The other day I was idling at a traffic light beside Walgreens. A sign staked in the berm said, One Hour Photo Processing. Could I really get film processed in a local drugstore? It wasn’t true. The store used the back of that old sign to advertise Cokes on sale.
This year we lost Kodak. Not just the cameras and film, but the idea of Kodak. Kodak has been compared to Gillette, a company famous for making cheap razors requiring pricey blades. Yes, Kodak made cameras that needed Kodak film. But those cameras were artfully designed devices that let anyone become a photographer.
The Kodak Brownie, named after the characters of Palmer Cox’s illustrations, was a wonderful camera. My sister took the only childhood snapshot of me at home with her Brownie Target. Although cameras were relatively inexpensive, our family couldn’t afford one for years, and when we did get a camera, it was a big deal to shoot a whole roll of film and then have it developed.
We didn’t take pictures back then like we do now. Nobody took a photo of their plate! We brought the camera out on special occasions–holidays, birthdays. In an episode of Mad Men, when Peggy Olson’s mother says, “Go get the Brownie,” she didn’t mean fetch dessert, but that it was time to record the priest’s visit to their home.
We didn’t have loads of photographs, either. My mother’s album was four flip files that fit into a box. Every time we went home, we would flick through pictures we knew by heart but wanted to see again–awkward poses, poor lighting, barely framed subject, looming photographer’s shadows, and all.
When Kodak filed for Chapter 11 in January of this year, the writing was on the wall. It didn’t seem to matter that this company had defined a century. Now we have digital cameras (and phones!) that can do everything but our taxes.
I too was eager to jump on the digital camera bandwagon. I take pictures of plates and other insignificant things simply because I can. However, I do unload my photos from the camera. While I share pictures via this blog and email, I also print them out. The computer screen is no substitute for an artifact I can hold in my hand.
I’ll miss Kodak for enabling me to freeze special moments in my life, like my high school graduation, our wedding supper. I’ll miss the bright yellow film boxes. I’ll miss the ads. The commercial I remember most featured a baby girl at a door. As Paul Arnold sings “Turn Around,” we see the girl grow up in a series of snapshots.
If you want to view that wonderful commercial, here’s the link. Because I (still) can’t embed a video, the link will break from this post. So watch it and come back to the blog, or read the rest of my post and play the commercial. You will love this leisurely look back.
Where are you going, my little one, little one? Where are you going, my baby, my own?
Turn around and you’re two . . .
Turn around and you’re four . . .
Turn around and you’re a young girl going out of the door.
Where are you going my little one, little one? Little dirdls and petticoats, where have you gone?
Turn around and you’re tiny, turn around and you’re grown.
Turn around and you’re a young wife with babes of your own.
Thanks, Kodak, for the memories. I will tend them like rare orchids.