The story of Vintage Sacramento

The Vintage Sacramento story begins with the “Sawyers Pana-Vue II” portable slide viewer. Before I graduated to the 3D delights of the View-Master, I spent many childhood moments pressing the button on this magical plastic box, reveling in the chance to illuminate memories frozen on square slides. One by one, I’d put our family slides in and press the button, reliving the visits that I was too young to remember— visiting Uncle Hervey and my mom’s parents in New Hampshire; being buried in the sand by my (2-years older) brother; our home in San Jose with Bogey, the black cat.

This is the shot that got me started! Corner of 26th & I St in midtown. Taken in 1968.

This is the shot that got me started! Corner of 26th & I St in midtown. Taken in 1968.

Neglected for years as I navigated through life after college, I still held onto the Pana-Vue II, tucked safely into a cool cupboard, waiting for another chance to light up my life.

That day came in 2010, after a random garage sale purchase. Still not sure why I bought that reel of old Kodachrome slides, I pulled out the Pana-Vue II and sat down to feast on the frozen moments of a total stranger’s life in the late ’60s. The first few slides were worth a quick chuckle – someone’s favorite aunt, wearing a slightly out of focus smile, or the skinny man posing in front of a favorite rosebush. Then, an oddly familiar shot that made me pause. Nothing special, it was a shot of bright red pickup truck parked on a midtown street, surrounded by fall foliage. I looked at it a few times. Suddenly I made the connection… somewhere between when the shutter captured the scene in 1968, and my random purchase at a Land Park sale in 2010, I shared a memory of this exact spot. For a few years in the early ’90s that spot next to the curb, where the red truck was parked, is where I parked my Civic hatchback, directly in front of the fourplex I lived in!

Needless to say, this discovery sparked my interest in identifying the locations and details of whatever local shots I happened to pick up at yard sales or thrift shops. Since that find, I feel like the Jason Bourne of local vintage slides and photos—in a race to save the rapidly disappearing dusty old slide boxes from being buried in a trash heap, never to be seen again.

While the “keepers” are few and far between, the hunt goes on. Our friends come over for slide show nights. I know, that sounds like old-school torture to 99.9% of you, but we have had many great nights, debating topics such as whether that long-gone barbershop was on 19th or 22nd Street!
Being an avid fan of the Vintage Los Angeles Facebook page, I was inspired to setup my own version, featuring the amateur photos showing our city in an earlier time. With great respect for the original shutterbugs’ eye, I proudly present Vintage Sacramento. Join in the fun on Facebook, Instagram, or on this website.

And if you have some vintage local slides or photos that you’d like to add to the collection, please contact me!

Vintage Sacto on Twitter

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