Circular Tourism

Today’s guest post is by Clyde.

“A penny saved is a penny earned” is a frequent litany in the kitchen.

Which would perhaps irritate the three children, except the mother also says it every time she adds another penny to the broken teapot sitting high in a glass-fronted cabinet.
If it is a war-time lead penny, still in common circulation at the time, she says, “A lead penny is still a penny earned.”

The collection of pennies is closely watched until they have 105 of them. The expenditure of that $1.05 is carefully planned by the children, a project they complete in collaboration.

One hundred and five pennies buys three sets of View Master reels. A set can be one, two, or three reels, but a pack of three is preferred. They can be purchased at either drug store or the dime store, which is never called by its real name, The Ben Franklin.

As the pennies mount, which takes a few weeks, they study their options. None has any interest in the cartoons or the other things so obviously aimed at children. They only want historic sites, geographic wonders, or world or national travel sites. When tourism becomes an “industry” in northern Minnesota, reels for Duluth and the North Shore start to appear in the selections, which confuses them. How can the Aerial Lift Bridge or Split Rock Lighthouse, which are so familiar and near, rank with the Eiffel Tower?

Over the years they collect and regularly view London, Paris, Rome, New York City, San Francisco, the Rhine, Yellowstone, The Grand Canyon, the buildings and monuments of Washington D.C., Carlsbad Caverns, Mammoth Cave, Niagara Falls, Dawson City, Plymouth, Mt. Vernon, the time of the mastadons, the Everglades, Angel Falls, the Field Museum, the Louvre, and on and on until they become living-room-braided-rug-world-travelers.
The excitement of planning the next purchase is as great, or maybe greater, than viewing the reels themselves.

The appeal is not only in the magic of the stereoptic effect, but also in how the small black viewer pressed to your eyes shuts out the here-and-now and takes you away for as long as your index finger holds out pulling down the lever to spin the reel.
A penny saved is a travel adventure earned.

If you had a magic View Master, what seven pictures from anytime and place would it show?

76 thoughts on “Circular Tourism”

  1. Morning all. Clyde – what wonderful work this morning!

    This is the kind of thing that I should think about all day before I answer, but it will be nuts at work today, so don’t want to run the risk of not getting back to this. These are not in any particular order:
    1: The day my family brought home Princess the Wonder Dog as a puppy.
    2: The morning I stood at the edge of Haleakala in Maui and watched the sun come up through the clouds of the crater.
    3: The evening I graduated from Metro State – valedictorian after putting myself through school, while working fulltime.
    4: The day I got to ride in an open bi-plane over Africa.
    5: The day I sat with my best friend, Sara, on the floor (behind the registers so we couldn’t be seen) of the tiny B. Dalton in the IDS center, eating cinnamon rolls from Eddingtons.
    6: The day I paid my first rent on my first apartment, bankrolled entirely on my own.
    7: The day that a Chinese woman came walking down the hallway toward me, with the baby in her arms and handed her to me.

    If I can’t get back, I’ll catch up tonight. Can’t wait to see what everybody says!


  2. Clyde- is this a chapter in your book? very nice – thanks!
    don’t know what i’d want for my seven pictures…. they would be of people and animals, not places and probably not be as many as seven. hmmm. will be fun reading today.


      1. just gotta say – this is one of the nicest, most supportive bunch of folks i’ve never met.
        Dale, you’ve worked some magic.
        if i’m not always here it’s only that i can’t think of anything cleaver to say. but i’m reading and enjoying – always. thanks.


      2. barb, if I were to limit myself to contributing to the blog when I have something cleaver to say, I’d be a rare contributor indeed. I just love knowing that there is such a group of like-minded individuals out there and enjoy frolicking with them. Would love to come visit you and your goats some day when I’m in that neck of the woods; your place sounds wonderful.


