January
14th 2010
Cosco Go-seat, ca. 1970

Posted under: American history, art, childhood, fluff

We’ve been pretty serious here all week long, so I thought I’d lighten this place up a bit with a blast from the past, the Cosco kids’ booster seat.  Ever since my post last summer on the lost dangers of mid- to late twentieth century American childhood, I’ve been wanting to show you kids born after 1980 or so what a “booster seat” used to look like.  It wasn’t so much about safety–after all, we just had lap belts on the bench seats in my parents’ cars in the 1960s and 70s.  (Five-point harness–ha!  Kids in my day used to roll around–and off–of the back ledge, sunning themselves through the rear window.)  These seats were more about making car rides more tolerable for children, because they were “boosted” up high enough to see out of the windows.  This little number was perfect for car rides–the lap belt slid through the armholes, and you were ready to roll.

My parents still have the seat my brother and I used as toddlers–I meant to take a picture of it while we were visiting over Christmas break.  Ours was identical to this one in design, but it was beigey-gold–almost a “harvest gold,” a perfect late 1960s-early 1970s compliment to the “avocado” seat in this photo.  (Another design variation featured a padded seat.)  Interestingly, the website where I found this photo, Design Mom,  reports that these babies recently were hot on Ebay because of their design, clearly inspired by the popular chairs designed by Charles Eames in the 1950s and 1960s.  A few years ago, this kiddie booster seat even ”made an appearance on Bravo’s ‘Top Design’ (with Jonathan Adler telling the contestant who put it in his room on a pedestal, ‘that chair is hot!’)”

I’m betting that a lot of the toddler-sized butts of the readers of this blog sat in one of these seats, back in the day. . . at least, those of you over the age of 35 or so!

20 Comments »

20 Responses to “Cosco Go-seat, ca. 1970”

  1. Mother of ALL on 14 Jan 2010 at 9:32 am #

    We actually had both the beige and avocado numbers for our children. Recently, in a pinch we used one of them for a family member when a carseat was not left. The youngster allowed as how it was okay but not real comfortable on his butt. Neither of my children ever complained about a sore but on our many car trips but then they never had the cushy car seats of today. Our original car seat in the late 60′s and early 70′s was the type that between the back of the seat and the actual cushion of the seat. It was gold and matched our gold Impala. I can’t believe my kids survived their childhoods!

  2. Mother of ALL on 14 Jan 2010 at 9:40 am #

    BTW. the official name was the Cosco Go-seat.

  3. Historiann on 14 Jan 2010 at 9:52 am #

    Thanks! I’ll make the change in the headline.

  4. squadratomagico on 14 Jan 2010 at 9:56 am #

    *Intense* *Chair* *Lust*

  5. Tom on 14 Jan 2010 at 10:03 am #

    Never sat on one, Historiann. And I can’t actually remember ever seeing one, to tell the truth. Perhaps our ability to see out the windows was not a high priority for my folks!

  6. squadratomagico on 14 Jan 2010 at 10:18 am #

    I’m with Tom: never heard of this practice. I cannot recall my family, or any other family I knew, having any form of child car seat, for safety or any other reason!

  7. katydid13 on 14 Jan 2010 at 10:51 am #

    I had a booster seat that my father made out of wood and my mom made a little cushion for. I sat on it and the lap belt of our Volkswagon bug secured (or not) everything.

    I don’t think I used it for more than a year or two.

    At 8 or so I was the one in charge of buckling my sister into the carseat and then using the lap belt to secure her and the seat.

    On long drives my mother would let us get out of our seatbelts once were on the highway. I still don’t understand that one.

  8. Susan on 14 Jan 2010 at 11:05 am #

    I was born before the era of seatbelts, never mind car seats. We just rolled around the back seat, climbed over each other, etc.
    But this is way cool. I never saw one — when they came out I lived in NYC, and when we rode in cars, there were no longer kids of an age to sit in a booster seat!

  9. Indyanna on 14 Jan 2010 at 11:12 am #

    I never sat in one of those, or in *any* kind of a car seat, save for the regular grownup seats. Indeed, I have a recollection of *standing* on the front seat of our Chevy Impala slowly going down a curving suburban street near our house, with my father conspiratorially saying don’t tell your mother. I never even saw one of these chromatic boosters, which I guess straddled the era of the introduction of seat belts. I guess you could sort of “secure” one of these with a back seat lap belt, but not sure what good it would do. In those two colors, they must have been meant to be kept in a 1970s kitchen, beside or on top of a Kelvinator refrigerator. Thanks for this bit ‘o fluff, Historiann!

