The Slide Mystery

I inherited a metal case containing a random assortment of slides. Years ago, I glanced at these slides, picking through them. At the time, I found a shocking image, but I simply replaced it in its slot (#98). Then I placed the metal case with its 150 slots into the back of a four-drawer file cabinet and sort of forgot about it.

More than a week ago, I came across this gray case again. Fifty-six slides still remain inside. This time, I opened the notebook inside the case and found these descriptions (capitalization and spelling intact):
Mount Rush More

Grand Canyon

ARIZ MOUNTAIN FLOWERS

SUPERSTITION MTS ARIZ

PHONIX ARIZ.

ARIZ SCENERY

YELLOW STONE OLD FAITHFUL

YELLOW STONE FORMATION

YELLOWSTONE MORNING GLORY POOL

MORNING GLORY POOL

PRESCOTT SIGN

OUT WEST PICTURES

CHICAG BOY SCOUTS

CHICAGO VFW ON PARADE

MUSEUM OF THE CROSS

W.VA INDIAN SKELTON

CHICAGO BOY SCOUTS

CHICAGO CHURCH’S

CHICAGO LINCOLN PARKCHICAGO PARK FLOWERS

TENN. PICTURES

OLD FAITHFUL

OUT WEST PICTURES

MUSEUM OF THE CROSS

SARSOTA FLORIDA PICTURES

GREAT MASTERPIECE FLORIDA

BLACK HILLS PASSION PLAY FLORIDA

CHICAGO NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM

CHICAGO MUSEUM SCIENCE-INDUSTRY

CHICAGO HISTORICAL SOCIETY

STEPHEN C. FOSTER MUSEUM

CHICAGO ACADEMY OF SCIENCES

CHICAGO CHILDREN ZOO

SQUIRREL LINCOLN PARK

PHONIX ARIZ ZOO

MARY GRACE

PICTURES OF JESUS

CHICAGO HIGH SCHOOL

PACIFIC GARDEN MISSION

CHICAGO TAVERN MAN IN DOORWAY

ROLLING MARURRNIA

SNIFFING GLUE

SHOOTING DOPE

Shooting Dope

MAN IN ALLEY

MEN SLEEPING IN PARKS . . . .

Uh, what? Go back. Go back. Rolling what? Sniffing glue? I picked up slide #95. December 1963, printed right on the slide. The headless portrait of a man squeezing a yellow tube of glue into a paper bag. Slide #96 shows his face. Who is that?

Slide #97 shows a woman. March 1964 stamped into the slide. She’s wearing a white shirt and poking a needle into a reddened elbow. I can’t see her face, just a hair-obscured profile. Three pictures of her “shooting dope” and no clues. Oh, and I just picked up slide #101 and it’s the same woman, different shirt, dated September 1963. I found another slide of her in the slot for “ARIZ SCRENSERY” posing with another young woman on a rock on the edge of an ocean.
Who are these people? I believe the handwriting is my paternal grandfather’s. He died back in 1986. My own dad has been dead since 1989.

And so, I have no idea who is pictured in these slides from the 1960s. They look unfamiliar to me, but obviously my grandfather knew them. But why would he put these slides mixed in with other benign images, vacations and cityscapes and portraits of known relatives?

I have no idea. My grandfather was nearly a stranger himself–he lived in Ohio and I grew up in Washington state. We visited a handful of times, driving across the country in three days and nights. My parents never had enough money for motels, so they’d switch off driving. Once my grandpa and my stepgrandma flew out here for a vacation and we trekked all over Seattle to show them the sites.

When I knew him, my grandpa was an old man, a powerless, harmless gray-haired man who lived in a creaky old house that smelled like old people. He had adventures in his day, judging from this evidence.

I wish I knew more and I’m sorry I know this much.

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The Slide Mystery

11 thoughts on “The Slide Mystery

  1. I wonder if he ever gave “talks” at church or to scouts? Those kinds of images seem like the kinds of things that were used to illustrate “talks.” Back in the day, slides were the most usable form of audio-visual. (In the 60s drug use was very poorly understood by the general public. There would have been a lot of curiosity.)

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  2. There are a couple of photos of me out there somewhere in my wild youth, skinny-dipping somewhere up near Mt. St. Helens several years before it blew. I don’t have them, but I sure wonder what whoever stumbles across them thinks when they go thru the photographer’s files someday and spot them. I’ll be one of those nameless mysteries too, I’m sure.

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  3. I have a bin full of old pictures from my parents house – when I say old I mean from the early 1900’s, not the 60’s cuz that was my childhood and not that long ago! One of them has a picture of my paternal grandfather and two other men. My mother labeled the picture with each person’s name and in parenthesis next to one name is Heroin Addict! Pretty much blew my mind!

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  4. Lisa Burns says:

    finally! the slide story…you are such an evil tease. by the way…my profile picture on myspace…me, standing on a rock in front of superstition mountain in arizona…look like the picture on your slide??

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