My dad loved to make home movies. He had an 8mm and I think a Super 8 movie camera that I may still have stored in a box somewhere.
There was no sound of course, but it was the way my dad documented Christmas celebrations and family gatherings. We looked forward to the night mom and dad would hang a white sheet on the wall for family movie night. (We eventually got a tripod screen, but for years our screen was a sheet on the wall.)
I have the old Keystone movie projector that belonged to our parents somewhere in storage. I can still remember the sound, and seeing the dust move through the beam of light that projected the film on the screen. My Dad bought a Super 8 version of a Sinbad the Sailor cartoon that he spliced at the front of our home movies. Just like the theater! I was so pleased to find the exact cartoon on YouTube along with the sound of the projector — great memories!
The film could get brittle and would sometimes snap while we were watching. That’s when dad would cuss a little under his breath and load a different reel. Later on, he would take to his splicing machine and splice the ends together with a piece of blank film if I remember correctly. Forever after there would always be a blank spot and a little bump when that section of film went through the projector. Here is a splicing demo although I’m not sure this is the exact splicer dad owned.
In addition to films, we had slides. The projector was old and heavy – it was a blackish grey color and looked and felt like cast iron! It might have been an Argus Brand. This projector was well before the days of carousels or trays that fed slides automatically. Oh, no! Slides went in one by one. It was not unusual for each slide to require focusing by adjusting the length of the lens. We would all egg him on:
Dad, it’s out of focus!
The bulb that provided the light got hot let me tell you! I know a few of our slides had a slight melting accident when left in the projector too long!
I cannot remember the last time I sat down with family and watched home movies. I had some of my dad’s films and slides converted to VHS and unfortunately, I think most of the original films and slides have been lost through the years. Maybe our attention span has gotten too short now. Or maybe watching our aunts, uncles and grandparents as young people while we were children has lost its affinity.
They will always be great memories for me. Another little slice of our history lost to technology.
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