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Modern History
by Fred Beshid
Histo-tainer | Retro Vacation Tour | Read All About It

I miss the family slide shows we had when I was a youngster. I have vivid memories of the colorful images on the portable silver screen we’d set up in the living room. Unfortunately, slide photography is now obsolete having been replaced by video cameras and digital photography. Our cherished family slides are now ending up in the trash and thrift stores all in the name of progress. Fortunately, one man has started a crusade to save this part of American history. His name is Charles Phoenix.

Charles Phoenix is a vintage slide collector, pop-culture historian, archivist, and a self-described “histo-tainer.” He uses his vast collection of vintage slides to create unique slide shows and publish pop culture history books. After more than ten years of collecting, his collection has grown to more than 200,000 slides. The collection covers an enormous variety of vintage amateur photography that preserves how Americans lived during mid-century when slide photography was popular. The diverse collection documents the popular trends in transportation, fashion and architecture of the time. Images include pre-statehood Hawaii, Cuba, amusement parks, holiday celebrations, portraits, suburban living, Hollywood and resorts.

His vast collection began as sort of a fluke. “I happened to stumble across a shoebox full of slides in a thrift store. I was intrigued by the label on the box, ‘Trip Across the United States, 1957’ so I held a few up to the light. Each one was like looking into a window directly into the Mid-century Era that I'm so fascinated by. And the color, Kodachrome is so rich and vibrant. I instinctively knew immediately that this was the beginning of a never-ending obsession,“ Charles explained. Inspired by this find he began to frequent estate sales, flea markets and thrift shops specifically searching for vintage slides.

After collecting for a few years he was amazed by the images he had collected and felt compelled to share them. “I wanted to show off my favorite slides to my friends so I started having slide shows in my living room. They were great. I would serve pie and coffee, and everybody had a good time,” Charles recounts. "They were as mesmerized by the beautiful Kodachrome images of the past as I was.”

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