      3. maybe in the spring, when the kids are on the ground and doing well we’ll have a little par-tay, huh?
        for now, i’m just trying to convince the Girls that they want more children. and T is trying even harder (goat bucks are not subtle creatures – it’s pretty weird here right now and not very calm with T yelling most of the time, running up and down the fenceline with his Johnson waving in the breeze and peeing into his beard and mouth every five minutes. only interesting if you’re another goat or a goat lady who wants to get her Girls bred!) spring is more bucolic 🙂


    1. Thank you, and others, for the nice words. It is from the work in progress, but not a chapter, sort of hard to explain.
      This is with one alteration exactly what we did as children.
      Literally, I would stop when my right index finger got sore.
      Going to be a cold ride this morning. But have to go early before the prairie winds start.
      Circular Tourism is Dale’s title. He has such a knack for titling, clear and intriguing and/or funny thought in few words.


      1. So that sore finger was the 50s equivalent of… oh what’s the affliction the kids get from video gaming so much?…


  3. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    Nice Clyde. This blog has the best writers!

    This one will take me awhile. Gotta pull these early morning thoughts together and 7 pulled together thoughts at 6:45am is unlikely. Like VS and biB it will have people and animals, too.

    Here’s a few for now:

    1. The day my son arrived.
    2. My garden, and especially the Morning Glories in full bloom.
    3. Carol Burnett in the Scarlett O’Hara costume.
    4. A picture of my sibs and I as kids.

    To be continued.


    1. 5. A picture of my Grandpa and I when I was a child
      6. Lake Superior from the Quarry at Steve’s cabin (copied from Linda’s post)
      7. The 2009 picture of my husband, son, and I in front of the Coliseum in Roma.

      *****As my free shot, I would like a picture of tim blogging in the bathtub.


      1. I picture him lying back, foot-high soap suds tinged slightly mauve surrounding him, wearing one of his fedoras, Blackberry to his ear, tall foamy glass of apple jack in his other hand, Chinese butler at hand ready to hand him a warm towel, tray of a variety of olives on one side of the tub, Brie and crackers on the other side. His feet resting on the foot of the tub, his toes being manicured by elegantly dressed 50something French woman.


  4. nice one clyde. the view master was a wonderful accessory. it was very different than everything else. we had a box of cards to put in and would go through them for hours.
    my seven shots would be
    up at detroit lakes with the cousins and the family on a hot july day swimming in the lake in fornt of the cabin.
    sitting at celestine lake in jasper canada painting on a canvas with my volkswagon van by my side
    disney with with the whole fam damily at christmas
    sitting in my hong kong hotel during a hurricane on my first trip to the orient
    going to the national hardwarse show with my dad in chicago at mccormick place
    performing with my rock and roll buddies one more time
    sitting in my bathtub at 7am on the blog with my friends on the trail.
    good brain excersize to start the day clyde. thanks


  5. It occurred to me yesterday that I should have an answer. Obviously I had some time to think, but still:
    • Forest Service airplanes water bombing our burning barn in 1949 (my first vivid memory)
    • Aerial photo of Columbus making landfall in Caribbean (to see where, to settle a long pointless historical debate/mystery)
    • The Stairway up from the trains to main depot room in Ogden Utah in 1956 (to settle a a 54 year silly argument between my sister and me)
    • Elizabeth I taking a bath (not for prurient reasons, to settle a fun myth about whether “she” was a man)
    • DaVinci’s Last Supper before it started to deteriorate, about a month after he finished it
    • Charlie (an old Swede I knew as a child, of whom I have no visual memory) in his garden with Superior in the background and The Apostles in the distance about 1953 or 54
    • Pueblo Bonito at its peak


    1. Clyde, I’m trying to do the math here, and you’ve got me stumped. Settling a 54 year old argument with you sister in 1956, you must have been born before 1902! For whatever reason, I don’t believe you’re THAT old. I must be misunderstanding something, please elucidate.


      1. In 1956 my mother, my sister, and I took a train from Duluth to Oakland CA. We stopped in St. Paul, Omaha, and Ogden. A year later we had a disagreement, not an argument, just a difference of memory about what the stairs were like in that station. Why the stairs are pertinent would take too long to explain. We will periodically bring it up as a joke. She will say in relation to something as a joke “and the stairs in Ogden were . . .”
        So if we had a picture taken in 1956 we could settle the joke we started in 1957. And I would bet a lot that if we had this picture that she would be the one whose memory is correct.
        She once went to the depot a few years ago and either it was gone or closed or she could not see that part. i don’t remember which


