Flea Market Walk About – Random Camera – 04/29/2017

====== Flea Market Walk About ======
====== Collecting for Nostalgia ====

On the way home from work this evening my mind started it’s Friday evening offloading of all the week’s events and sorting out the things still left undone. I realized I hadn’t started on the ‘Flea Market Walk About’ and had probably been putting it off because Cheryl and I haven’t had much of an opportunity to get and make our usual thrift/antique store circuit.
When I got home I was still mulling over the fact that I didn’t have a clue what I was going to write about this week. Sitting on the sofa with Cheryl and talking about dinner plans I happened to look over at her camera shelf and saw my Kodak Tourist perched forlornly on the bottom with some of her old folders. The look it was giving me was that of a neglected puppy. I realized I’ve been ignoring it for quite a while. Here comes the ‘Nostalgia’ part of the post.
I bought the Tourist because it’s identical to the one my mom had when I was young. She used it to record every cute thing my sister and I did from the time we were toddlers until we got to be just annoying pre-teens and wouldn’t sit still for pictures anyway. It was the camera that taught me about photography. After watching Mom using it and seeing that envelope full of pictures come back from the drug store I decided this was kinda cool. I sweet talked her into letting me take some pictures under her supervision and kept pestering her to buy more film so we could take more pictures. Funny how addictive that can become. Eventually I decided I didn’t want to share the Tourist anymore (or maybe it was the other way around) and scored a little Kodak Reflex 127 camera in a ‘junk store’ near where we lived in Clovis NM. I used that for a long time and can still remember vividly taking pictures during a New Mexico winter of the snow and the the trees and just about freezing my fingers off.
I’ve lost track of how many cameras I’ve gone through in the last 60 or so years but I’ve never forgotten Mom’s camera. Every once in a while I’d see one for sale but never could quite bring myself to buy it. Maybe it was because it wasn’t really Mom’s Tourist. Since she passed away a few years ago I’ve come to realize that her camera is lost and gone forever and I doubt if my sister will ever find it in Mom’s stuff.
Last summer when Cheryl and I were doing one of our antique store walks I saw this particular Kodak Tourist. I looked it over and it was in great shape. Just holding it and unfolding brought back a flood of memories. It was only $20 so I took it home.
The next time Cheryl and I went out for photo walk we took old cameras with us. We stopped at the visitor’s center for the Garden of the Gods park in Colorado Springs (Colorado USA) and took some pictures looking west towards the foothills of the Rockies. It’s a great view and I was hoping my shots would come out the way I remembered the ones from Mom’s Tourist did. When we got the prints back I was disappointed. The colors were muted and everything was hazy and slightly out of focus. When we got home I put the camera on Cheryl’s shelf to keep company with her Foldex and Kodak Vigilant Jr and that’s where it’s been ever since.
When I saw it sitting there this evening I was somewhat ashamed of myself. I’ve repaired all sorts of point and shoots and rangefinders but hadn’t even thought about trying to figure out why the Tourist wasn’t up to snuff. I found my toolkit and removed the two screws that attach the shutter and it lifted off with no problem at all. I cleaned the simple old meniscus lens and removed the shutter’s front plate and took a look through the round glass that protects the aperture blades. Guess what? It was filthy and was like looking through a dirty window pane. I wonder what was causing the blurry pictures? Duh…
Collecting for nostalgia’s sake isn’t such a bad thing. Every time I use Cheryl’s grandad’s old Canon Ftb I see him in my mind’s eye and remember how much he loved photography. The Kodak Tourist brings up a picture of my mother in her twenties or thirties. Young, happy and vivacious.
One of my cousins sent my sister some pictures she’d found of our family while she was going through her mom’s belongings. It brings tears to my eyes to see that the pictures in my mind are the same ones my Aunt Alynn captured of us more than half a century ago.
After I finished cleaning up the old Tourist I modified a roll of 120 to fit and we’re going to take it down to the Springs this weekend for another outing. With any kind of luck the pictures will be stellar. Even if they aren’t it doesn’t matter. It’s going to have a place of honor on my camera shelf anyway.

4 thoughts on “Flea Market Walk About – Random Camera – 04/29/2017

  1. Interesting read Randy. I don’t have your interest in old cameras or your skill for repairing them. In the 1980’s I gave up a perfectly sound teaching post to try my hand as a professional photographer and for almost two years managed to scrape together a living shooting weddings and family portraits using a Pentax camera. I often see similar cameras in charity shops with ridiculous price tags of a couple of pounds but I am always put off buying them by two things. Firstly the previously mentioned lack of repair skills and I don’t really need a complex paperweight. And secondly, I never felt that joy in anticipation that one day my prints will come. (Did you see what I did there?) I wanted the result immediately not least because of a couple of disastrous wedding jobs when the prints did not come. Or more accurately, were not as I had intended them owing to various issues, some my own fault and others just down to ill luck. In any case explaining to a young couple that their eagerly anticipated wedding memories were a complete washout is not my favourite pastime. No re shoots in wedding photography. Modern DSLR cameras allow us chimpers to know that we have a good result from the off allowing a ‘do over’ there and then if not. I love seeing your shots of and using your collection and admire your skills both as a photographer and as a technician but have no wish personally to turn the clock back and take up film photography again. To me film is the past but seeing you keep it alive through your hobby allows me a vicarious and risk free wallow in the nostalgia of those days. Thank you.

    • Thanks Graham. I admire your what we’d call ‘gumption’ in launching into a career as a professional photographer. I know a dozen or more excellent guitarists and banjo players personally who do it for love of music because they know what a struggle it would be to try to make a living at it. Out of those only three or four have made the jump to ‘professionals’ and didn’t lose their grip when the got to the other side of the chasm. I love both digital and film photography. They both have their special qualities but I love to tinker and make things work so old film cameras and using film challenge me more than digital photography. Appreciate your first comment on my new blog. I truly admire your dedication to the pursuit of photography and your opening up your home country to me and others in a way that we’ll probably never get to experiences. Cheers!

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