BABEE TENDA, ELMHURST

by Kevin Walsh

Here’s a look at what was a Babee-Tenda showroom at 84-14 Queens Boulevard, just west of Broadway, in Elmhurst in 1940. The company made a sort of high-tech high chair for babies and toddlers, that was portable, adjustable, and easily movable since it was on wheels. (I don’t know how much assembly was required, but since I was notoriously unable to fully assemble most IKEA furniture, I imagine I’d have trouble with it.)

The Kansas City, MO. based company was in business from 1937 to 2018 and later expanded into other kids’ furniture such as adjustable cribs.

In later years the company changed the spelling to Baby Tenda. I had thought the name came from “Love Me Tender,” but the Civil War-era song, originally called “Aura Lee,” was not popularized as “Love Me Tender” until 1956 when Elvis made it the #1 title song of the movie he was in. So, the name is a bit of a mystery to me.

If you remember Babee-Tenda tables, drop it in Comments.

Check out the ForgottenBook, take a look at the gift shop, and as always, “comment…as you see fit.”

2/7/20

22 comments

Brian C. February 7, 2020 - 9:27 am

The building is now a vacant lot but there had been some other business on the property for several years. The tenants may have changed but I remember the overall shape of the structure was pretty much the same until the building’s demolition.

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Edward February 7, 2020 - 1:13 pm

I’m thinking the name derives from “Baby Tender”, in that it helps moms “tend” to their baby.
I note that the ad asserts that it’s a “‘Grand’ Gift for New Mothers”, rather than “great”. Almost sounds like they had an Irish copy writer on staff.

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Punto February 7, 2020 - 1:50 pm

I have photos of my chubby one or two-year-old self in a Babee (or maybe Baby)-Tenda taken 1951/52 eating (or more accurately, wallowing in) chocolate birthday cake. This was in Chicago. The Tenda followed us to Cambridge, Mass. and then to Long Island and became an all-purpose table (there was a separate panel that would function as a hatch over the “tenda” part when there was no one occupying it) residing in our pecky-cypress paneled basement. The table and our very cubic Zenith b/w TV set that also sat in the basement, are two of the most vivid memories that remain of those days. I think the table was still there when my mother finally moved sometime in the late 1980s.

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BST February 7, 2020 - 2:14 pm

baby tender as in tends to your baby while you do tasks or chores

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George Cassidy February 7, 2020 - 6:57 pm

Besides “tender” meaning gentle or soft, someone who takes care of something is a “tender.” So that chair took care of the baby and that’s how you got the name.

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Andy February 7, 2020 - 7:39 pm

The “Tenda” part of the name probably comes from the fact that the device “tended” the baby who was sitting inside it. According to most dictionaries the verb “tend” is synonymous with “watch” or “manage.”
My first child was born in 1975 and my wife and I lived in Queens then, not far from the location in the photo. I don’t remember the contraption in the ad but I do recall that we had some kind of rolling chair device for both of our children. My grandchildren, who are now 9, also had something similar, but not with the name Baby Tenda.
But thanks for posting – amazing what good ad copy looks like!

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Joe Fliel February 7, 2020 - 9:45 pm Reply
John Shea February 9, 2020 - 8:36 pm

What a story!

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John Shea February 7, 2020 - 9:53 pm

Possibly meaning one who tends or watches over

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Doris Muffoletto February 7, 2020 - 10:08 pm

We had one of these for our children in the 1960s.

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Why Ya Wanna Know, Huh?!? February 8, 2020 - 2:02 pm

Sorry, but that name sounds like pure “Bensonhoistese” as spoken by “big hair” girls & the type of business one would find in Ceasar’s Friggin’ Bay Bizarre in the ’80s. Picture it: The Belt Parkway bike bath, summer, mid ‘8os, 2 local girls furiously pedaling southbound,ozone depleting big hair barely moving in the wind:

“Nyeah, Angela, we got to get to dat Babee freakin’ Tenda before dey friggin’ close! I need a gift for da showuh tumarruh!!!” (while snapping gum loudly)

“Look Lorretta, I’m pedaling as fast as I freakin’ can, OK? And did ya tell Vinny he ain’t da friggin’ fadduh?!?” (while applying mascara with her left hand, utilizing her bike mirror).

