Wednesday, January 31, 2007

In A Nutshell

In a Nutshell

A place set aside to answer 201 autobiographical questions
from a mother for her daughter. This may take awhile...join us if you like.

13. One of my most memorable toys was.

Since I've already written about my rope swing in my Grandmother Hunt's pine tree, I will choose the stereopticon viewer and slides in my Herndon grandparents' hall closet. After trying a number of times to describe this for you, I decided that a picture is indeed worth a thousand words. As you can see, the viewer is held up to the eyes by the handle. The viewer is divided so that each eye looks at one of the two almost identical photographs on the slide. The slide can be moved back and forth until the pictures snap into one, three dimensional image. It was invented in 1838 and was a fairly expensive item in its day. My grandparents had one which had belonged to my great-grandparents, along with a good number of slides. All sorts of views were available, and these were mostly natural wonders and sumptuous rooms.

In my grandparents' house, there was a hall linen closet with a green curtain instead of a door. On a shelf at just my height, they kept toys that I could play with; the ones I remember are the stereopticon, the kaleidoscope, and the coloring books my Aunt Nadine had left behind when she got married. Notice that all of these items were visual things. When we visited, if I was staying indoors, I would go to the closet and choose one of these toys. The viewer and the kaleidoscope were wonderful to sit crosswise in a big, overstuffed green chair and look through. I could do this forever. The wonderful things I could see were enchanting.

When I was in college I found a kaleidoscope coloring book (talk about heaven!) and bought multiple copies of it to color in as many variations as I could think of. Since I couldn't afford any art for the walls, these pictures covered them. In my thirties I mentioned liking kaleidoscopes to a friend and for a few years there people kept giving me fancy ones -- but my soul didn't feel complete until I had one of the cardboard tubes with fragments of colored glass in it that I had played with as a child.

After my grandmother died, my mother and aunts gave me the stereopticon viewer and slides. So now, even though they sit on a mantle instead of in a linen closet, I have my favorite toys around me still. Now, if I could just find a rope swing!


Mary Lou said...

My Aunt in San Diego had one of those. Or rather Uncle Bob did. He had a camera that took the pictures too. And I too would sit by the hour looking at all the pictures he had. He had a wooden chest with little drawers in it that all the slides fit in. There must have been thousands of them. I wonder where they went? Hmmmm. Obviously someone has them.

J said...

I wonder how old that thing is? Pretty cool, if you ask me.

AlwaysQuestion said...

My mom's mother had a stereopticon and I loved that thing! My aunt and her family went through her house after Grandma passed. I hope they had the sense to take care of it.

Ginnie said...

My daughter and husband have a stereoptican that they keep on the ledge of a window. I love to look through it facing the bright light outside...lovely.

Chancy said...

I also loved kaleidoscopes. They are so magical.

kenju said...

My grandparents had a steropticon, and I don't know what happened to it. Kaleidoscopes were one of my favorites as a child, but I always wanted to take them apart to see what was inside....LOL

Ms. Mamma said...

Your blog is such a great gift to your family and to all of us as well.

mkpelland said...

Yes, we recognize those like ourselves, as you said. And so I was drawn to your blog. My grandma had a stereopticon as well and I sat for hours marveling over it when I was little.

I'll keep reading you - please keep collecting this material for your daughter and granddaughter. It's so important. You might, if you never have, investigate oral history - a Google Search should get it for you. You'd be such a great candidate for preserving histories.

Thanks. I write about our generation, too - it's nice to see more and more of us online.

Maryan Pelland said...

I'm looking for an RSS feed...can't find it for your blog. Do you have one enabled?