Saturday, July 23, 2011

A trip in the wayback machine

It's hard to believe that just 10 years ago, digital cameras were a novelty. It was not very strange to think of dropping off your film at the drug store for one-hour processing, which then still felt pretty new. I remember the funky little Kodak tollbooth-like sheds scattered about town in the vast parking lots of shopping centers where one may find a grocery store, Handy Dan's and Cloth World. Or maybe in the K-Mart parking lot.

These pictures of me and my Memere and Pepere were taken at the long gone Hawaii Kai theme park in Arlington, Texas. It was right next to Six Flags Over Texas, which is still there. If memory serves, Hawaii Kai was originally called Seven Seas and was near the old Arlington Stadium. Anyway, it was a sort of a Hawaiian-themed proto-Sea-World with dolphin shows and luaus. I remember thinking it was really cool, lush and tropical with pretty hula girls putting flowers around everyone's neck. Looking back, it was sort of the '70s equivalent of a Martin Denny record. But to that six year old me, it was awesome.

These photos are interesting because they were originally taken on slide film. My father had a thing for taking pictures on slides. About 12 years ago, my mom found a bunch of slides and I took them in to have prints made. The images you see above are pictures of those prints taken with my iPhone. So I guess by the time they make it to your eyes, it has gone through 4 generations. Not bad, then, I'd say.


  1. I definitely went to the Seven Seas... I remember the name of the place and I remember the show with the killer whales, plus my mom kept those crappy plastic flower leis in the house for years.... The seventies had a decidedly nautical theme. I remember the Captain's Cargo (which would later house Half Price Books)that was kind of a predecessor to Pier One Imports, except it actually had a small river running through the middle of the store complete with bridges to walk over it... But then again, maybe it was just the fact that the seventies loved the idea of marketing overblown themes in and of themselves.

  2. God, yes, I remember Captain's Cargo. It's weird, though, what you remember as so cool when you were a kid and how growing up just sprays a veneer of taint all over innocent memories. I know I'm not hitting on anything new here, but I think about it a lot now as I watch Oliver. Losing that honest innocence is a blessing and a curse. I think that's one of the best things about being a parent-- it helps to wipe away that veneer of taint and allows a peek into that world where Hawaii Kai was so wonderful and cool, if only for a moment.

    As far as the marketing goes, it seems like it was not as insidious as things are now. More the idea of "build it and they will come" rather than everything being so cynically targeted to specific demographics or watered down to gruel in an attempt to appeal to everyone. Back then, they went all out to create an atmosphere. Where do you find that anymore? Back then, you could pop a couple of Quaaludes and imagine a Hawaiian theme park and hope it would be outlandish enough that people would dig it. Nowadays, everything is so sanitized and shareholders worry whether enough people would dig it to make it profitable to everyone who invested in but has no emotional stake in the product.

    I got Oliver a bike (a Mongoose, of course) this week and I've been teaching him to ride this weekend. It's great fun.