The "Ugly Cameras" discussion reminded me of something from way back in the hazy reaches of early memory.
My first camera when I was young was a Kodak Instamatic 104, which I still have. I used it on my 7th grade trip to Washington, D.C., and I recall using profligate amounts of film at the Gettysburg Battlefield Park (I was a Civil War buff as a kid—at one point I had memorized all the names of all the generals, North and South). But I believe that even before that, possibly from before I was born, my father owned an Argus C3.
He also owned a Zeiss Contaflex B, and that one I remember vividly. I loved it—I loved its solid construction, its shutter sound (a crisp, clean, quiet, well-oiled snick), and the "clear" pictures it made (compared to my Instamatic, anyway)—although I used it solely to take pictures as references for paintings and drawings. I managed to get "our" Zeiss stolen—I worked at Kentucky Friend Chicken the summer I was 14, and while opening the store one morning I left the camera sitting on the electrical box outside, where I had put it momentarily while I unlocked the door. I brought my bike indoors but I forgot about the camera. When I remembered it much later, it was gone. I still have regular anxiety dreams about losing cameras, although that was the only one I've ever lost. My father (generously, under the circumstances) bought me a very nice Konica T3 for my 16th birthday, with which I shot my first public "show"—hung in the lunchroom of the prep school I attended.
Zeiss Contaflex Super B. Photo from J. Vaughan Collectors' Cameras page.
Rather a long way to go to make a minor point, but the thing I'm remembering is that the Argus held zero appeal to me as a boy. It felt awkward and foreign to hold, it was hard to work its controls, it had a tiny, obscure viewfinder, and I remember having no interest in finding out what kind of pictures it took. I was not curious to use it and it inspired no possessiveness in me. Quite the opposite of "my" beloved Zeiss.
As I recall, my father didn't much like the Argus either, although I could be wrong about that.
I wonder if I would have gotten into photography in quite the same way I did, or as soon, if the Argus had been my father's only camera? I think probably not—that Zeiss had a strong appeal to me. It made me want to use it—a feeling that I can still conjure today, as I reminisce.
(P.S. In retrospect, it seems odd that the management would entrust a 14-year-old with the responsibility of opening a retail store in the morning, even if it was only a KFC stand.)