You can keep your hot-tub-based time travel. There's only two forms of time-travel I find acceptable -- a big blue Police Box and thrift stores. Still high on yesterday's unexpected ink-acquisition (nobody expects the French ink-acquisition) I made the usual trek out and about. It was a good day.
First, a Hermes Baby, something I've been watching for for some time. I've really taken a shine to travel-sized typewriters, and I think I'm slimming down the bigger, bulkier members of my collection to get a little more focus on these ultra-portable machines. I like the compactness, and the Baby is very compact. So much so that I hardly recognized it in its tiny case, sitting on the shelf. I've managed a dusting and need to work the keys a bit but I can already tell this is a slick little portable, and destined to be an on-the-lap machine come November. This is a 1943 model, with smooth (not crinkle) paint, with a cool "marbling" effect I've never seen on a typewriter before. And of course, those excellent flip-up ribbon covers.
And an overall shot:
Trying to keep my composure on the way to the checkout line, I peeked down into the display case and saw a tattered baggie with these inside:
Fogies in the audience may recognize this as three boxes of 126 film (for bigger-style Instamatic cameras) and three pouches of 110 film (for the skinnier "pocket instamatic.") I owe thanks to whatever local hoarder had the good sense to go to K-Mart, um, over thirty years ago and then promptly forget about this film in the back of the drawer. And then again twenty-five years ago, and again five years later. The film may be completely shot, but the plastic cartridges are what's valuable to me. You may remember that my very first camera was an Instamatic, as I suppose was true of many people my generation. Flawed though it was, the film-in-a-cartridge format was simple for small hands to use, nearly impossible to ruin (at worst, you would expose one frame), and cheap and plentiful, at least during the Carter/Reagan/Bush I eras. Now it can serve as a lightproof housing for 35mm film, thanks to various hacks posted online.
Even more exciting for me, though, is the sudden rush of memory I got when handling these boxes. Sometime around thirty plus years or so ago, when that first box of film was sitting unbought on a California K-Mart shelf, I was standing in the middle of our dusty country road with my dad, working on my first-ever pinhole camera, which consisted of a simple box rubber-banded to the front of a 126 cartridge. Pretty much this one, in fact, even down to using a nickel to wind it. This was an experiment in a science-kit-of-the-month-club that we had joined, and I remember standing out in the road, trying to get a picture of our little pre-fab next to the empty dirt lot, right on the other side of the City Limit line. If I close my eyes, I can hear the cicadas thrumming in the tall weeds in the ditch behind me, my elbow resting for balance on the plastic newspaper-mailbox attached to our regular mailbox so I wouldn't topple back into the murky water. I'm pretty sure I'm wearing Keds with orange reflective dots on the heels.
As I recall, the pictures were a disappointment to me, caused, no doubt, by our less-than-tiny tinfoil pinhole board, and the shaky, unsteady hand of an under-ten photographer who was used used to the great gravelly wind-wind-click rhythm of his high-tech Instamatic. This isn't photography! Well, maybe not. But it's a solid memory, and now I'm rushing back to it in my own time machine.
World Pinhole Day is coming up near the end of the month. I'll be forty then, and some of this film nearly so. I think it might be time to break out the rubber bands and a nickel, find a mailbox someplace to lean against, and pin down a new memory or two.