Yesterday’s multi-dimensional discussion of Viewmaster reels reminded me that my late brother had an urge for collecting some unusual things. For some reason, he was compelled to accumulate recordings of Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” with celebrity narrators. At the time of his death, he had obtained about a dozen different copies. I know he had versions that featured Peter Ustinov, David Bowie, Jonathan Winters, and in parody form, Weird Al Yankovic.
He also collected stereo cameras.
This is the sort of device that was used to take the Viewmaster photos. Two lenses, set about eye-width apart, would record separate, oh-so-slightly different images. On a Viewmaster reel, these images would be placed opposite each other on the wheel to feed each eyeball the necessary part of the scene. We didn’t have the raw materials to make Viewmaster reels, so my brother used a handheld viewer that could only display one 3-D image at a time.
A couple of his cameras are Realists. I love the sound of that – it makes it seem like the machines have a philosophy. Rather than click, the shutter heaves a deep sigh.
We had great ambitions of building a huge stereo photography library – something to prove to future generations that we, too, had depth as well as color. A friend even picked up a perfect little portable stereo slide filing cabinet at a garage sale – complete with some other family’s memories of Colorado, New Orleans, Michigan and Northern Minnesota. We meant to fill up the drawers with our own adventures. Alas, time won that race. But the cameras remain, accumulating a thick layer of dust.
I could show you exactly how thick the dust is, if you would just peer into this viewfinder …
What makes a sane person collect things?