Wow, a whole stroller/kid furniture world of the past just opened up to me, like seeing color photos of World War II after a lifetime of black & white.
Seriously, the Wonda Chair? Who's been keeping this a secret from me for so long?
DT reader Natalie finally let me in on the secret--that apparently every Baby Boomer knew firsthand--of the Wonda Chair when she forwarded this craigslisting for a whole Wonda Chair set from Des Plaines, Illinois.
Produced by Babyhood Industries of Shrewsbury, MA, the Wonda was a do-it-all, all-in-one, convertible wonder. As the seller mentions, the multi-piece furniture/stroller kit mixes and matches to create the following:
Hi-chair, youth chair, chair and table, dressing table, desk set, rocking chair, stroller, baby carriage, bassinette, and cradle.Which is obviously nuts, but apparently, it worked, because I've found references to people buying a Wonda as early as 1950, when a guy sued his ex-employees for negotiating the Wonda Chair franchise out from under him, and as recently as 1989.
Here's part of a 1970s Wonda Chair brochure I ganked from some eBay listing, when the set included a car seat [recalled in 1973]:
Frankly, it looks like a hot mess, even though the car seat could move from the car to the stroller base: the travel system of the future of the past.
The Florida baby retail pioneer Kenneth Keefe got his start in 1956, selling the Wonda Chair door-to-door. Most of his customers back then, he said, were "young couples who were surprised by their pregnancies and often overwhelmed by the needs of a baby."
The Wonda cost a not-insignificant $100 in 1956, and according to the esteemed curator of the Pram Museum, the price had risen to $700 [!] by 1973.
Which all just goes to show you: as long as people keep starting families and making babies, there will always be someone trying to talk them into buying a bunch of overpriced gear they really don't need. It's a beautiful thing we are all a part of here.