“No I didn’t, & ya bettuh not open your friggin’ mouth, eiduh. If you do, I’ll tell him doze things you do with dem friggin’ garlic knots!”

“Oh, OK den.”

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redstaterefugee February 9, 2020 - 10:03 am

More likely Angela & Loretta’s vehicle of choice was either a T-top Camaro/Firebird or a Mustang convertible given as a high school graduation present (“Fuhgedaboudit!”)

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redstaterefugee February 10, 2020 - 10:30 am

What Angela & Loretta’s true vehicle of choice looked like:

https://www.hemmings.com/classifieds/dealer/pontiac/firebird/2371267.html?refer=blog

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The Return of Abend February 10, 2020 - 12:57 pm

Not for nuttin’, but dey wasn’t yet of freakin’ age for noffriggin’ cahr. Dey wuz in dere prime ozone depleting years. Nyeah…how friggin”bout dat, huh?!?

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redstaterefugee February 12, 2020 - 9:43 am

Either way, “fugedaboudit!” Dr. Abend, they were too young for you!

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The Return of Abend February 12, 2020 - 2:20 pm

LOL – but let’s see now…I would be how old now…hmmm…around 120? The gap has closed significantly: I’m “only” twice their age now. They’re free to (literally) jump my bones whenever they’d like! Cemetery/gravesite location available upon request).

Jeff B. February 8, 2020 - 11:18 pm

I had a Babee Tenda or reasonable facsimile of one as a toddler in The Bronx; I don’t know how my parents fit into the tiny kitchen. It followed us to Paramus where I used it, then my brother and possibly my sister who was born in the mid 60s. Looked just like the one in the ad. It probably came from my Uncle’s Toy, Dinette & Juvenile Furniture store on E167th St near the Concourse or my other Uncle’s store that sold the same mix of goods on University Av & Tremont Av.

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WHY YA WANNA KNOW, HUH? February 9, 2020 - 9:52 am

Part 2: “We’re Almost Dare!”

“Whoa, Loretta, why’d ya friggin’ stop for?!? Dare gonna close soon!”

“Well ya got me peddlin’ so freakin’ fast I think I gave boith premafrigginturely a few yards back! I’m toinin’ back to look!”

“Well, alright den, but don’t take all friggin’ day. I’ll go wid ya.”

*** Several friggin’ yards later ***

“Oh Loretta look over dare!”

“Where?”

“Up in da sky, OK? ON DA GROUND, ANG’, THE FREAKIN’ GROUND, WHERE THE FRIG ELSE?!?”

“I don’t see nuttin except an old piece of pizza! Whadda ya tryin’ say, dat’s my baby ovuh dare on the freakin’ ground? Dat my baby looks like a piece of week-old friggin’ disgusting slice of pizza?!?”

“Well, only around the crust…just sayin'”

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Al Tz February 10, 2020 - 12:31 am

For many years this building has been used as the entrance to the D&D Auto Glass repair garage. It got wider the further it got from Queens Boulevard. It is situated almost back-to-back with the Engine Co. 287 firehouse on Grand Avenue opposite Seabury Street.

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Vince P. February 13, 2020 - 2:44 pm

I remember that building when it was an Auto Repair Shop. It had that unique framed window above the garage entrance and often wondered what it was originally.

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Ethan Rasiel February 18, 2020 - 9:31 pm

Looks like Babee Tenda as a corporate entity was still in business right up until 2018. Being convicted of mail fraud for hosting fake “safety seminars” which were really just sales pitches, couldn’t have helped matters. https://www.babybargains.com/guilty-baby-tenda-committed-mail-fraud-court-rules/

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jerry [formerly of Bklyn] March 7, 2020 - 3:14 pm

I was born in 1955 and had one. My sister was born in 1957 and she used it. My brother was born in 1960 and it got more use. And then, my sister was born in 1966 and used it. I remember it collapsing in what
seemed like a million pieces onto the floor. My sister wasn’t hurt. I think my parents got their money’s worth out of it.

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