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 mast 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.
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 yellow 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 anyone’s 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 only added to the experience.
Some days, in the quiet of my mind, I can still hear the slow deliberate click of the projector, advancing slowly, telling without words the story of our life. Slide to slide, toddler to teenager, mother to grandmother, youth to twilight. An entire lifetime displayed on the wall of the darkened living room.
When my parents died, I cared about no other of their possessions albeit that time warped machine that could somehow transform me back to family vacations, birthday parties and people and places no more. With my sister’s blessings, I brought it to my own home with the promise to bring it to family gatherings, a carousal reunion of sort. Though it is 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 carousal to the beauty of its youth so we may once again enjoy those magical images.
And I will mix for my own sons, those magic drinks..