  6. Good morning to all,

    Well done, Clyde. Okay, this will be the first seven good ones I can come up with quickly:

    1. Hippy marriage ceremony that was put together by some friends for my wife and I.
    2. Fish fry at a park on a lake with my grandpa and grandma Tjepkema in Northern Wisconsin.
    3. Horseback ride on the old work horse at my grandpa and grandma Thompson’s farm in Southern Wisconsin.
    4. One of the summer family reunions that my Dad organized that included my family and my brother’s family
    5. Asissting in the birth of my first daughter.
    6. Assisting in the birth of my second daughter.
    7. Christmas dinner with parents, children, grandchildren, and Uncle Horace.


  7. This is a day of difficult typing, so I’ll be brief. I’d like a Viewmaster set featuring key moments in the lives of seven past pets of mine:
    1. Timmy (Timothy Grunchen Grooms), the rugged, brawling tomcat who was our cat for 20 years.
    2. Bobo, the comical Saint Bernard who was just too damn big for our house.
    3. Danny, the golden retriever that everybody in town loved because he “was a gentleman.”
    4. Pippen, the vivid personality who was my cat early in my marriage.
    5. Brandy, the springer spaniel who will forever be the dog closest to me.
    6. Spook, the English setter, who was the most honorable and sensitive animal I’ve known.
    7. Katie, also a setter, the sweetest dog I’ll ever know, the dog who helped me survive divorce.


    1. Nice list of pets, Steve. I also have had 7, 3 cats and 4 dogs if I don’t the cat and the dog that were pets when I was a kid.


  8. Morning!

    I never had a view master. My neighbors did but I don’t remember much about it. I think they had the cartoon discs…

    In no particular order:
    1) A picture of Kelly the day we first met.
    2) A favorite Aunt and Uncle laughing.
    3) Our wedding party outside the sanctuary just before the wedding started.
    4) Some random picture of our Son.
    5) Some random picture of our Daughter.
    6) A family reunion picture.
    7) Somehow, a magic picture of the farm as it’s changed through the years with all the various dogs we’ve had– or at least the ones I remember.


  9. For my theme I will choose scenic views of bodies of water from places I have lived or visited. Mostly visited.

    The Saint Croix River from Catfish Point
    San Francisco Bay from Fisherman’s Wharf
    The Pacific Ocean from Torrey Pines
    Puget Sound from Blake Island
    The San Antonio River from the Riverwalk
    Lake Michigan from Grant Park
    Lake Superior from the quarry at Steve’s cabin

    I have a Viewmaster packed away somewhere. I kept all that stuff.


    1. How about places lived. There are considerably more than seven. The top seven are:

      1. Pairie Du Sac, WI where I spent my first 5 years. I started school in Beloit, WI, but wasn’t there very long and I will skip over that place.
      2. Cooper street home in Jackson, MI, grade school and Jr. high years
      3. 9th and 10th grade living in St Clair Shores, MI
      4. Back in Jackson, MI for 11h and 12th grades and Jr. college in a temporary home and a house designed and built by my father. No need to show the temporary house.
      5. A series of student dwellings while attending school at Mich. St. U. in E. Lansing. I could select any one of these.
      6. A series of places in Lafayette and W. Lafyette, Indiana lived in as a student and when first married, the last being the first house we purchased. Several of the places lthat I lived in Indian could be shown. For this series I would show the house we bought and then I could have a second series showing 7 other places I lived in Indiana.
      7. A short stay in a rented farm house in MN, that doesn’t need to be shown, before buying our house in Clarks Grove.


  10. Wonderful blog, Clyde, thank you. I loved watching scenes through a View Master as a kid, and your blog transported me right back to that time and place.

    Funny, when I first realized that the pictures in the magical View Master could be from any time and place, I immediately traveled back in history to some of the great historical figures and events. Then I realized the futility of picking just seven.

    In the end, I’ve settled on some scenes from my own life; mostly small, seemingly insignificant moments that somehow are representative of the memories I value the most.

