Our Way Back When — A Slide Show

Photo by Gemma Evans on Unsplash

That’s a slide — for anyone who doesn’t know, hasn’t seen.

I feel sorry for you.

You have missed an ultimate human experience: the compulsory viewing of someone else’s major life event complete with droning monologue, barks of laughter, and unending stories about people you never met and now hope you never will.

The viewing was held in a room made twilight by pulling down shades and drawing the curtains closed. Light would leak around the edges and create an uncommitted dark. Seating would be close, the room made stuffy by the slide projector and the noisy, breathing humans crowded on not enough comfortable furniture. Children sat on the floor.

Cameras and film were expensive — as was the major life event — and viewing countless slides was an essential activity. You role was to pay attention and follow along in the unfolding story. Don’t hog the potato chips and stop picking on your brother.

Slower than you would think possible, the slide projector would advance, one slide at a time dropping into the slot where a bright light would bring it to life. The projector would hum high and loud with a whishing sound. That was the fan blowing out the hot air to deliver the whooshing, stuffy experience.

It was not uncommon for people to fall asleep. If you were very lucky, you slept through most of the viewing. All you had to do to ensure the satisfaction of the host was to compliment the pictures and thank him for the joy of the slide show.

Most slide shows included an array of blurry vacation pictures marred by fingers, scowling children, and unidentifiable venues.

“Where was that, sweetheart?” The view master would ask his wife occupied with breaking up fights and offering snacks to the guests.

She would squinch her eyes at the screen. Most of the time, she had been at the great event, but these were random shots or stiff arrangements that didn’t look like what she remembered.

With great difficulty, the wife or others might persuade the view master to continue his excellent show. Keep him moving was the guiding principle.

After too long, the show would be over. Lights would be turned back on. The windows would be opened. The audience would stand, stretch, and say nice things while they escaped stuffy, tight confines.

That’s if you were lucky.

If you were family or a close friend, you might be subjected to multiple viewings.

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