ROCHESTER, September 26 — Eastman Kodak Company today announced its intent to stop making and selling slide projectors by June 2004.
“The Kodak slide projector has been a hallmark for quality and ubiquity, used for decades to produce the best in audio visual shows throughout the world,” the company said. “However, in recent years, slide projectors have declined in usage, replaced by alternative projection technologies.”
One of my happiest and most comforting memories of childhood was our family slide shows. These coveted “movie nights” which generally took place once a year, consisted of nothing more than three simple ingredients: a blank wall in our living room, a Kodak carousel slide projector with my father at the helm and myself and three sisters, huddled on the sofa, pressed together in anticipation like peas in a pod. My mother, who had seen the slide shows too many times to mention, usually busied herself with other things, occasionally stopping in to comment on a particularly beloved picture. Prior to turning off the lights, my father would announce in a deep theatrical voice “Who wants a magic drink?”
They were always different in taste and made from whatever struck his fancy that night; orange juice with a splash of pineapple juice and grenadine or perhaps apple juice and ginger ale with a jigger of seltzer. The ingredients were unimportant. It was the anticipation of what was to be and the lovely ritual of our movie night routine that we cherished.Those magic drinks were just part of the show.
Some days, in the quiet of my mind, I still hear the slow deliberate click of the projector as it advanced from slide to slide alike the images before us, advancing from toddler to teenager. Life in pictures, displayed on the wall of our darkened living room. There was always one slide, without fail, that was turned upside down. This would halt the show momentarily, as my father with a slightly frustrated “tsk” would right the renegade slide. And we were ready to go once again.
I loved that Kodak carousel projector and the faded ecru boxes of slides stacked beside it. They were never labeled, so each reel was a surprise in itself. Who might appear on the screen that night was anyones guess — my six or sixteen year old self? Our first family pet Bubbles the beagle, or our gentle giant of a Great Dane we called Jenny? My mother posing on the beach in her youth, or proudly cradling her first grandchild? The lack of chronology and what to expect only heightened the experience.
When my parents died, I cared about no other of their possessions but that time warped machine that could somehow transform me back to long ago family vacations, birthday parties and people and places no more. With the blessings of my three sisters, I brought the projector back to my own home with the promise to bring it to family gatherings, a carousel reunion of sort.Though it has yet to be. It sits up on a shelf in an unused room. I have taken it down one or two times in a half hearted attempt to have my own family slide show but then, as it spits and jams due to age, return it in frustration to the lone closet. Surely there is somewhere that can restore the Kodak carousel to the beauty of its youth.
And I will mix for my own sons, the magic drinks..