Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Packing the Car

About a month ago I mentioned that I was having my family's home movies digitized. They consist of six Super 8 film reels shot by my father between 1966 and 1971 or so, and I wanted to convert them into good quality digital copies. I brought the reels back from Florida when I visited in February, and early last month I took them down to a film lab near Tottenham Court Road and paid to have them converted.

When I dropped them off, my contact at the lab told me it should take about a week to finish the conversion. Well, the weeks dragged by, and just before Dave and I went on Spring Break I called the lab to ask what was happening. I received a bland assurance from the receptionist that they'd be in touch when the films were ready.

Up until Monday, I heard nothing, and frankly I was beginning to get a little freaked out. Had they lost my movies? Were they more likely to get lost, the longer the lab kept them? What was taking so long? I e-mailed a polite inquiry and engaged in gallows humor with Dave about the possible responses: "Who are you again?" "Films? What films?"

But lo and behold, the lab called me yesterday and said the job was done. I didn't waste a second in getting down there and picking everything up. And indeed, I now have digital files of all six film reels and several DVD copies for my family.

I watched some of them last night. A ridiculous amount of the footage is of me as a baby (above). I guess Dad did what many first-time parents do -- he went a little nuts making a record of his first child's first days on the planet. My younger brother is in two of the reels, and most of the adults are incidental players.

The short scene at the top of this post is an exception -- no children at all, just three generations of adults. The time: Christmas, 1966. The place: Outside our newly built house north of Tampa -- the same house my mom sold just a few years ago. The participants: My grandmother, grandfather, great-grandmother, mom and uncle.

It's not an action-packed sequence -- just people wandering back and forth as they packed the car to leave after a holiday visit. My grandmother's "luggage" was a paper bag, typical for her on short stays. Everyone studiously avoided acknowledging the camera, until my great-grandmother, who was in her late 70s, decided to clown around. Such a slice of nostalgia -- and what great old cars!


  1. Besides kidding around your grandmother is chewing a chewing gum. To me she appeared much younger than she was by age at that time.
    I like the mad dog (french bulldog? ) running back and forth behind the fence too.
    Very interesting films. Thank you!

  2. You were - how shall I say this - rather chubby! And the top clip needed the addition of music . Perhaps "Memories" by Whitney Houston.

  3. Oh my goodness! I love you great-grandma! I love Grandmother's luggage!
    And you were just a little bit older than Levon is now in the clip of you.
    What a gift you have created in preserving these films.

  4. The vid of you is hysterical. You were really chowing down in that teething toy. That first clip is a pretty great family record too.

  5. Your great-grandmother is/was a hoot! And what a cute baby, in his little matching outfit. When you look at old photos and movies, it's the "stuff" that fascinates, the old cars, the furniture, the clothes -- it all disappears so completely. But I think that blue car was old even back when the home movie was made.

  6. you haven't changed a bit Steve. maybe a little more coordinated. what struck me about the first film besides the great color of that old car was how slow everyone was walking.

  7. Loved this...my grandmother had the same luggage (Barfield bags) and you were so funny!

  8. Those are such fun! Your great-grandmother is so cute. It looks like she held out for a while but just couldn't do it any longer! You've made me wonder what ever happened to all the films my dad had. Hopefully one of my sisters has them.
    I love those beautiful cars too!

  9. I love this...what treasures. I can see why you were worried the films had been lost by the company you'd entrusted. And, you were an adorable baby. How cool to have video of yourself as a baby. Wonderful!

  10. Was everyone walking slowly because it was slippery or was that the pace then, much slower than now.

  11. What a sweet video of your baby self, Steve! That wobbly stage! Ellen's comment about being more coordinated now cracked me up :)

    And your great-grandma was a live wire, I think :)

    It must be a relief to have finally gotten these back. I'd have been worrying too.

  12. For many people , when they look back at photos they must wonder why certain photos were taken.