Mining Family History

When my father died in 2001, I acquired his boxes of slides. The earliest were in three or four metal boxes with rows of slots that would hold two slides each. These were mostly taken from my early childhood and before – many of them early family pics from before I was born, of relatives I never met. Some of them are of road trips my parents took in England, when I was a babe. Some are from later back in the US, where we settled in Apple Valley, the high desert northeast of Los Angeles. Many of these I recall seeing as I was growing up, in evening ‘slide shows’, when we would set up the slide projector to look at them, projected on a portable screen, sometimes for ourselves, sometimes for visiting friends. (There was a social cliché for a while, perhaps now obsolete, about boring your friend with slides from your latest vacation.)

It turns out there are more than those three or four boxes of slides. There are several ‘carousels’ of slides that were taken later than those in the metal boxes. (One of Don Draper’s moments of genius, according to an early episode of Man Men, was coming up with the word ‘carousel’ to describe what before were termed merely ‘wheels’.) I haven’t looked these carefully, because the carousel projector itself is malfunctioning; the carousel doesn’t advance in order to move to the next slide automatically. Which means I will have to manually take the slides out the carousel and either insert them directly into the projector one at a time, or look at them via the slide sorter that I fortunately acquired along with all the pics. (It’s a big square plastic tray, illuminated from behind by a light bulb, mounted upright at an angle with ledges to place the slides on. Enough ledges to look at 20 or 30 slides at a time.)

Most of these slides were I think from trips my family took after I’d moved out and was living on my own, and they’d moved from Los Angeles back east to Tennessee.

There are also, I hadn’t appreciated until now, lots of loose boxes of developed slides (little boxes that hold 10 or 12 slides in two stacks each), that were never loaded into metal boxes or carousels, and mostly slides that I’ve never seen, I am discovering. Some are from events after I’d moved out… but some are from years before. My college grad pics! Alas, many of them are faded and completely reddish… though amazingly, some older slides, of my brother and sisters in the early ‘60s, still have full color.

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