View-Master Dud

by Oct 23, 2023Collecting, View-Master

Walk into almost any antique shop and you’ll find a batch of old photos. Torn from a photo album, these photos were once priceless memories of someone’s life. Anita and I often find it sad that these photos and memories were not passed on to the owner’s future generations. But the sad fact is that memories can be very personal to one’s self. All to often families discard the once cherished images. They simply do not share the same sentiments, thus it’s easy to be indifferent.

Personal Viewmaster Reels

We acquired a small collection of “Personal” View-Master Reels a few years ago. Very much like a personal photo album, but seldom found in antique stores. This is sort of like a family photo album. Albeit they are a bit different than the traditional photo album. Each reel captures seven personal moments in the lives of those who owned a View-Master 3-D camera, and accessories.

View-Masters viewers and image reels were a part of our lives as kids of the 1960s. We could see 3-D images of our favorite TV shows and cartoons. We could visualize places from faraway lands. But for most of us in the View-Master era, we couldn’t imagine ourselves ever being on a 3-D image. The home-brewed “Personal View-Master was not as common as the View-Master reels that most of us have some familiarity with.

When Anita and I first saw the collection, we passed on the opportunity to purchase it. We are passive collectors of View-Master reels, occasionally buying a reel or two. Occasionaly, finding a bargin. This collection seemed a bit advanced for our little collection. Over a year later we revisited the small antique shop in San Juan Bautista, Ca. The collection was still for sale. When I started to take a closer look, the store owner throughout a price. It was a price we couldn’t pass up. There are 50+ reels and 3 boxes(18 6eels) of blanks.

Introducing “The View-master Dud”

One person seemed to be in a lot of the photos, it was an older gentleman who seemed to have lived in Lewiston, Idaho circa 1953-54. His home had a view of what looked to be the Snake River. As with many personal photographs, some are not of interest. But some captured life in Lewiston during the 1950’s. He did a good job of documenting the Lewiston Roundup. Images of the Parade, Rodeo, and an after-party. There are pictures of vacations to California. Other pictures of hunting trips and a cabin. But the question was, who was the “View-Master Dud”.

Looking for clues

We had often wondered who this guy was who had taken these images. We had a window into his life but had no idea who he was. And how did these images get from Idaho to California?

One day I decided that I would try to figure out who the man was. Seemed that he deserved a better name than “the View Master Dude.”

I drove around on Google Maps in Street View. I had a pretty good idea of where he lived. But I could not confirm if it was the right house. A lot has changed in 70 years, even in Lewiston.  

Old cars are always a favorite in vintage View-Master images

Sweet Car! Looks like a 1953 Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon

Google Street View. Pretty sure this is the house in the View-Masters, some seventy years later.

Other Images, Maybe there’s a clue

There were some images that seemed familiar to me. Then I realized that they were from Chico, Ca where I had gone to college in the early 1980’s. It was Plaza Park and the Senator Theatre in the background. That didn’t yield much help, it was just a nice trip down my memory lane. But the Chico reel was marked “Bill Tyler’s house”. There was a picture of a young boy in front of a house. Was this a Friend’s or relative’s home?

The Lewiston Round-up 1953

The Lewiston Roundup is an exciting event that has been captivating audiences in North-Central Idaho for over 85 years. It’s been significant event in North-Central Idaho. Captivating audiences with thrilling rodeo performances, showcasing the cowboy spirit, and celebrating the rich heritage of the West. 

The Clue That Solved The Mystery

The one image that really put all the pieces together is the  office image.  Then I saw a reel of an insurance office, and its employees. Standing in the back was “Viewmaster Dude” he was the eldest of the people pictured. Could he be the owner? The agency was M.L. Tyler’s. Hey, we saw “Tyler” earlier in the Chico images. We found a 1953 Lewiston directory and M.L. Tyler lived on the street I had thought was in the pictures, and the red brick house was the same one. I believed that was his home. View-Master Dude had a name, he was M.L. “Mose” Tyler. Owner of M. L. Insurance Agency.

Now I took it a step further. I subscribe to several newspaper achives online. I found the  Lewiston Morning News from the 1950s.


Mose Langdon Tyler

Born: June 9, 1896 Died: December 9, 1957

After seeing Mose’s obituary we now understand the importance of the pictures of the Lewiston Roundup. The event must have meant a lot to him.

From his obituary that appeared in the Lewiston Morning News, December 10, 1957, page 12 :

He served three terms as president of the Roundup, 1938-40, and was chosen by the Rodeo Assn. of America as vice president in 1941. He later served several terms as vice president of the International Rodeo Assn. which succeeded the RAA….Since the inception of the honor, Tyler each year had donated the silver buckle awarded to the Bronc champion at the Lewiston Roundup. An expert horseman, he also rode his beautiful Palomino horse “Tawny” in many Roundup parades.

Lewiston Morning Tribune. Tues. Dec 10, 1957 page 2

A couple of other worthy images from M.L. Tyler