    1. Fishing with my Dad on a windy day with salty, choppy waves licking our small motor boat.
    2. Picking Lilies of the Valley and Anemones (I can almost smell them) in the woods on a family outing. There’s nothing more beautiful than a Beech Forest in spring.
    3. Having a picnic on the beach with my sister and her kids when they were young.
    4. Hiking in the mountains in Greenland. Delicate wildflowers everywhere.
    5. Camping in the Rocky Mountains with my husband and a pet squirrel.
    6. A Christmas celebration with friends, mostly foreign students, at my house. The feast a pot-luck affair. Everyone has brought a dish without which it would not be a Christmas dinner for them.
    7. Attending a 4th of July concert at Orchestra Hall with Aaron Copland conducting Fanfare for the Common Man.


      1. Sure, Anna, happy to share. Two years in a row back in the 70s, that’s how I celebrated the 4th. No amount of fireworks will ever top that as the perfect way of celebrating the 4th.


    1. No we never named it. It was just a baby. Our dog, Bess, had caught and killed its mother a week or so before our planned camping trip. He was too small to survive on his own, so we took him in. He needed to be fed every few hours for the first several days, so I brought him work with me in a shoe box. By the time we were going camping, he was quite tame but our house and pet sitter didn’t want to take care of him, so we brought him along.

      He was great fun and cased quite the stir everywhere we went. Slept in his shoebox in the tent at night, and during the day spent most of the time perched on my shoulder enjoying the view. He’d run up trees to do his business but would come right back down again. He’d also take naps in the front pocket of my sweatshirt. He loved M & M’s and would have chocolate all over his little paws and face. He was fond of all kinds of people food, even canned spaghetti O’s, which he ate with gusto.

      The only time he freaked out on us was when we stopped for a roadside lunch in some godforsaken hot, arid place in Wyoming with no trees. He hid under the hood of the car and did not want to come back out when we were ready to leave.

      Once back home, he ran up a tree in our yard and that was the end of his life as a domesticated squirrel. At that point he was big enough to take care of himself.


      1. Ah, the memories. I raised a baby squirrel too, Nutsy the squirrel. We fed him oatmeal that we put in a cigarette ash tray, and I remember him kicking out more of it than he ate. But he prospered in spite of our general ignorance.


  11. 1. A back roads jaunt with two friends – we didn’t know where we were going but ended up at a beautiful lake with a few deserted buildings and some paths to explore. A sparkling, magical September day that I will always remember
    2. A Fourth of July when we (the two friends and I) did not go into town to see the fireworks, but instead saw the most vivid, dancing, colorful northern lights I had ever seen.
    3. Freddie, my cat, who was my best friend, but had to be put down after suffering multiple internal injuries from a large, overly-playful dog
    4. Watching the sunrise from the tower at Lima Mountain
    5. Jonvick Creek where I played and explored for one entire summer
    6. Winter wanderings – winter picnics by the lake or along various rivers, walking up the Brule River on the ice, or one of my snowshoe walks in the north woods
    7. A November storm on the shores of Superior with huge waves crashing and the wind blasting me


  12. What fun, Clyde, great idea! For my first 7, I think I’ll do trees:
    1. A tall somethingorother from which our little swings were hung when I was about 5, on the edge of Storm Lake, Iowa… the view while swinging was the cornfield in back of our house.
    2. The mulberry tree on the corner of the lot of our next house, which we raced around on our bikes and climbed up to the “bench” seat.
    3. The Rocky Mountain pine trees (“Smell the pines!”) along the Big Thompson River, on Sundays when my mom would be typing my dad’s papers (going to summer school in Greeley CO) on a picnic table, and we would be sitting on a big rock in the stream with our feet dangling in icy water.
    4. The big tree by the cemetary duck pond where Jennifer and I would study after school.
    5. A little apple tree in our yard in Winona, with those oddly-angled lower limbs so that even a 4-year-old Joel could climb up a way.
    6. A banyan tree out by the San Diego Zoo that just knocked our socks of – had never seen exposed roots like that.
    7. The great big box elder in our back yard (now practically unrecognizable from losing major limbs) that has held a fort, dozens of squirrel nests, and served as a major critter highway for many decades.


      1. Funny. I think “coniferous” sounds like something dangerous, something that would eat you. “Deciduous” sounds like something useless, lying in a lump in the corner. Much too elegant words to waste this way.


