Crow's-Feet Chronicles: Counting slides and nodding off
By Cindy Baker Burnett
Jun 4, 2018
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This past week, I uncovered the leavening agent that gave my childhood family cohesiveness and substance. No, wait! It was more like the sedative that put us all to sleep---THE CURRIN FAMILY SLIDES.

Every amateur photographer who returns from a vacation fantasizes about putting his pictures in “some kind of order” and perhaps showing them at the school auditorium some evening for a minimal price at the door. My dad probably entertained thoughts of entering the picture of our dog trying to bite the water coming out of a garden hose in some Kodak competition.

The slides ended up in shoeboxes in the closet next to a bowling ball. They became the Siberia of Vacations Past. There are only a few occasions when slides can be shown to benefit mankind: 

Take 700 of them to a war and within minutes, everyone will disperse and go home. Most countries consider slides inhumane, but they can be used in confrontations where no peaceful solution is feasible.

Slides are effective in isolated areas where kitchen table surgery is sometimes the only option and anesthetic is not available. There have been cases where the patient has only to hear a click and a voice introducing a couple met in a diner and he is out like a light.

Police are just beginning to realize the benefits of a tray of slides to pry confessions out of criminals who proclaim their innocence until force is used. The problem is they confess to anything. One man claimed he was responsible for shooting a Mockingbird---the state bird of Texas.

Sleep labs throughout the country are finding that slides could replace the sleeping pill. For generations, scientists have been desperate to find an effective sleep remedy for insomniacs that is not habit-forming. Slides fill the bill.

Parents are always looking for new ways to get their grown children married and out of the nest. Quite inadvertently one night, a couple showed slides of their trip to Hoover Dam. When they flipped on the lights, their son had gone. This is considered a breakthrough.

It is within the realm of possibility that slides may one day replace nuclear power as a bargaining chip to establish peace between nations. If Iraq has 30,000 slides of Bashar al-Assad trained toward the United States, then the United States would stockpile 50,000 slides of Warren G. Harding. Only a fool would fire off that first slide.

When we returned from our vacation in Acapulco, I could have walked on a crowded bus solid with bodies and announced, “I have 715 slides to show,” and within seconds I would have had my choice of seats on the bus.

In the middle of being mugged, Mama could have said to her assailant, “I have 715 slides to show you when you are finished,” and the assailant would have dropped Mama’s handbag and disappeared faster than she could have said, “Turn off the lights.” Seriously, Daddy could have taken those 715 slides to a war and no one would have shown up.

My parents invited a few friends to the house one evening for dinner. After everyone had eaten, Daddy said, “Speaking of sombreros, we have some really great shots of colorful sombreros that we took on our vacation. Get the light, Arline.” Before Mama could get the switch, one guest said his malaria was returning, his wife feigned false labor (she wasn’t even pregnant), another couple decided to try a trial separation beginning at that moment, and one woman thought she heard her mother calling. (Her mother had been dead for ten years.)

On another occasion, my parents invited the preacher for dinner, figuring he was a man of God and welcomed suffering. But when Daddy mentioned our 715 slides, he confessed he had always been afraid of the dark, especially when the only light was that of a slide projector, and left.

As the slides fell into the slot and the heat of the celluloid cast a smoky glow over the light on the projector, my mama’s eyes would always glaze over. Then, as if she had taken a prescription drug, her jaw sagged, her head eased back into the chair, and she slept . . . the sleep of slides.