This just might look like a normal vintage camera but I found it in my grandparents’ old steamer trunk one day when I was over visiting. My grandmother told me that it had belonged to her brother, Ralph Gray, who passed away years ago. He had been in WWII and received a Purple Heart. He was a well loved man and helped raise my grandmother and take care of her whole family after their father passed. They called him ‘Bubby’ and he still has a very special place in my grandmother’s heart.
I opened the camera box and what was inside was old metal film canisters with film inside, the camera, instruction booklet to the camera and a “Vote for Ralph Gray for County Supervisor” card. My grandma explained to me that he was elected County Supervisor but never ran. Instead, others made him a write-in for county supervisor and he won! The words “write in” is what is crossed out on this card. I was given the okay from my grandma to take these items home to try to see if I could get the film inside developed. Easy, so I thought! The camera is a Spartus “35 F” model 400. It was Manufactured by Herold Manufacturing Co. of Chicago, Ill. and produced form 1947-1956. The body of the camera is Bakelite.
The film is Sears color slide daylight film with K-11 exposure index. I had Angela and Austin help me find a place that would develop this film. I went to multiple photography companies with no success. Unfortunately this film requires K-11 process, a method for Kodachrome films that was replaced in 1962 and the chemicals required haven’t been available in decades. You can read more about Kodachrome films here. We did find one place in the United Kingdom that has developed a technique for processing this type of film. So now my decision is do I send in the film or not? I’m not sure if they have even been exposed. I’m pretty sure one roll was never used but the other one is what I question. How fun would it be to find images on these?
My great uncle died unexpectedly at the age of 52 in 1973 so I never had a chance to meet him. He never had any children of his own so it is very important to me that I keep this camera and his story together in our family. My grandmother told me that we would have really liked one another. I’m sure she is right!