A slide view into the past.

The other day my dad brought this little rig along.
It is called a "Paterson Design 101" slide viewer.

I must have seen it before in one of my many forays into their basement, but it kind of took me off guard.  It is so simple to use and yet it has a secret world inside, just waiting for me to pick it up.

Along with the slide viewer, he brought along 20 slides of pictures from my time in Hungary almost 20 years ago.

For the next hour, I spent time with the Paterson Design 101, peering into the back lit past. Pictures of new (then) friends who I haven't really seen since, houses, markets, the control room of a power station, and the grandparents of people I met.
I retreated into a world where somehow I ended up in a parade in a town I cannot remember the name of...
...that had a culture house that kept homesickness at bay.  It illuminated a time in my life, a coming into my adult self.

The slide viewer helped me to experience those images in a whole different way than if I had seen them on Facebook or came across the printed versions (although I like both of those formats too).  It was like I was being ushered into a quiet, vivid (almost animated), and personal viewing of my own memories.
As if my own stored memories had been extracted and had a light shone through them.  Reminding me not just of the colour of the grass, but of the smell of the soap and the heat of the sun.

I haven't put pictures onto slides since June 30, 1995.  Maybe I should continue to.  After all, when I am old and gone and my kids want to peer into the past, they'll have plenty of access to the images, but what will those photo viewing experiences be like? Mysterious? Special? A little bit thrilling?  This is especially hard for me to predict, since I couldn't see the iphone or even the internet coming.  However, I hope some technology, vintage or not, exists that pitches a tent in their minds and draws a curtain for them to have as unique a vantage point on the images as the memories that they distill.