mine no longer had the seat, and that the green blackboard was marred by a black marker, I slowly came to the realization the Baby Butler needed to go.
Before I tossed it, I read through the instruction booklet, which my parents had also saved. I love how marketers used to write:
Dear Mother and Dad: We take pleasure in welcoming you as one more happy family in our ever-growing circle of Baby Butler friends. . . The new and improved Baby Butler supplies the answer to your needs, and it satisfies the most discriminating tastes with its beauty of styling and workmanship.
Sorry, Guild Industries. I’m no longer part of your circle of friends.
Do you still have relics from your childhood that give you mixed feelings?