Sunday, August 31, 2008

One vintage kiddie TV tray: Kinda scary, and not just in a Richard Scarry kind of way

Pictured here is an old and slightly shabby kid's 'Teevee Tray' folding tray table, looking like it may have been manufactured circa 1955 - 1963 or thereabouts.

The short legs suggest that perhaps it was planned for use as an in-bed meal tray, to be placed over a semi-reclining little kid's legs, but my own suspicion is that it's intended for a tyke sitting on the floor and snacking in front of the television.
Could have been both, I suppose...

(Click on image to ENLARGE in a new window)

Regardless, the 'cheerful' illustration on it comes off a tad creepy.
I know I'm not the only one to hold this opinion.

This artifact was passed onto My Friend Topic from a friend of hers, who's husband had grown up with it in his family. (Thanks for sharing, Topic!)
To hear Topic tell it, as adults all could appreciate the tray's kitschy qualities, but agreed it was at least a little bit 'off'.

Certainly the TV clown doesn't help matters, nor does the notion that the Dalmatian puppy might be frightened or angered by it.

The leers of the bear and the rabbit confronting the viewer send it over the edge, in my opinion.

The possible sick-bed use for this old tray makes me recall some early nightmarish days home from elementary school with the flu, running a fever, doped up on cough medicine, and losing touch with reality while parked in front of the television.

Had I been forced to sit alone with this tray in that condition, there would have been trouble...

Also adding to the mystique is it's 'knockoff' quotient.

Setting aside some of its very specific qualities, the illustration is sort of generic for the era.

Looks like they were going for a Little Golden Book feel, though slightly tarnished here.

When I first saw it I wondered if it might actually be artwork by children's book author ⬅ Richard Scarry, or even Gustaf Tenggren ⬇ illustrating in his 'Poky Little Puppy' style of the era.

I have since decided that neither artist created this image, but that whoever did knew what they were doing.

So: Please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong!

If you have any information or thoughts to share regarding the origins of this item, please comment or drop an e-mail.
- - Or how about memories? Maybe you lived with a tray just like this once upon a time?

See also two previous posts on this blog:
- 'Excerpts from Richard Scarry's Golden Book Of Manners, 1962'

- 'Gustaf Tenggren's Tell-It-Again Fairy-Tale Illustrations, 1942'


Donna Lethal said...

It's items like #1 that have caused me to recoil in terror whenever I see anyone in an animal suit.

Anonymous said...

I have the same trays! My daughter was watching Max Fleischer cartoons and eating sugar cereal off of one on the floor just this weekend!

It strikes me as being done in a variety of different styles... there is no consistency to it. I get the distinct feeling the artist copied the various characters from other sources. The monkey, for example, seems likely to have been (poorly) ripped off from a Lawson Wood image.

Anonymous said...

everyone is smiling, no? me thinks it is by the famous Hungarian illustrator Terror von Crazinhold, created right before he chopped his own children to bits in what the Hungarian news media dubbed "A világ tragédia -ban -unk nemzet történelem."

thanks for sharing my friend.

Percy Trout said...

That's creepy. I'd most likely purchase it if I saw it at a flea market.

Anonymous said...

My sister and I had these trays when we were kids in the seventies. And I can assure you we were NEVER creeped out or scared by the trays. From a kid's perspective, they were merely animals watching TV. And we always felt better when some chicken noodle soup or ice cream came served upon them while we lay sick in bed. A fond memory for us and happy to see the trays again.

The In Crowd said...

Hi Twin Mom - -

Thanks for sharing your perspective and your memories. I'm glad to hear that you had a different experience.

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