Saturday, July 25, 2020

Dad in Barcelona, Photos From 1955

Barcelona, Spain, cityscape

On special Saturday nights when I was growing up, Dad would retrieve a heavy green slide projector from the crawl space (our suburban housing development was built over swamp land, so no one had a basement).

He'd lug it upstairs and assemble a viewing screen in the living room. He'd pull the screen down, like a giant window shade, then load a carousel with 35mm slides and attach it to the projector. When he flicked the ON switch, it emitted a loud, constant whir. You could see airborne house dust floating in the funnel of harsh white light between the projector and screen, and every fleck of dust on the lens when the screen was blank.

When the screen wasn't blank, it was magic. It was slide show night.

Dad took hundreds and hundreds of slides, almost all of the family. The four of us (Dad, Mom, my sister and me) all had our favorites. We had many laughs on special Saturday nights, gathered in the living room, as Dad narrated every photo in every carousel.

Or what I thought was every carousel.

Recently, in cleaning out my garage, I found a new stash of Dad's slides -- ones I had never seen before -- from his days traveling the world with the Navy, before he was married.

That's young, blurry Dad in the photo here, channeling a young Hemingway abroad.

So tonight, just another Saturday night in New Jersey, I made a Powerpoint presentation from one set of Dad's slides, a trip to Barcelona.

"Barcelona" is a running joke in my life because several friends have randomly recommended that I visit there over the years. According to the small yellow box of Kodaslide Mounted Color Transparencies, Dad visited there 65 years ago, in 1955.

He wrote descriptions of each slide in meticulous small handwriting, and I voice those captions in the presentation below.

Several photos depict what Dad describes as the Cathedral of the Holy Family, which was then under construction. Of course, he was referring to La Sagrada Familia, the famous church designed by Antoni Gaudi, which has stood unfinished for more than a century... and is still unfinished today.

That tells me all I need to know about Barcelona. I think my friends are right; I should follow in my father's footsteps and visit someday. It sounds enchanting.

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