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Technology takes away Kodachrome

POSTED: July 1, 2009 4:00 a.m.

In the past few days, the Eastman Kodak company announced that its Kodachrome film would be no more.

  

Kodachrome was Kodak’s slide film. It was idolized in a song by Paul Simon. The song included the classic line, “Mama don’t take my Kodachrome away.”

  

Mama, unfortunately, was not the culprit. It was technology. Slides have gone the way of the nickel Coke. I can’t let them go without lamenting their demise.

  

We had a neighbor who made slides of everything, particularly his family’s trips to places like Yellowstone National Park and Mount Rushmore. He had a fine slide projector and I can always remember him talking about his prized lenticular screen. It had the same surface as the great movie halls, he always boasted.

  

I remember when he upgraded to the Kodak Carousel projector. It held even more slides and, sure enough, he would make even more. We saw every detail of his vacation destination.

  

I can remember nodding off at the slide shows, which usually followed dinner.

  

We didn’t have a slide set up. We had another Kodak camera, the Brownie. You had to hold it at your waist and look through a prism. Then, we graduated to a Polaroid, another dinosaur that has gone by the wayside.

  

The Polaroid had a bellows that popped out when you opened it. Part of the reason we had the Polaroid is because we had some source of black and white Polaroid film. The pictures came and had to process. We used to put them under our arm to make them warm. You peeled off the print and disposed of the gooey negative, which we were told would dissolve your skin.

  

Then, you coated the print with some stinking coating that was supposed to keep it from fading.

  

We could make lots of black and white Polaroids, but we never had a slide show.

  

Years later, I worked at a hospital and made slides for doctors. Sometimes, I would make slides in surgery. I got to scrub both me and the camera. I got to wear green scrubs, a mask and a hat. I wasn’t a doctor, but I looked like one with a camera.

  

Some of these guys were making these slides for presentations at doctor conventions, usually held at places that had palm trees and served drinks with little umbrellas.

  

I’ve never been to the Virgin Islands, but my Kodachome has. Some doctor enjoying the tropics viewed my pictures of someone’s insides, while thinking about going outside and playing golf.

  

Slides were hip, slides were cool. Now, they’re gone.

  

They’ve been replaced by digital cameras and programs like PowerPoint. 

  

Someone once said that an expert was someone from at least 20 miles away who brought his own slides.

  

Now, I guess an expert is someone who brings his own digital images on a little gizmo that is about the size of a pack of gum.

  

Quite frankly, I haven’t shot a slide in over a decade, but their demise is another one of those things that makes me sad.

  

If you’ve still got your slides of your trip to the Grand Canyon or Hawaii. Call me, I’ll come over and we can reminisce. If dinner is served and you’ve got a comfy couch, I may be there awhile.

  

Harris Blackwood is the author of “When Old Mowers Die.” His e-mail address is harrisblackwood@gmail.com. 

 

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