Monday, February 21, 2011

The Viewmaster

My grandparents kept the Viewmaster in the top drawer of the side table in the den. Every Friday when my sister Jody and I would visit them, we would promptly take the plastic machine out, spread out all of the reels, and start clicking away.
The Viewmaster was developed in Oregon by a company named Sawyer's. Like the stereoscope, it afforded 3D viewing, but because The Viewmaster used full color Kodachrome film rather than printed postcards, the images were crisper.
Originally the Viewmaster focused on geographic and scenic imagery. Our grandparents were world travelers and they made sure to bring the world to our fingertips. My sister remembers flicking through Rome; I was rather impressed with Hawaii. Jody says, "I guess at the time without cable or Video or DVDs I was hungry for images that included broader scopes of the world."
Later on, stills from popular TV shows and children's stories were included. Hands down, my sister and I loved the Barbie reels the most. But we also liked Laugh In and Dark Shadows.
Thinking back, my sister liked the privacy of the whole viewing experience a la Viewmaster. I, however, remember that we'd argue about whose turn it was to look through and pull the trigger. For the most part though, we shared nicely, passing the Viewmaster between us, and commenting on the decor of Barbie's home.

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