My own personal experience of the View-Master was the cheep, red, plastic effort from the early 70’s. I’m sure that most of you would remember that model too. And for those that don’t (come on, there can’t be that many of you) the View-Master was a ‘stereo-scopic slide viewer’. The slides came on disks which were loaded into a slot located in the top of the viewer; each disk having ten pairs of images which gave a 3D effect when viewed through the binocularesqe device. To be honest, I can’t remember which slides I had, which is odd because the memory of the actual viewer is a vivid one. Then again, perhaps my memory is deficient and it actually belonged to my brother, the viewer being one of his treasured possessions that I could only covet from afar. Either way, the View-Master was a classic; an iconic, low tech, must have item for any child of the seventies. Not knowing any children of the nineties or the noughties I can’t say if its popularity persists, but I suspect it does.
So perhaps I didn’t actually own a View-Master after all.
A week or so ago, H and I were visiting her mum, Sheila. After a while, as it does with folks of a certain age, the conversation turned to nostalgia. We’d been discussing a cabinet, a short, glass fronted late fifties style piece, that H and I had bought the week before. It had been a £5.00 bargain from the local Y.M.C.A. We talked about finding appropriate objects to put in it and asked Sheila if she had any ideas. I don’t think she could really grasp our enthusiasm for Mid-Century ephemera even though she was impressed with our frugalness. After a bit of ‘when I was a girl’ and ‘we’d have used that for fire wood’ H’s mum left her favourite spot on the sofa to, we thought, replenish the cake and biscuit supply.
What she returned with was a ‘Model C’ View-Master circa 1950.
According to H, my face lit up like a kid on Christmas morning. Sheila explained that it had been a present from some uncle or other. For reasons that even she could not fathom, she had kept it ever since, still in its box, complete with instruction pamphlet and eight or nine slide discs. I didn’t join in much of the conversation for the rest of the afternoon as my attention had been grabbed buy this bakelite wonder.
As is customary when ever we visit H’s mum, a battered tin containing what remained of the cakes was Sheila’s parting gift. It wasn’t until later, on opening the tin to have ‘just one more’ that I found the View-Master in it’s box, safely wrapped in kitchen paper, nestled among the baked goods.
So it’s probably true that I didn’t actually own that red, plastic View-Master back in the seventies. But I do own an original, sixty year old Mode-C right now.