Today’s Weird Thing is this vintage Kodak camera.
I have a love of old things that were once used to create things. It’s why I love my old typewriter and why when I saw this camera on a back shelf in an antique store in a sleepy mountain town, I knew I had to have it.
This is a Kodak Jr. Six-20 Series II camera, made between 1937 and 1940. I literally spent my last $15, a week before payday, to buy it. I was living in a small town in Appalachia at the time, where antique stores full of awesome things were every few miles and probably owned by the same person.
Even though I know few people share my penchant for weird old crap, I love giving carefully picked antiques as gifts. So for Christmas, an old friend became the third person I’ve ever given a vintage camera to as a gift. When my then budding and now professional photographer roommate declared me the “coolest girl in the world” I knew I’d nailed it.
Three people, and I had yet to buy one for myself. But that changed the day I ran to the bus stop as my bus pulled away and I just decided to walk the two miles to work instead, passing my favorite little antique store. I decided to duck in quickly. And there it was just waiting to be bought.
A few days ago, I bought two rolls of film for the camera, and though I have no earthly idea how to use it, I’m taking it to Europe with me as part of a little experiment in time travel. How do I decide what to document if I can only photograph 16 things on two rolls of film?
It’s that time of the week again! Weird Stuff Wednesday, the day when I bring you a weird thing from my ever growing my collection of weird things.
Today’s Weird Thing is this little angel statue.
This little lady didn’t come from anywhere exciting. Originally, she probably started out in a factory in China, but when I came to know her she was from the dollar store in the mall near my house. She was a gift from my Girl Scout Leader, who I still keep in touch with, is now a grandmother, and whose birthday is today. It was given to me around a campfire for being so well behaved at our Scout meetings.
Since then, I’ve held her dear as a tiny good luck charm. Though I’m not a particularly religious person, I’ve always found a little bit of comfort in having an angel right beside me. She’s always been on my bedside table, and I often will wrap her in cellophane and put her in my suitcase for good luck. Just in case. Her wing broke during the move to my new apartment two years ago and I was heartbroken, though the little angel is finally starting to show her age.
Good luck charms are sort of silly, but everyone’s got one. What do you take traveling?
In the times I am not traveling, I like to be surrounded by things that remind me of interesting places, times, and memories. In other words, I like stuff. I like weird stuff. And since weird and Wednesday have a nice sound, I bring to you Weird Stuff Wednesdays, where I will be presenting you with one weird thing from my collection, and the story that goes with it.
Today’s weird thing is this piece of coral from Grand Cayman.
When you grow up in North Carolina, you know what a beach is. From the time you are young, you are ingrained with the belief that our beaches are the best beaches in the world, and anyone who disagrees better be prepared for a fight. Our waves are big enough to be fun, but not too big to be scary. Our people are friendly, the seafood is fresh, and after the tide goes out you walk on the beach collecting conch shells to put in a basket on your coffee table.
Then there’s this Other Kind of Beach in the Caribbean that people talk about, where the water is flat and clear. For whatever reason, people seem to this this is better. I’ve always thought they were wrong.
But then I met Grand Cayman, easily the happiest place I’ve ever been. The ocean is crystal clear, and it turns out knowing what’s swimming at your feet is actually more appealing. The people are even more friendly then those in North Carolina (is that even possible?). Because it’s an island in the Gulf of Mexico, there’s no tide or waves to chart for when to beware the smell of low tide or the best time to fish or collect shells. There’s just calm, always, on the ocean like a sheet of glass.
My friends had paid a striking Argentinian woman with bright blue eyes to take them to see some stingrays. At the end of my budget and craving a day to just float, I opted to stay at the beach alone. I was told not to touch the coral reef with my feet, and in my lime green snorkel mask - the mark of an American tourist if there ever was one - I dove down expecting bright colors and lively sea creatures. I got some slimy brown coral and ugly brown minnowesque fish.
They’d arranged for the Argentinean woman to pick me back up at the beach a few hours later. Lacking a watch or any sense of time, I headed back up to a purple and yellow picnic shelter to put my dress back on, do some yoga, and catch up on some reading. There, under the shelter, was this piece of coral just waiting for me to take it home. Here were my waves and my low tide conch shell.
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