Remember when you’d visit family and they’d pull out the slide projector for the three-hour presentation of their trip to Carlsbad Caverns and Dodge City?
Now, I loved family vacations as much as the next kid. But, they were our family vacations, not someone else’s. And the vacations that included a three-hour presentation of your kinfolk donning swimsuits, tank tops, and tennis shoes, while smiling and standing in front of some tourist trap in New Mexico, was not how you wanted to spend a Fourth of July or Labor Day weekend.
The trip would start out something like this:
Kid in the backseat of Buick: “Dad, are we going to go to Wally World, or they going to make us sit through those stupid vacation pictures again?”
Dad: “Don’t make me pull this car over.”
Mom: “Honey, Clovis spends a lot of time and money taking those pictures and having them developed. We need to be nice and watch the show.”
Other kid in backseat of Buick: “I have to potty.”
And so begins the family vacation. A vacation that will include traveling a great distance, only to sit cross-legged in shag carpet and spend hours reliving someone else’s vacation.
Kids today don’t know how good they have it. Slide projectors have gone the way of the wall phone. We no longer have to worry about someone rising from the supper table, heading to the hall closet, and dragging out the Bell and Howell to set up for a showing of 100 photo slides on the fancy dining room wall.
In those days, grownups bought houses with a fancy living room with plastic covered furniture and a fancy dining room with a long table and lots of chairs — neither of which were ever used.
Except for the fancy dining room, which was only used if company was over and the slide projector came out.
For those who never lived through this era, let me explain.
A long, long time ago (the 1970s), before the internet and cable TV, there were small devices we carried around with us to take photographs. These devices were called cameras. And inside these cameras we put a medium called film, that, when exposed via a lens, captured a moment in time.
When the film was used up, it was taken to a camera store where it was developed and put either on photographic paper or on something called slides.
Slides were small, square transparent images of each photo that, when placed in the carousel of a slide projector, could be shone on a screen or wall. Each projector had a powerful bulb that could project a large and crystal clear image of Aunt Nelda eating an ice cream cone at a roadside stop somewhere outside of Walla Walla.
Not that anyone besides Uncle Clovis and Aunt Nelda wanted to see said slide, but the projector made such exciting slices of history available to those held captive in a living room in 1973.
And it did. Often. Too often. Like, every single time you went to their house.
Kid in backseat of Buick: “Dad, I’ve thought about it. Please pull the car over.”
Dad: “Is there a liquor store around here?”
Slide shows were once for schools and corporate events. The educational possibilities were endless. But, once slides and slide projectors became affordable to the masses, slide presentations went from showing the accomplishments of a company over the previous year, to photos of cousins squinting into the camera in front of a dinosaur-themed motel somewhere on Route 66.
Once the slide shows in the fancy dining room would start, I’d try to make some sort of excuse to leave the room. I learned that a sick stomach, leg cramps, dysentery, stroke, heart attack, radiation exposure, and Ebola were not excuses to be allowed to leave the fancy dining room.
If dad had to sit through the slide show, we all had to sit through the slide show.
The worst part of the projector presentations was when they announced that that was the last slide from there vacation, only to then announce that they had slides of Christmas. At our house. Which we were in. And had already seen.
Kid: “Dad, can we go home now?”
Dad: “Not until we find a liquor store.”
And that, kids, is how your parents and grandparents used to spend their vacations. Consider yourself lucky. Instead of sitting through a long, drawn out slide show at Uncle Clovis and Aunt Nelda’s house, you can bury yourself in your cellphone.
Or my cellphone. I have some photos of your grandmother and me that were taken at bingo in Vegas.
Email John Moore at John@TheCountryWriter.com. To buy his book, “Write of Passage: A Southerner’s View of Then and Now Vol. 1 and Vol. 2,” or to listen to his weekly John G. Moore 5-Minute Podcast, visit www.TheCountryWriter.com.