Dad’s home movies, so dopey, so great

Was talking to my old college buddy, Neil, the other day.  I went on and on about the incredible level of technology available today….

“Neil, in 1958, my Dad would take home movies on the beach, mail the film off to the Kodak developer, and get them back in a couple of weeks.”

Went on to say that we could now take gorgeous video on the same beach today with our phone and load it up on Youtube within a few minutes  for the whole world to see.

Shortly thereafter, I hung up.

And I started thinking.

When Dad picked up the mail and the film arrived, he made a big deal about it.

And we all were incredibly psyched to see it.  Just couldn’t wait.  Dad would tell me to set up the projector and screen after dinner in the living room, and believe me, no one arrived fashionably late.

When I turned 14, Dad taught me how to thread the projector, and I had it ready to roll in plenty of time for the show.  Also had to set up the screen, which was coated with all sorts of white sparkly stuff. And the Bell and Howell projector, so noisy!

Now here is what we viewed that  was different than the year before-

Nothing.

 Baby brother  and me playing in the waves.  big brother and Dad playing horseshoes. Mom and Aunt Helen in white bathing caps waving away the camera as they were sunbathing/checking the kids in the water, and Uncle Walt and Dad doing this stupid beach stunt where Uncle Walt’s head would be atop Dad’s body.  And everyone puffing away on cigarettes!  (Not captured on film, along with smell of cigarettes, was the smell of Noxzema, which was useless, and the rubbery smell of inflatable water toys).

Funny thing about those old 8 millimeter films- in the bright light of daytime the color was often washed out, but in the late of day the colors could actually be quite stunning.

We loved every minute of it, and often asked for a second showing, as well as showings of older films from previous years.  Terror occurred when the film would get jammed and start to melt, forever to go the way of the missing 18 minute Nixon tape.

But with all the joy came sadness.  At a relatively young age, Aunt Helen died of cancer.  And after she did, my mother never watched the home movies again.  She could not stand to see her beloved sister on the screen.

My brother inherited the case of films after Mom passed away….and last year he passed away, so the status of the films is unclear.  Seeing as how film has a relatively short half life, not sure what would be left in the box.

I guess there are services that can copy old films into digital format…..I need to check it out. Then I will make you watch all of them.

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