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Saturday, February 28, 2009

He was Fonda View-Master

If you grew up in the 70's, odds are you saw Henry Fonda's endorsement of The GAF View-Master viewer and disks (photo courtesy of www.viewmaster.co.uk). If you remember this, then you may also remember some comedian of that era doing a Henry Fonda impression and really exaggerating his pronunciation of GAF as, "GGGAAAAFFF". For those of you who grew up during the 80's or later, well, your time line for the progress of picture viewers goes something like this: Cave drawings>View-Master>Image viewer on an I-pod, or mp3 player. So, somewhere in the middle ages a company, possibly Sawyer, invented a hand-held slide viewer that could hold 7 images with a caption on a single disk. Oh, there were other viewers, but mainly the kind that you find for inspecting a single 35mm slide. The View-Master was really an updated version of the stereoscope.

I often see these disks and viewers at tag sales and get a little nostalgic for the one I had as a kid. In the 60's & 70's the company (or whom ever owned the rights to it) reinvented this toy by creating disks that featured scenes from Disney movies and television programs. In many cases these scenes were elaborately recreated by modelers with full back drops that allow the View Master photographers the ability to create the 3d effect with great depth of field. I remember the Flintstones disk I had and how they had captured the "barney-copter's" flight and froze it in mid air. This was impressive to a 10 year old. So, I look at these disks from time to time, just to see what's on them. I am not sure at which sale this one disk caught my attention:
Hmmm, rural Connecticut. This really tickled the urban archeologist in me. Local history courtesy of View-Master promoting the images as "7 more wonders of the world". What in Connecticut could possibly have stood out to the photo editors as comparable to the great pyramid of Giza?
Whoa! 3 locations in Western Connecticut! Kent Falls, Lover's Leap, and Candlewood Lake . With a copyright date of 1950 this means there may be an opportunity to compare the images on the disk side by side with the 3 locations now 59 years later. The challenge (or fun) will be trying to figure out where the photographer was standing when he/she took the pictures and how to get these to a size and resolution where visitors can appreciate them. Here is my best shot of the Candlewood Lake one (note the yellow flowers in the foreground):
Any guesses? Ugh! Me neither. Maybe from Mist Hill in New Milford as you look at the behemoth peninsula that becomes Indian Point? However, without subtracting 59 years of growth and development I may have to stand in someone's basement to find the right spot. I took the same close up of this disk section and flipped it because it has as good a shot of Lovers Leap (clicking on it will make it easier to see):
What I find fascinating in this shot is the huge land mass that occupies the middle of this northerly section of lake Lillinonah (which the Housatonic feeds in to). Look at this image which was loaned to me for this post by RichardRizzo from his blog: Minds Eye.Lovers Leap
Though taken in 1979 you can see that the land mass or island shown in the slide is gone. Where did it go? Erosion from the various draw downs over the years as this man made lake was managed over the years? That's my guess. Anyone who has visited the "leap" will tell you, if you happen to be out some day looking for something to do, check this park out. The restoration, which was completed in 2007 has created a nice parking area, preserved an old iron bridge and created marked trails to explore. You may just see me there, I'll be the one who keeps looking through the View-Master, then peering out, then looking through the View-Master until I'm sure I am standing in the right spot. Or, I may just be looking for the "barney-copter".

1 comment:

  1. Great post, I would of never known that island even existed, what is most amazing is the short time that it took to erode.
    Thanks for sharing.


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