Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Carousel

When I was younger, I never understood slide people. By "slide", I'm referring to film slides. I recall them being the butt of jokes in tv shows where some unfortunate person(s) is/are forced to sit through a boring presentation of someone else's trip. For example, on the Simpsons when Patty and Selma show slides of their trip to the Yucatan ("And this is Selma dropping off our vacation film to be developed.")
But over the years I've grown to appreciate the vivid colors of those vintage slides through websites like Shorpy and Charles Phoenix's slide of week.
Being a vintage media collector (also known as "AV Geek"), collecting Regular and Super 8 film and cameras , 16mm film and cameras, splicers, etc, I've harbored the idea of owning a Kodak Carousel slide projector, even though I don't own a single slide.
The final episode of Season 1 of Mad Men (one of the few shows I follow), Don Draper makes an ad pitch to a couple of Kodak executives guiding them to a new name for what they call "The Wheel". Possibly the best scene of that season.  Sorry, since I originally posted this, the clip has been pulled from Youtube.  The scene can be summed up by the speech given by Don:
Nostalgia - it's delicate, but potent. Teddy told me that in Greek, "nostalgia" literally means "the pain from an old wound." It's a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone. This device isn't a spaceship, it's a time machine. It goes backwards, and forwards... it takes us to a place where we ache to go again. It's not called the wheel, it's called the carousel. It lets us travel the way a child travels - around and around, and back home again, to a place where we know we are loved.

***Update*** It's back on Youtube (for now) 

That episode secured my mania for a Kodak Carousel slide projector. Yesterday, I found one.
Once a year, the Canterbury Estates subdivision in Affton holds it's neighborhood garage sale the weekend afer Labor Day. It used to be in conjunction with the Saxon Manor subdivision just down the street, but a couple of years ago, Saxon Manor stopped having the sale. Ten years ago, the two together created a carnival atmosphere, with residents selling hot dogs, cotton candy and ice cream along with their worldly possessions. It was among the scant 20 garage sales this year, that I found my Kodak Carousel 800.

It appeared to work well, although it was missing the bulb. The seller, an elderly woman, mentioned of how soon no one would remember how to operate these projectors and said , "Someone has to remember the past." I told her, that was my hobby, remembering the past. She lowered her price to $8. I was thinking more like $5, but she and her husband seemed nice, so I agreed. When I got home, I bid on a replacement bulb for $1.99 on eBay.

One of the attachments that comes with it is a stack loader, which seems an odd accessory for a carousel projector. You're buying the projector, but dismissing it's main feature?

Also within the case was a hand-written list: "Attendance - July 26th". Unfortunately, no year. It lists 7 couples. I wonder if this was a list of friends who had seen the slides so as not to force them to sit through them twice.

I'm reminded of the words of Don Draper, "It's not a space ship, it's a time machine -- looks backwards, forwards... Takes us to a place where we ache to go again." After all, someone has to remember the past.

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