People’s moms and grandmas bought this. And it was not for massaging their shoulders.
Look. There are some products that have been marketed as “massagers” (oh, if only I could make those quote marks embody the true scope of the nudge-nudging and wink-winking here) that have actually been what they say they are. But really, pretty much anything that’s sold in a box with the word “massager” on it, and that vibrates, is being used as a sex toy. It just is. Resign yourself to it. In fact, you might be familiar with that most infamous of repurposed massagers, the Hitachi Magic Wand. If you’re not, I’ll wait while you use your internet skillz to find out.
OK, now that that’s out of your system …
So I was antiquing in Las Vegas over Thanksgiving weekend, and I came across this bad boy. The Oster Stim-U-Lax Junior Home Massage Instrument. Complete with original package, instruction manual, and warranty card, copyright 1952. And how glorious it was. Of course, it came home with me.
Check it out (click on any of the images for full size):
Well, it does have a UL certification, so that’s heartening. And I like how the word “STIM” has sort of wavy letters. You know, so we get the idea that it vibrates. Let’s open it up, shall we?
The box is pretty much being held together with spit and baling wire, which is impressive considering that black mamba of a cord going on there. Mr Adderly suggested I plug it in to see if it still worked. I passed on almost certain death by electrical shock, you’ll be happy to know, so more stories for you.
So amazingly, all the original parts seem to be here. Yes. The scary metal piece of machinery that looks like you’d hook it up to an air compressor and repaint your siding is the “massager”. And of course, there’s the manual and warranty card. There was also a tiny envelope carrying a black rubber cap of some sort, which I eventually figured out covers up a brass fitting on the thing. And yes, I am secretly an old lady who has a clear vinyl cover on top of my table cloth. Don’t judge me.
Of course, I had to try it on. This thing weighs over two pounds, ya’ll. It is heavy. Who could relax while using this? It would be a workout just to hold up your hand. And dig the super-comfy metal spring straps. I’m sure no body hair would possibly ever get pinched and yanked in there while it was vibrating. See, the idea is that this crazy thing vibrates your hand, and then you use your buzzing fingers to do the work. Hmmm.
This thing is hardcore, yo. If someone broke into your house while you were massaging away, you could just clock them with it. Probably help them shed a few teeth in the bargain.
The pictures on the manual cover are pretty helpful. That guy’s hair was sore, I’m sure. And the top of that chick’s armpit. She’s looking down at that scary hunk of metal and hard rubber as though it were the caress of butterfly wings. I’m not posting images of every page in the manual, but here are at least some:
“You’ll look forward to its soothing, relaxing effect after a day of hard work. You will soon learn to value its stimulating benefits after every strenuous activity, be it work or play.”
Yeah, I’ll bet you will.
And note that they bloody well gave you plenty to read in 1952. They’re giving you the entire treatise here. The History of the Decline and Fall of the Art of Massage. You will come away from this manual educated, by god.
“The three main massage movements are stroking, kneading, and vibration.”
Yes. Yes they are.
Look at these sharply dressed and smartly coiffed people enjoying their massage. You just know you’ll enjoy it, too!
The manual goes on to give tips on various types of massage, including massaging your gums, because why not?
“… several thousand rotating-patting Swedish-type massage movements per minute are delivered to your fingers which you can control from a very mild to a more vigorous application.”
And I like the diagram so we can see how the massager is supposed to waggle our fingers. Thank you, helpful-diagram drawing man. Thank you.
I, of course, don’t doubt the efficacy of the Stim-U-Lax Junior one bit. After all, it’s guaranteed.