Thursday, April 19, 2012

The End of an Era

It's not fair. Slides have become passe. And getting slides converted to prints is almost impossible to
get done. I checked with a large number of mainline drug stores and the machines they have only work with computer media. Checking stores like Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Best Buy, and Meijers were just as bad. It seems that the only way to get old slides converted is to work with a major photography store (and I'm not even sure about that) or to buy a slide converter that puts the slides in digital form.

I guess that much of traditional photography has passed its prime. My uncle Ralph, back in the thirties and forties, was a really good photographer. He would take pictures with classic German cameras and process the film in trays in his apartment bathroom. It was all black and white pictures. Later, in Missouri I bought a classic Speed Graphic press camera and did my own processing as well.

In 1941 my father bought an Argus c-3 35millimeter slide camera which he used a lot during our family vacation trip from New York to California. A few of those slides still exist, believe it or not, some which show my brother and I wearing honest to goodness 10-gallon cowboy hats in the image of Tom Mix and his Ralston Straight Shooters, (For those who might never have heard of Tom Mix, he was a movie cowboy in the 1930's also was a featured star in a children's quarter hour afternoon radio serial. I wanted a Stetson because it seemed more western than a tall cowboy hat but I had to deal with what I had.

As time passed I got still and movie cameras well before the days of digital. I can't remember all the cameras I went through but almost all of the cameras were used to take slides, especially of the family.That's the problem I have gotten into - a zillion slides and no way to make prints of them. In the picture above you may get some idea of the pictures I took back in the fifties and sixties. These slides are treasures but without a projector it's hard to look at them, and slides don't go well in scrapbooks.

So with no way to convert the slides to prints it became a real challenge in trying to copy do it commercially. More than challenging, it was nigh on to impossible. And so one more gadget is
added to a computer room (some might call it a man-cave) that Joyce would love to see cleaned
up. It took a bit of experimenting to get the device to work (I needed to learn the proper switch positions) but I finally succeeded. So I think I will make the technology available to friends and members of the family who are faced with old pictures that technology has tried to consume to
the waste of the world. But I have finally come up with a better idea. So there, all you super-stores who move with technology but forget there are a lot of people who some old-timey service

Monday, April 16, 2012

Missing: One B-36

My WW (Wonderful Wife) says I have a tendency to dwell on the past at times. I don't call it dwelling on the past - I prefer to look at it as treasuring good memories. And so we decided to escape the 'closing-in-walls' of our apartment and just go somewhere.

Somewhere turned out to be Rantoul, Illinois, our home away from home off and on from 1953 to 1959. In some ways it was much the same as we remembered, but like most towns we remember from fifty years ago it has changed a lot. The Methodist church is much bigger - there's a lot more shopping but the old Air Force Base - Chanute AFB - is shut down - has been since 1993. Maybe it was time for it to happen - it was one of the oldest bases in service.

As we drove around the base many things were changed - wooden barracks were gone - newer brick dormitories were in  state of decay - and even the roofs of the giant hangars were showing their age. The "new" (new in 1957) hospital our middle daughter Amy was born in - is falling by the wayside. But I recognized the building I worked in and the base headquarters. Some things didn't seem to have changed. But the static display B-36 was gone. Or at least I couldn't find it. Even with the excellent display of aircraft at the Chanute Museum It wasn't in sight. Where was the B-36?

Well it wasn't at Chanute. Probably before the Museum was opened it was dismantled and shipped in pieces to what was Castle AFB in California where it was reconstructed and stands on display there. Probably makes sense when you think about it - Chanute AFB was not a B-36 base and Castle was the home of the big birds - I think they called the the 'Peacemakers." I remember them flying in Texas when I was in basic training, and I remember the cargo version of the B-36, the XC-99, flying in and out of McClellan AFB in California. (If you go back a way in my blogs you'll find a story about the XC-99.

I guess, like old soldiers, airplanes don't always fade away - they just go on display in some museum. And that makes good memories

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Maybe Then but Not Today

It could have been me in 1946.

I had just finished helping a neighbor stuff an attic with insulation. The itchy-scratchy kind. And it was August when a friend and I got done with the job.

We thought a camping trip would suffice as relief from the job and so Eddie and I gathered up survival rations and primitive camping gear and set out for the Hunter Mountain area of New York's Catskill Mountains. No backpacks. No tents. No sleeping bags. No insect repellent. Two bushel bags full of food a little like the picture above but not carried on a pole. And we were hitchhiking.

We arrived at the mountain in late afternoon ate our first meal, and proceeded to spread our primitive
bedrolls to get an evenings rest before setting out on the trails the next morning. What we didn't know was that flies, fleas, gnats, and mosquitoes had scheduled a convention in our camp site and we were their welcome guests.

The joy of camping and hiking was gone by morning and, rather than going back home, we decided to hitchhike to Niagara Falls and back. So back to the highway we went and it was not long before a farmer allowed us the privilege of riding in the back of his pickup truck for a few hours. When he reached his destination, we thumbed another ride in another truck for quite a while. (I think we ended up in Cooperstown of baseball fame by then.)

On the road again, we got a ride from a traveling salesman who got us all the way to Buffalo. On the way we cooked up a supper and he picked up a lady who turned out to be totally out of it from an alcohol binge and she was deposited at the front door of a Syracuse Police station. Then it was on to Buffalo where our driver allowed us to sleep on the floor of his Buffalo apartment living room.

I have no recollection of how we got to Niagara Falls but we made it there, and at the end of the day we decided to stay in a YMCA in Lockport. By this time we were getting a bit "ripe" and the "Y" had showers. The next morning we were on our way again - same clothes since we brought no change of clothes. Somehow we got to an open field between Syracuse and Utica where we camped in an open field. No bugs and 'critters' this time but the ground was really hard and sleep was hard to come by.
Seems to me that we started the day off with a breakfast of sardines and beans since there was not a lot of food left.

The next day we somehow made our way to Albany. How I don't know because we were really looking pretty shabby - an d left some body odor behind wherever we were. Not only that, but we were not very agreeable to each other - we were trying to decide whose crazy idea it was to take this trip anyway. We may have been out of food, but we had a little money in our pockets and decided that in the interest of getting home we would take the train the final 30 or so miles. By the way, it was well before the days of Interstate highways.

When Eddie and I met again some fifty years later we had matured a bit. we had a pleasant reunion but the question still remained: Whose idea was it to take the trip in the first place? And whose idea
was it to give up hiking to go to Niagara Falls? And was the trip a wise one to undertake?

Not on your life - but it was one of those things adventurous teenagers do - and sometimes still do.
But times were different then and we got away with it. I can't say the same for doing stuff like that today.