Marian Carcache: Old family films became best gift

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Around 1959, my Daddy bought a Kodak Brownie 8 mm movie camera and a Bell and Howell projector.  A screen came later, but at first we watched our home movies on a white wall — or sometimes a white flat sheet.

As time passed, 8 mm movie cameras became outdated. For decades the reels containing those old movies were stored, not always in the best conditions.

A few weeks ago, my son decided that, regardless of cost, we were going to salvage what we could of the old footage and have it transferred to DVD. And just in time for Father’s Day, we got the call saying our disc was ready.

On Father’s Day this year, we shared film memories of Mama and Daddy, who look like movie stars in their early 30s, and me as a small child. We also were able to spend time again with family, friends, and dogs, many of whom have left us now. My first budgie (of course his name was Pretty Boy) even makes a cameo appearance. The film is dark in some places or a bit grainy in others, but those flaws only make the experience of seeing the past in action more ethereal and sometimes poignant.

There are birthday parties with balloons and small homemade cakes that put to shame the more elaborate parties children have now. The family vacation to Panama City when it was still dotted with pink or aqua cottages is enchanting in a way that a strip of condos can never be.  And the footage of family Christmases; a trip to Rock City; our neighbor Easter, who smoked a pipe and lived to be at least 100; backyard picnics and Easter egg hunts; and a sunrise service at Jernigan Methodist church bring back precious memories.

Daddy did most of the filming, but he makes an occasional appearance too. In one of the most endearing scenes, he is reading the “funny papers” to me. In another, he, my collie, and I are hugging.

So for Daddy’s 89th Father’s Day, we took the best family trip ever. In the twinkling of an eye, we time-traveled back 60 years on a magic carpet called film to a spellbinding place called the past.

Marian Carcache  welcomes 

comments at carcamm@auburn.edu.