By Susan G Mathis
As a child, I used to play with a Brownie that I found in my attic. At the time, I thought many of the old things in the attic were “junk,” but now I see them as treasures and write many of my childhood finds into my stories. In Rachel’s Reunion, a photographer uses the professional Century Camera to take a portrait of Rachel. But he more often uses his trusty Brownie.
George Eastman’s invention of photographic film camera changed the world. By 1900, the company had developed box and folding cameras. The most popular, simple, and inexpensive was the “Brownie” that continued to be sold until the 1960s!
The Brownie was a simple cardboard box camera that had a convex-concave lens and sold for $1 (about $34 today). The roll of film produced two-and-a-half square-inch photographs. It was simple to use, reasonably priced, and Kodak ensured that the film and processing were also within reasonable costs.
The masses loved it!
During the first year of sales, over 150,000 cameras were sold. The following year, Kodak released the No. 2 Brownie that gave larger photographs, a full three-and-a-quarter inch size. The cost of the new and improved camera was two dollars, and it, too, was a success. Between 1901 and 1935, Kodak continued to improve the Brownie with five new models. The Brownies were the first cameras to have a viewfinder, a handle, and use 120 film, and they came in three models—cardboard, aluminum, or a colored-box model.
By the 1930s, Kodak released several unique varieties of the Brownie, including a Boy Scout edition, and by 1940, flash photography made its way into the mainstream with the “Six-20 Flash Brownie.” This state-of-the-art camera used GE bulbs that were automatically synchronized to flash when needed, but the photographer had to carry and change out large, hot, glass bulbs after each flash. By 1957, the Brownie Starflash boasted the first built-in flash.
The Brownie continued to develop and be popular through the ’50s and ’60s. Kodak sold millions of the Brownie 127 because it’s meniscus lens and curved film plane helped bring clarity to the photographs. The Brownie Cresta sported a fixed-focus lens, and the last of Brownie line was produced in South America in 1986. The Brownie II camera used 110 cartridge film for easier access and usage.
But back to my story. In 1905, having your photograph taken was a big deal, and Rachel was honored to be chosen. Unfortunately, the photographer had ulterior motives, and life became complicated…as you’ll soon find out when your read Rachel’s Reunion.
Susan G Mathis is an international award-winning, multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in upstate NY. Susan has been published more than twenty-five times in full-length novels, novellas, and non-fiction books. She has nine in her fiction line including, The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, Christmas Charity, Katelyn’s Choice, Devyn’s Dilemma, Sara’s Surprise, Reagan’s Reward, Colleen’s Confession, Peyton’s Promise, and Rachel’s Reunion. She just finished writing book ten, Mary’s Moment. She is also a published author of two premarital books, two children’s picture books, seven stories in compilation books, and hundreds of published articles. Find out more at www.SusanGMathis.com.