Forty years ago my husband and I took a “Fly and Drive” vacation to California. A delayed honeymoon. It was our first trip to the west coast. I had always wanted to see where movies were made and where movie stars lived.
First stop was San Francisco, where we rented a car (which kept breaking down, but that’s another story). For the next week, we traveled down Highway I-5 (if I remember correctly), ending up in Los Angeles.
However, San Francisco, with its steep hills and the Golden Gate Bridge, was extra special.
We rode the cable cars.
Ate at Fisherman’s Wharf.
Thoroughly enjoyed “Beach Blanket Babylon” at Club Fugazi.
Bought multiple souvenir t-shirts.
Snapped this photo!
One of my favorite memories as a child was home movie night.
When my grandparents would visit. And the 8mm movie projector was hauled out with great fanfare and set up in the living room on a card table. The screen slid out of its long narrow tattered cardboard box. Metal supports positioned on the carpeted floor. Screen unrolled and hooked tight.
My family would gather & find seats. Kids usually cross legged on the floor. Waited for my father or grandfather to get the film threaded properly. It seemed there was always an issue. Nothing was automatic. The damn film got stuck. Wait a minute. I’ll have to trim it. Okay here we go.
Finally, the window shades were pulled down. Lights out. The room illuminated only by the projector bulb.
Then magic happened. Flickering images of the “old days” appeared on the screen. My parents in their early twenties. My grandparents mugging for the camera – much too young to be my grandparents…but there they were! My sisters, brother and I as babies. Toddlers. Christmas mornings. Easter baskets. Birthday parties.
My siblings and I…fascinated. Eyes glued to the screen.
The only sound…the humming projector. Interspersed with the whirring and clicking of rewinding and changing each 3 minute long reel. With no audio….
The original silent home movie. 8mm and later – Super 8mm.
I was forever hooked. My mouth hung open in disbelief at the power of this machine to go back in time. Or so it seemed. Even without sound, it was better than television. When I reached high school age, I was honored to be the one who set up home movie night. Learning to thread the film into the projector. Trimming when necessary.
It was perfectly natural to continue this obsession when I became a mom.
First with a super 8mm movie camera. I had to control myself. Three minutes went by fast. Film sent to Kodak for processing wasn’t cheap. In 1983 we added the movie projector – and a screen – to watch the movies of our baby daughter. Six years later, our son. Christmas. Easter. Birthday parties. Watching a storm. Running in the backyard. At the beach….
We eventually graduated to a camcorder. Next a digital movie camera. Then a phone.
I preserved the home movies of my childhood by having them transferred to videotape in the 1990’s. I held my breath until I got them back in the mail from the video conversion company. Which had first spliced the movies onto over a dozen 400 foot reels. Safely returned along with the videotapes. Which we later added music to. And duplicated for my family members.
Decades later, when the tapes began to disintegrate, I digitized them on my computer.
Grateful for more technology to keep memories alive.
I still have the movie reels. The projector. Just in case. Trusting what I can hold in my hand. No offense to thumb drives, platter drives, solid state drives…phones…and clouds everywhere.
Below is a snippet of a (silent) 3 minute movie I took of my daughter, who is narrating what she sees out the open window.
Hurricane Gloria – September 1985.
Transferred from 8mm movie film to videotape to a M4v digital file.
Old technology saved by the new.
When my daughter was 10 months old, we brought her with us to the Christmas Eve service at the local First Congregational Church. In the town we had moved to a few years earlier. She sat on our laps, quietly eating Cheerios, entranced by the other people…the organ music…the choirs…the candlelight. A few months later she was baptized in this same church. We became members and six years later her brother was baptized there as well.
We attended worship services as a family throughout their childhoods. Making friends at Sunday School. Children’s choir. High School Youth Group. Mission trips. Holiday fairs. Christmas pageants. Church dinners. They grew up knowing a church family as well as their own. Who watched them change from toddlers who raced around during coffee hour…to poised young adults speaking from the lectern.
When a new baby is born into a church member’s family, a celebratory rose is placed on the chancel rail in the sanctuary.
Three years ago a rose was displayed…to celebrate the birth of our grandson…
One bright sunny Sunday morning…near the spot…
where his mother was baptized over 30 years before.