The Little Cloud

by Derrick Bostrom


Classroom filmstrips have been a staple of kitch fans since time immemorial (that's about four decades, in Kitsch Years), yet the Web still lacks a truly marvellous repository of the things. (Note: You can go here, but they are mostly films.) Collectors are apparently afraid to let them out of their little plastic tubes for fear they'll crumble in the air. Others would rather compile them onto equally crumbly paper and weigh in on the matter with their own two cents. I found a few promotional items, like this Esther Williams swimming pool endorsement, and some from Ford Motor Corporation. But the only school related material I found relates to the sub-genre of anti-drug propaganda. But I've found little that relates to such all-important topics as personal hygene, public safety, good citizenship and religious instruction.

Thusly, I couldn't resist a box of Sunday school filmstrips during a recent antique store outing. I also couldn't resist scanning a couple of them, adding the included soundtrack records, and combining the whole mess into a couple nifty QuickTimes files -- just the thing for an upload to YouTube. The colors have faded and dust has burned permanently into the images, but the somber message for our little ones is as clear as on the day these filmstrips were manufactured. After weighing the pros and cons of simulating the film-roll experience, I ultimately ruled it out. It would have been too much trouble. (That is to say, I forgot about that built-in transition effect until i was too late.)

Today's lesson is the intriguing story of the little cloud who gave his life to help humanity. Not only is it a terrific primer for helping kids visualize fluffy Casper-like supernatural beings floating overhead affecting our lives, it also introduces children to the concept of self-sacrifice (very important in a society that relies upon a standing military), the value of prayer in an agrarian economy, and the scientific role of cloud sadness in the production of rain.

Note: This strip seems to predate the use of a "beep" for an aural cue. Instead, it uses an organ arpeggio which, since it has six tones instead of one, is six times longer!