My first camera: The Polaroid Swinger
As a young grade schooler, I really wanted a camera. Already being an independent type, I was drawn to the Polaroid cameras that produced more-or-less instantaneous photos, as opposed to the Kodak-brand models that required you to take or mail your film to a photo lab to be developed. Unfortunately, the Polaroids also cost a mint, and so I assumed it would never happen.
But in 1965, TV commercials for a new model, the Polaroid Swinger, started airing, with catchy lyrics that hyped its (barely) under $20 price point: [Trivia questions: (1) Who is the leggy brunette featured in the commercial? (2) Who wrote and sang the jingle? Answers below!]
In case you want to sing along:
Hey, meet the swinger
meet the swinger
It’s more than a camera
it’s almost alive
it’s only nineteen dollars
Swing it up (yeah yeah)
it says yes (yeah yeah)
take the shot (yeah yeah)
count it down (yeah yeah)
zip it off
Don’t get me wrong; $19.95 was a lot of money back in that day. But it made it under the line for a Big Gift, and so for Christmas 1965, the Swinger made its way under the tree.
I was ecstatic. I probably took a full roll on Christmas Day alone, all 12 shots. And while I didn’t exactly become a serious photographer, I used it often and at one point had quite a stack of prints. I remember being especially proud when my Uncle Kenny asked me to take his picture so he could use it for his next U.S. government employee I.D. photo!
I also was a perfect example of the emerging power of television advertising. That darn jingle got into my head and stayed there, both before and after I received the camera as a gift.
You can read more about the Polaroid Swinger in this piece recently published on Boston.com, marking the camera’s 50th anniversary.
Trivia question answers: (1) Ali McGraw; (2) Barry Manilow. Yup!