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Souvenir Watch: The 'OBAMA-SCOPE'

The man who made and sold 3,800 periscopes for former President Bill Clinton's inauguration is back -- with the "OBAMA-SCOPE."

California lawyer and former FBI agent Richard Tosaw, 83, has created a 26-inch-long, 8-ounce periscope made of cardboard that uses mirrors to reflect viewable images. It's decorated with a portrait of Barack Obama and past presidents -- including soon-to-be past President George W. Bush.

The OBAMA-SCOPE. (Courtesy Richard Tosaw.)

Currently available for $20 on eBay, Tosaw has made 5,000 -- and numbered each for that "limited edition feel."

Tosaw is known in law enforcement circles for his investigation of legendary skyjacker D.B. Cooper.

But he's also known in periscope circles for the periscope he made for Clinton's inauguration. (That one was plastic instead of cardboard.) All 3,800 of those sold out, Tosaw says, and he hopes for similar success this time.

“People come thousands of miles and spend hundreds of dollars and want to be able to see what they came for,” said Tosaw in a phone interview. “When I saw that Obama is going to be drawing crowds, I thought it would sell well, especially among young people.”

Tosaw. (Courtesy Richard Tosaw.)

The periscope business is just a hobby for the 83-year-old -- he also works at his law office in Modesto, Calif., called the Bureau of Missing Heirs Inc. -- but it's one about which he feels passionately. (The two callings cross-pollinate: A paper company in Modesto creates and sends the cardboard cutouts to the law office, where workers assemble the devices.)

“An old man doesn’t get excited about too many things, but I’m very proud of it,” said Tosaw, who plans to fly to D.C. for the inauguration -- if he can find a hotel, which he said has been difficult.

“If I’m at the parade, I’ll have my periscope,” he said. “You better believe it.”

At a Glance:
Maker: Richard Tosaw, an 83-year-old California lawyer and former FBI agent.
Dimensions: 26 inches long; 4 inches wide at top, 1 ½ inches wide at bottom; 8 ounces.
Cost: $20
Where to buy: Currently selling on eBay, but is expected to be available at street vendors and local gift shops during inauguration week.
Why: “It’ll be very useful to see over the crowd, but also it’s a souvenir from the event,” Tosaw said.
Inauguration Watch Verdict: It looks useful, but will it add more clutter to a viewing space that will already be jam-packed with people? Time will tell.

-- Brittany Levine, washingtonpost.com

By Washington Post Editors  |  November 24, 2008; 9:00 AM ET  | Category:  Souvenirs
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Why is it cardboard? It snows in the winter and it may rain.

I guess anything for a quick buck.

Posted by: rlj1 | November 24, 2008 11:16 AM | Report abuse

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