Too many cameras has been a familiar refrain for me these past few years. YouTube reviews and eBay bargains come together to form a perfect storm of accessibility and desire. I buy, I try, I sell. I really love to buy and sell cameras of all varieties, shapes and sizes. But lately I have been drawn to (okay obsessed with) Kodak cameras from the 1950’s. Now the camera snobs and serious collectors will happily tell you that with the exception of the Retina II (and I have one of those on a shelf somewhere) these are not particularly good cameras. Still I love the look and feel of them. I love their nifty brown leather cases. I love what they represent to me - the feeling of the 50’s.
Remember Ozzie and Harriet? If you’re under 55, you probably don’t unless you watched the oldies channels growing up. The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet was a TV sitcom that ran from 1952 to 1966. That was way before the term sitcom even came into common usage. The show featured the Nelson family, Ozzie, Harriet and their sons, David and Ricky.
The show was a fictionalized version of their day to day family life. Like all television families they had their little problems but somehow managed to resolve them before the end of each episode. I really liked Ozzie not so much because he was the star but because he usually wore a cardigan sweater with a tie. So cool. He had a soft voice and a nice smile. I wanted to grow up to be just like Ozzie, wise in a bumbling, self-effacing way.
I also wanted his cameras. Yes, wouldn’t you know, the show was sponsored by Kodak. Ozzie did the advertisements at the end of the show. The audience, studio I presume, was still clapping when the ever calm, cardigan clad Ozzie came out to tell us about the latest and greatest innovations from the world of Kodak. The Signet Series. The Automatic 35. He showed us how easy they were to use and what they cost at our local Kodak dealer. I always figured he got to keep those cameras for free. Every week I watched those ads with great longing. I mean, who wouldn’t want to take 2 inch slides of their vacation and project them large as life to share with family and friends? I think I liked the Kodak promos as much as I did the show itself.
If you’re interested you can find a number of Ozzie’s Kodak ads on YouTube. Here’s a link to one of my personal favorites -
In 1960 when I was 9 the Kodak Automatic 35 cost $89.50! That was way out of reach for our family budget. It was not the kind of thing I could run out and buy for Dad on his birthday. Sigh.
Today on eBay I found one listed for $15.00 or best offer. You see where this is going, don’t you? I can now have the cameras I pined for way back then for pennies on the dollar. At any rate I blame The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet for the large collection of Kodaks on my shelf.
Now what do I do with them other than dust them off periodically and admire them?I’m going to learn to use them and take some photos. First up is the Pony 135 Model C. Stay tuned.