Dwayne's Photo — started in Parsons, Kan., in 1956 by Dwayne Steinle, now 79, and run primarily by son Grant, 48 — had announced that it planned to stop processing Kodachrome film on Dec. 30.
The 6-foot-tall, 28-foot-long processing machine, which was used to churn out slides and film at 32 feet per minute, was to be be sold for scrap.
But this week, it's still churning out those "nice, bright colors." The stop date has been postponed from the end of 2010 to this week.
News that Dwayne's was dropping this aspect of its business generated not only a worldwide wave of nostalgia, but also what Grant Steinle called "a tsunami of film."
Before the explosion in digital photography, Dwayne's employed 200 people as one of Parsons' biggest businesses. Today it has 60 employees. And Kodachrome's touchstone to the pre-digital past has kept them busier than ever.
When Angie Jennings of Prairie Village learned that Kodachrome was going away — that Kodak would stop making the film in 2009 and that the last Kodachrome processing machine on the globe would shut down at the end of 2010 — she knew what to do.
In September, the 45-year-old art photographer trekked with her mother, 72, up a lush hillside in China's Fujian province. There, visiting the tea fields of a dear friend, she stood on the rise of a winding path. Shrubs rich with the buds of her favorite white tea covered the mountainside.
"That was the point I pulled out my Leica loaded with Kodachrome," Jennings said. "The Kodachrome deserved to be shot in China."But it would be processed in a town in southeast Kansas.
The 1963 Zapruder film of President John F. Kennedy's assassination was shot on it.
So, too, were the portraits of Sir Edmund Hillary on Mount Everest, a famed 1985 National Geographic cover of a beautiful Afghan refugee girl, and probably a generation or two of your family's vacation slides.
"They give us those nice bright colors; they give us the greens of summers," Paul Simon sang, immortalizing the film in his 1973 hit "Kodachrome."
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