LOOKING GLASSES FOR OLD TIMERS!

By Norris Chambers

            Many, many years ago the old timers referred to mirrors as looking glasses. Mirrors have been in use as long as we have written history and certainly deserve to be recognized as one of the top gadgets used by the human race.

            Under certain conditions, such as the depth of the water and the color of the bottom, the surface of a pond or creek makes an excellent mirror. Iíve seen dogs get very irritated at the mutt staring at them from beneath the surface. Cats sometimes quarrel with the intruder in a bedroom mirror. A small mirror on the end of a shaft and manipulated by a dentist isnít ordinarily a pleasant experience.

            One of my first experiences with mirrors was at the county fair. I knew about mirrors and what they were used for, but I was not experienced in their use as an entertainment instrument. When I saw the big tent with the sign that proclaimed it THE HOUSE OF MIRRORS I was a little curious. After reading some of the enticing writing I decided to invest a hard-earned dime for a tour of this curious exhibit.

            I paid my dime and entered the tent. A man was standing inside and he told me to enter a small door and that if I got lost and couldnít find my way out to pull a cord that was hanging from the ceiling and stay there until a rescue guide arrived. I didnít think I could get lost in a small tent, but I remembered what he said.

            What I saw inside was unbelievable. There was plenty of light and I could see for what appeared to be miles in every direction and there were dozens of reflections of me as far as I could see. When I walked, the reflections walked. There were many openings from one compartment to another and when I went from one to another the scene changed. There were a few more people in the exhibit and with the reflections it appeared that there were hundreds of us. The farther I traveled in this maze the more confusing it became. There was no way to know where the exit was. I began to see the wisdom of pulling the cord. But I kept going and looking.

            After several minutes of wandering in this confusion I discovered something. By looking up I could see where the mirror wall panels joined the mirrored ceiling. I started following the seams where the walls and ceiling met and was soon able to find an outlet. When I exited from the mirror section a man was sitting at a table with his head missing. The head was resting on a pedestal a few feet from him and it was talking to me.

ďDid you enjoy the tour?Ē it asked.  I told him I did and he pointed to a small exit and told me that was the way out and to be sure and come back. I never came back!

Another mirror miracle I saw at the Worldís Fair in 1933 was a two-headed turtle that actually had only one normal head. On one side of the table you saw a real turtle sitting there enjoying his status as an exhibit actor and on the other side you saw the same turtle with two heads. He didnít blink his eyes often but when he did all four eyes blinked in unison!

I asked him if he had engaged in any rabbit races lately but he refused to answer. I suspected that he might have lost and just didnít want to let it be known. Another spectator wondered if the turtle bit you if you would have two bites. That was a good question and I have never heard it answered intelligently.

Mirrors will reflect sunlight over great distances and for hundreds of years have been used for sending signals.

There was the lady who asked the mirror, ďMirror, mirror on the wall. Who is fairest of them all?Ē  She was greatly disturbed when the mirror didnít name her.  I hope she didnít let her anger lead her to break the mirror because it has been said that if you break a mirror you will have seven years of bad luck.

There is the legend describing how Archimedes, the great Greek mathematician and inventor, arranged an array of mirrors that directed the sunís rays at the Roman ships that were besieging his city and set them aflame. He also devised shields with mirror surfaces that blinded the Roman troops when the sun was reflected into their faces.

Can you have fun with mirrors? I reckon you can have fun with anything if you donít get sidetracked.