  10. Historiann on 14 Jan 2010 at 12:04 pm #

    katydid13: maybe your mom was in Flight Attendant mode–once the car had taken off, you were free to unbelt and move around the cabin? (Then again, it might not be as potentially deadly as it sounds–don’t most car accidents happen within a mile or two of one’s home?)

    My mother-in-law tells of putting the bassinet containing my future husband in the backseat of her VW bug, on the move from Maryland to Cincinnati. Mother of ALL is right: how did any of us survive our childhoods?

  11. Indyanna on 14 Jan 2010 at 12:12 pm #

    I think most accidents happen close to home because the overwhelming percentage of total miles are driven on short trips, but that the probability of an accident would not significantly decline on the open highway. The seatbelt advocacy campaigns are largely designed to counter the impression that short errand trips need fewer precautions. (I took AmCiv 60whatever, Problems of Methodology, in lieu of a foreign language, but didn’t learn much statistics there!). The severity of accidents would probably rise with the greater speeds of highway driving. I don’t know. Is Ralph Nader in the house?

  12. Notorious Ph.D. on 14 Jan 2010 at 1:49 pm #

    I don’t think I had one of these. We just got plunked down on the back seat, like you. Or, if we were on a long trip, got to roll around in the “way-back” of the station wagon. (And if we misbehaved, we were threatened with having to get tied to the roof rack. Seating for everyone!)

  13. Mother of ALL on 14 Jan 2010 at 2:19 pm #

    Notorious, your parents must have gone to the same parenting classes we did. We once took a 4 week trip out west and the threat was that if one misbehaved they would get duct taped to the roof rack. We kept the tape in the front seat with us. I do remember taping one or both little mouths shut. We also called the back of the wagon “the way-back”.

  14. Indyanna on 14 Jan 2010 at 3:04 pm #

    How does that seat not melt, or get scaldingly hot, if left in the sun in the back of a car on a summer day? Looks like a product liability suit waiting to happen even before the driver pulls out of the Cosco lot. Oh wait, that’s before Joan Claybrook et. al. and consumer activism got into the game.

  15. justme on 14 Jan 2010 at 3:05 pm #

    best car seat ever! Notorious and Mother of ALL– I LOVED rolling around in the “way-back”! on long trips, we would play a game where we would sit with our knees pulled up and roll like Weebles whenever the car turned a corner. I believe the object of the game was to fall completely over and then rock yourself back up.

  16. Matt L on 14 Jan 2010 at 4:07 pm #

    Historiann & Indyanna, I think that you are right. I learned in Motorcycle safety class that most car and bike accidents are within a mile of home. There is more potential for things to go wrong on a surface street, even though its happening at a lower speed. There is two way traffic, negotiating cross traffic at intersections without stop signs, & signals, blind driveways, etc.).

    You are less likely to get the chop on the freeway because all intersections are controlled and the traffic is moving one way. There is a lot less going on, even if its happening faster.

    I am over 35 and I never remember sitting in a car seat. I am pretty sure my sisters did, but I think it faced forward and was just a padded and clunkier version of a restaurant booster seat, nothing cool and designer like the “cosco go seat.” Needless to say, my family had a 13′ Dodge van. On family trips we were allowed to lie on the back bench (the way back) and sleep or read – no seatbelt! In fact only the person up front in the co-pilot chair had to wear his or her seatbelt. Good times!

  17. susurro on 14 Jan 2010 at 8:36 pm #

    Have you ever heard the Elvira Kurt skit about childhoods pre-1980 from her Kitten with a Wit album? This post fits right in. Can’t say I miss the rusty metal days of our youth but I do find the plastic cushioned days of the present a little sanitized.

  18. Brooke on 15 Jan 2010 at 5:47 am #

    We sat loose on those sideways seats in the back of the station wagon (ca. 1969-1975).

    I still don’t grow hair over the scar on my head where I rolled back onto that insane sharp-cornered cube that housed the latch mechanism of the back hatch.

  19. Paul on 15 Jan 2010 at 8:49 am #

    I missed this by a few years – the car seats for myself and my younger brothers had padding and their own seat belts, though they were still probably rudimentary by today’s standards. Also, we didn’t always use them and from age 3 or so on we just sat in the regular seats. I remember the intense rivalry between my brothers for the “hump” seat between the two main passenger seats in the front of the station wagon with the old bench-seating arrangement, since it had the best view. Personally, I was more interested in sitting in the far back of the station wagon so I could slip the seatbelt off and climb into the “back-back”, hoping that Mom or Dad weren’t looking in the rear view mirror at the moment.

  20. Johnny on 05 Oct 2012 at 4:32 pm #

    Yep, I sat in an avocado Go-seat when I was a toddler in the early 70s.

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