  13. I have a View Master too, but I don’t think I have very many reels left.

    I think I have more than seven memorable scenes too. I like the idea of presenting them according to topic. Here are seven hikes:
    1. The Porcupine Mountains Wilderness, UP Michigan, in the fall with a snowstorm starting as we were hiking out.
    2. The Porcupine Mountains Wilderness, UP Michigan, in spring with trillium grandiflorum blooming.
    3. The Superior Hiking Trail near Tofte in the fall during peak color.
    4. Shovel Point before Tettegouche was a state park.
    5. Micmac Lake just after Tettegouche became a state park.
    6. Fossil picking southeast of the Black Hills in South Dakota on a day when it was 105 degrees.
    7. Fossil picking in national forest wilderness in the Absaroka mountain range northeast of Jackson, Wy.

    Here are seven pets:
    1. The day we went to a farm near Lanesboro and brought home our first puppy, Gus. I was eight years old. I was so excited and moved about this puppy that I could not stop crying.
    2. Gus’ daily offering of a dead muskrat on the walk between the kitchen door and the garage out on Cannon Lake.
    3. The birth of our second dog, Pokey’s, litter of ten puppies.
    4. My rescued baby racoon, Rufus, nursing on my T-shirt.
    5. My rescued cat, Mariah, at only four weeks old, screaming bloody murder in the bottom of a box that was made to ship a refrigerator.
    6. My sweet dog, Bailey, looking up at me in the sun in my livingroom.
    7. My dog, Pippin, demanding that I play Tug the Squeaky Chicken with him.

    I might have seven musical memories later.


  14. I can do better than my post above about my pets. Here are some special moments I’d like to have preserved on a Viewmaster. I’m excluding a few that are just too private!

    1. When I was on the track team in high school a bunch of us talked a gullible guy named Malcolm into trying the pole vault. We told him just what he needed to do, only our instructions could only result in a mighty crash. The image I’d like to preserve is when Malcolm was at the top of his vault and it suddenly was clear to him he was about to wipe out in a big crash. For a split second, his face registered a mix of terror and comprehension.

    2. Hunting pheasants in South Dakota on a Sioux reservation, three of us worked hard to get a few birds. One of our hunts ended at the Missouri River, where a stiff breeze was whipping the water into whitecaps. Without saying anything for over an hour, we all just sat there on a huge driftwood log looking at the foaming water and rubbing our dogs.

    3. Once I kissed my college girlfriend with a kiss that started with the beginning of Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings and lasted after it was over. I enthusiastically recommend that to baboons with partners.

    4. One evening at my cabin Molly and I slept in the gazebo. A summer thunderstorm swept over us with a dramatic show of lightning and thunder. We snuggled deep into our sleeping bags while the surf smashed on the quarry rocks and the world around us roared with wind and rain.

    5. After fishing the Brule River at night alone, becoming terrified in the process, I drove back to the fly fishing tackle shop where we lived for two summers. There was a fire dancing in the fieldstone chimney. Five of us sat in a circle downing beers in the dark while fireflies floated dreamily in the grassy fields beyond the shop windows.

    6. My mother over-did Christmas when she and my dad didn’t have much money, but when they began to prosper she really cut loose and made Christmas the most spectacular day in the year. It was a day like no other, defined by very specific smells, sounds and sights. I’d love a Viewmaster shot of the family gathered in the living room while a toddler wobbled about delivering boxed presents from the tree to their intended recipients.

    7. I’d love a Viewmaster photo of my daughter’s birth. I was there, but I saw nothing because I found out at the critical moment that I cry uncontrollably at births.


  15. I think I need one Viewmaster disc with a photo for each of Daughter’s years thus far – though it would be hard to only pick one photo per year (even if it does add up to seven).

    The “assorted” disc would hold:
    1. Fireworks over Lake Superior in the Grand Marais harbor
    2. Husband holding Daughter right after she was born
    3. Best friend and I (and our muddy toes) after wading in Plum Creek
    4. A photo of my brother, my three cousins and I – this one would have to morph through different ages and times
    5. Mom kneading bread dough (this would have to have a multi-sensory option so I could smell the oatmeal and molasses as well as the Scotts Liquid Gold she used to clean wood while the bread was rising – and there would need to be “Live from the Met” playing opera in the background)
    6. Dad playing piano – probably ragtime
    7. A shot of the stage at the Globe Theater during Shakespeare’s time – this would definitely have to be from the perspective of the groundlings

    There are of course many more, but if I’m sticking to seven, those are what come to mind right now. Fun topic Clyde – loved my Viewmaster as a kid! (We had a mix of historic places, cartoons, and one of dinosaurs…I have to admit that the dinos were my fave.)


