While I was packing to head back to Cape next week I kicked a dusty box in the back of the closet. In it was a stack of View-Master reels. I don’t know why the were called reels, but that’s the name that shows up on the official Fisher-Price View-Master website.
I didn’t dig though the box to see if the heavy, Bakelite viewer was in there. I’m disappointed. The viewers are selling for less than $20 on eBay. I guess it can stay hidden for a few more years.
Not only did I have the stereoscopic viewer, which simulated 3-D by having two slides that you looked through at the same time that had been photographed by lenses slightly apart, but I had a View-Master projector, too. It ran on wall power and got so hot you could probably fry an egg on it.
When you were traveling across the country, you had to pick up a bumper sticker and View-Master reel from just about every attraction you stopped at. In later years, View-Master started phasing out the scenics and started producing more cartoon characters and TV stories.
I spent many a happy hour sliding those reels into the viewer, then reaching for the advance lever – click – slunk – new magic pictures. Unless, of course, the holes didn’t engage and you’d have to keep pressing the lever until they did. If you got impatient, you could bend the lever or even break it off. Patience, young man, patience.