Wednesday, July 23, 2008


I was in the backyard taking a Polaroid of the pool tile when the portrait lens viewfinder attachment for my 195 fell off and sunk to the bottom of the deep end of the pool. My Dad fished it out with the skimmer and after I dried it off, I tried to take a photo of him but couldn't focus at all with the rangefinder. The little glass window on the attachment was totally fogged over with condensation. The 195 can be hard enough to focus in bright light, but here I was in the dim light of twilight with a film of fog over the rangefinder. I took a closer look at the attachment and figured out that there were teeny, tiny screws that held it together and that it could be opened up and really cleaned. My Dad, the lifetime engineer and Mr. Fix It took it upon himself to do the repair and cleaning for me. Now that he's had both his cataracts removed in the last year, I think he can actually see better than me! Once he got the attachment open he told me, "You clean glass with alcohol. I learned that when I worked at a lab at Northrop." I don't really know anything about my Dad's time at Northrop, so I asked him what kind of lab he worked in and he told me that he inspected parts for guided missiles. From as long as I can remember - from early childhood until college graduation - the only company my Dad worked for was Hughes Helicopters (as in Howard Hughes). He was a Quality Control engineer and under his watch there were never any helicopter accidents due to parts failure. Unlike most companies that want to get rid of their older workers, Hughes (then taken over by Boeing) begged my Dad to stay on with the job when he retired at the age of 70. Having worked full-time since he was 18 and with me finally out of college, my Dad had enough of working and retired despite the bonuses dangled before him. Anyway, back to the present - after a few swabs with alcohol and dealing with the tiniest screws known to man - my Dad got the viewfinder attachment clean and clear again, in fact I think it was actually cleaner than when I started. So dropping it in the pool turned out to be a happy accident indeed!

My Dad begins the repair as Lucy The Boxador looks on.

Polaroid 195 shot

The Engineer photos by Lydia Marcus
Photographed July 5, 2008 in Encino, CA

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