  16. OK – here are seven musical memories:
    1. Singing in chamber singers and DaCapo Singers in high school.
    2. Singing with the massed choirs at the St. Olaf Christmas concert – trembling in a cold sweat, crying and singing, especially “Beautiful Savior.”
    3. Playing guitar with an older neighbor girl at the lake. She taught me “Mr. Bojangles.”
    4. Playing guitar, and later mandolin, around a bonfire near the Cannon River with a large group of friends who all participated in one way or another.
    5. Being the very first musician to take the stage at the very first Tree Frog Music Festival in Faribault (in the rain, with two people in the audience)!
    6. Performing as one of the Downhome Divas at the Bothy Folk Club in Mankato.
    7. Playing with the Flathead Cats on the Pavilion Stage at Rock Bend Folk Festival.


    1. I think this group is inventing a multi-media magic View Master. Since smell is the sense most associated with memory, we would have to add scents to it as well as sound.
      The Baboon Brain Master.


  17. OT–Things you discover writing a weird book: Why is “living room” not one word “livingroom”? I demand a change. How can “pigsty” be an unhyphenated compound noun but “living room” is two words? I’m going to call Both Merriam and Webster and demand a change.


  18. OK, how about 7 magical bonfires (one of you above touched this off):
    1. Out with my dad while burning leaves about this time of year, maybe 1955 (when you could still burn leaves) – back by the garage.
    2. At some camp while singing – what else – Kum-ba-ya.
    3. Ice skating at “Second Dam” on the Iowa River with my best friend. There was a little bonfire and hot chocolate. Then Jennifer and I would leave the rink and skate up the river as far as we were able.
    4. Homecoming bonfire at Marshalltown High, 1965 or 66, after the night-time parade – burning the other team in effigy.
    5. Backpacking with then boyfriend in Yosemite trip.
    6. Our backyard firepit with my folks and kids, roasting marshmallows.
    7. A few weeks ago same backyard pit, with 3 of Joel’s closest friends telling stories.


    1. This is one of those scents-and-sounds situations. There must be the scent of wood smoke and crackling sounds to accompany the visual.


  19. I want to see my mom’s joy when her sister from North Carolina would arrive for a long awaited visit each July. My dad in his fishing boat on a Canada lake. My children’s father reading to them on his lap when they were lap-sized. Our beagle, Scout, romping through the snowdrifts in the back yard. My kids all home at the same time. (That one counts for 3 since I have 3 kids and because it’s a rarity.)

    Great reading today, everyone. Who woulda thought a view master could draw such poignancy? Nice goin’ Clyde.


  20. Poignancy–a word I’ve been looking for all day. And the whole time it was right there between poiesis (production, formation) and poikilotherm (organism with a variable body temperature).
    If I could only remember where I left things!!


  21. Missed this one as my time has been consumed by my Virtual Occupy of MN. Love the concept though, Clyde. I was a huge View Master fan and possessed boxes of circular slides that took me on many an adventure to far off places. My personal reel would tend to be of slides that would help keep me grounded & connected:
    1. Hubble telescope image to remind me how small I am in the big scheme of things:
    2. A beautiful sunrise to remind me to be thankful for another day:
    Sunrise Over Barcelona
    3. The great redwood trees to honor the majestic nature of our planet:
    4. Magnified grains of sand to remind me not to take anything for granted:

    5. Underwater shot of a little cove I like to snorkel in on St John to remind me to always look closer. Things are not always as they seem on the surface (plus… it’s my happy place):

    6. The birth of my grand daughter as she came into this world in a pool of water… and the look on my daughters face at that moment.
    7. A picture of every single person (here and passed) that I have ever loved or been loved by.
    Now… who has a spare View Master I can borrow?


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