The afternoons of my preschool era were spent in my bedroom playing with various children’s toys. There was that turntable with its plastic records, a rocking horse, and a Sesame Street playset among many other brightly-colored plastic things. One favorite among these was the Fisher Price Movie Viewer, a plastic rectangle shaped like an old-time movie camera complete with a handle on the bottom and a crank on the side (at least the version I had was shaped like this; there was another version that looked like an old TV with external screen). Long yellow plastic cartridges containing cartoons and other kid-friendly fare could be slapped into this viewer. You then put your eye to the view hole, pointed the other end toward a light source, and turned the crank. Instantly a movie sprang to life just inches away from you. There was no sound, unfortunately; the Movie Viewer wasn’t equipped for that. But there was a fairly good video playing so close to your eyeball that it actually felt like it was inside your head.
The movie I saw most on the Movie Viewer was the Walt Disney classic “Lonesome Ghosts”. I saw this most not just because it is very good but also because it was the only cartridge I had. So that was naturally the one I watched. Over and over again. I watched it forward at regular speed. But I also watched it backward. The Movie Viewer allowed you to crank in reverse, thus reversing the movie, and I did that often, watching in wonder as the action in the movie regressed in mind-bending fashion. I even watched it in fast forward and slow motion and ultra slow motion. The speed of the movie was regulated by the speed with which the crank was turned, so if you turned it faster or slower, the movie got faster or slower. In this way, I watched every single frame of “Lonesome Ghosts” in every way imaginable.
The Fisher Price Movie Viewer really was something to marvel at. It didn’t require batteries and it wasn’t complex, but it put quality, popular movies at a young child’s disposal. It was a primitive kid-version of the VCR, and my preschool afternoons would have been much more boring without it. They would also have had less ghosts.