Giving hospice care to anachronisms as they fade has always been a hobby. One example would be the Photo Booth technology that barely lived to see the 1980’s.
These machines were found mostly in amusement parks or dime stores. $1 would buy four photos taken in rapid succession. Jim and I frequented the one at G.C. Murphy’s on the corner of Wayne and Calhoun in Fort Wayne. But the booth that got the heaviest traffic from my friends and I was the one at Woolworths by the cable car turntable on Powell Street.
There were one or two seconds between flashes so the model(s) had to act quickly. The secret to a successful session was to assume a fresh pose for each frame. And not to be caught off-guard by the strobe in between. Coordinating a group shot might be done with preplanning, but spontaneity usually reigned once the coin was tendered.
By carbon dating the hair styles in these photos it looks like my last session was around 1981..
What was not completely extinguished from the experience, however, was the desire to photograph one’s self. These feelings laid dormant for a couple of decades. Thankfully, selfie sticks and cellphone camera timers came along to satisfy mans’ craving.
Once on a trip to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk we found another technological deathbed patient that had far outlived its life span: a do it yourself recording booth. It’s the only time I ever saw one. For the outrageous sum of $5 (in coin only, no bills or credit cards) you were given about a minute to lay down a vocal track. Then it took twenty minutes of wondering if you’d been ripped off as you waited for your vinyl to drop.
Following an afternoon of sun, drink and panhandling our friends, Wena and I scrounged up enough coin to head to the studio. We recorded our version of the stirring ballad Come Live With Me from Valley of the Dolls (not to be confused with the Stones more rolicing Live with Me). I took the part of the dude in the wheel chair.
Sadly that pressing has been lost. It may be in the hands of some lucky private collector. Nevertheless, it will live on in the collective memories of our cultural heritage.