Today’s guest post is by Clyde.
“A penny saved is a penny earned” is a frequent litany in the kitchen.
Which would perhaps irritate the three children, except the mother also says it every time she adds another penny to the broken teapot sitting high in a glass-fronted cabinet.
If it is a war-time lead penny, still in common circulation at the time, she says, “A lead penny is still a penny earned.”
The collection of pennies is closely watched until they have 105 of them. The expenditure of that $1.05 is carefully planned by the children, a project they complete in collaboration.
One hundred and five pennies buys three sets of View Master reels. A set can be one, two, or three reels, but a pack of three is preferred. They can be purchased at either drug store or the dime store, which is never called by its real name, The Ben Franklin.
As the pennies mount, which takes a few weeks, they study their options. None has any interest in the cartoons or the other things so obviously aimed at children. They only want historic sites, geographic wonders, or world or national travel sites. When tourism becomes an “industry” in northern Minnesota, reels for Duluth and the North Shore start to appear in the selections, which confuses them. How can the Aerial Lift Bridge or Split Rock Lighthouse, which are so familiar and near, rank with the Eiffel Tower?
Over the years they collect and regularly view London, Paris, Rome, New York City, San Francisco, the Rhine, Yellowstone, The Grand Canyon, the buildings and monuments of Washington D.C., Carlsbad Caverns, Mammoth Cave, Niagara Falls, Dawson City, Plymouth, Mt. Vernon, the time of the mastadons, the Everglades, Angel Falls, the Field Museum, the Louvre, and on and on until they become living-room-braided-rug-world-travelers.
The excitement of planning the next purchase is as great, or maybe greater, than viewing the reels themselves.
The appeal is not only in the magic of the stereoptic effect, but also in how the small black viewer pressed to your eyes shuts out the here-and-now and takes you away for as long as your index finger holds out pulling down the lever to spin the reel.
A penny saved is a travel adventure earned.
If you had a magic View Master, what seven pictures from anytime and place would it show?