home movies from late 1970s

I haven’t yet posted about the other highlight of my weekend back home in Rayne. On Mazie‘s birthday, a bunch of family came over, and conversation turned for some reason to the family vacations we took in the late 1970s. At the time, my aunts and uncles were starting to pop out babies (I’m an only child, so my first cousins are the closest sibling equivalents I’ve got), and we took a couple summer trips across the south. (I’ve mentioned these trips before, although I got the chronology wrong in the previous post — three of the four trips I described were actually combined in one 1978 jaunt.)
Anyway, someone mentioned that my uncle Alton had taken an old 8mm film camera along on these trips. These films hadn’t been watched in at least 15 years, probably longer. Upon learning of these films, I immediately dispatched a search team to Alton’s attic; they returned with four canisters of film and a non-functioning, dust-encrusted projector.
Another uncle managed to get the projector working (through the careful use of a rubber band, I kid you not — try that with a Pentium), and soon enough I was watching the 1- and 2-year-old versions of Josh, enjoying life at some of the region’s great tourist traps. Some observations:
– My grandmother, as much as I love her, should have been punished at some point for the things she made me wear. There’s a sailor suit I wish could be forever stricken from my permanent record. Alas, Super 8 does not lie.
– I had forgotten that I had a thing against going down playground slides the standard, butt-down way. For some reason, I convinced myself at an early age that going stomach-down was much more fun. Inevitably, this led to tummy-burn.
– All of us cousins (there were four born at this time, with three more to come along in the next few years) were cursed with parents dedicated to the forcing the knee-high-brown-socks-with-shorts look upon us.
– A cabbie named Irving Schaeffer showed us around Washington, D.C. one day. I know this because his name was emblazoned on the side of his cab. I also know that he was very, very nice, because his legend has survived among my aunts and uncles to this day, 24 years later.
– Uncle Alton evidently believed that filming endless miles of interstate highway through rural Alabama was a good way to use his precious Super 8 resources.
– My family had a habit of setting down the camera in front of an important building — say, the Capitol — standing shoulder-to-shoulder in line, then walking slowly toward the camera. In other words, my family invented the opening shot of Reservoir Dogs.
– Speaking of legends that have survived for decades: we tried to go to Graceland in 1978. Family legend has it that we waited in line to enter Elvis’ home, but the sky turned a horrific black and we were chased away in fear of approaching rain. Film evidence, however, clearly refutes that notion: the 1978 Memphis sky is as blue as can be.
– Seeing Roy Acuff’s house and the Country Music Wax Museum were clearly formative events in my family’s life.
– When eating cake, my cousin T-Ron had a habit at age 2 of grabbing some icing, looking at it, and smearing it on his right knee.
I’m hoping to get these reels (and others I haven’t yet seen) transfered to VHS so they can be preserved for posterity (and future T-Ron biographers). If anybody’s got a company to recommend to do the job, let me know.

One thought on “home movies from late 1970s”

  1. “My family had a habit of setting down the camera in front of an important building — say, the Capitol — standing shoulder-to-shoulder in line, then walking slowly toward the camera.”
    That made me laugh. I can picture it…a bunch of 70’s clothes wearing people with no expressions on their faces walking in unison like zombies in front of the Capitol Building.

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