The Camera

[Image Argus C3]

Dad was 10 when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and when his brother died at Guadalcanal. He was 14 when the US bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Japanese surrendered. He was 21 when a WWII hero beat out an intellectual liberal to break the 20-year hold the Democrats had on the presidency.

He’d married my mother the year before. A few years later the kids showed up, two years apart in stair-step fashion. It  was the Fifties, the golden age of the slide projector.

[perhaps a video of vacation slide shows?]

Somewhere along the way he bought an Argus C3, The Brick, a solid little workhorse that was one of the most popular cameras ever produced.

Of course he started off with film, but a guy in the Fifties with a new family and a fascination with technology isn’t going to be satisfied stuffing scallop-edged prints into the little stick-on photo corners mashed onto the coarse black pages of a photo album.

A real man planted the tripod opposite the couch in front of the picture window (drapes drawn), extended the vertical bar, raised the silver screen, and looped the triangular handle over the hook. Then he positioned the slide projector on the coffee table, adjusting the front leg to target the center of the screen, loaded a tray of slides, and signaled a kid to kill the lights. Popcorn optional.

And boy did we have slides. Baby pics. First step pics. Birthday photos with the party hat and the candles. And then came the vacation slideshows.The Henry Ford Museum. The Statue of Liberty. The Smithsonian. The Grand Canyon. The Petrified Forest. The Arizona Meteor Crater (which could contain the entire town of Fred, Texas). Redwood National Park. Disneyland. We managed to hit the park on July 4, 1972, so the fireworks and the Parade of Lights were particularly impressive, and by then Dad was quite accomplished in managing exposures. Unfortunately, all those photos were lost in a multitude of moves.

A few years later I caught the bug and burned a few rolls of film myself. But that’s another story.