My apologies for yesterday, I was very ill and going to the archives was not an option. Today was a different story. When I woke up, I was feeling much better and I prepared myself to make-up for the day lost. A new set of films awaited me as I entered the office.
To be truthfully honest, I am not exactly back to full health. As a precaution and out of consideration for my supervisors and colleagues, I wore a facemask for the majority of my shift. Usually, these masks are used when dealing with sensitive collections or, in the case of the Fred Rogers and Dr. Francis Martin, Jr. Collection, repugnant odors. As the day progressed, Ms. Rubin and Courtney did ask why I was wearing the mask and I told them that I was trying to prevent my sickness from spreading. Save for an occasional cough, my ailment did not impede me from reviewing more films from the Home Movie Collection.
The films reviewed were donated by Nancy Richter (there is another film donor named Barron Richter, though I am not sure if they are related). While her contributions are not as large as Miriam Rowe’s, they do offer a glimpse into a period not touched by Rowe: the late 1930s through the 1940s! As I watched the footage, my thoughts boggled over how such old films managed to survive long enough to be digitized. By all considerations, the footage looked great! Of course, the state of the actual films might be dubious at this point.
So what contents do these films provide? The doting parent seen in the films and most likely filmed the moments captured centered the majority of its contents around their children, specifically their daughter. The little girl played outside, with her parents, petted the family dogs, and interacted with her siblings. If the cars, toys, and clothing styles did not immediately notify the years (1937-1938 for the first reel), then most of the scenes depicted seem like an easily relatable experience regardless of era. Like the Rowe films, the girl’s age progressed as the reels changed and seeing this child grow fascinated me.
As previously noted, I have a penchant of researching automobiles or objects to help identify the year range of what is depicted in the film. Strangely, I did not research the cars seen in the films. Instead, my interest focused on the toy strollers the parents pushed their toddlers in or the toy wagons played with. Unfortunately, I could not find out the manufacturer or release date for the strollers (even though I find other images across the internet that similar strollers. My luck changed slightly with the wagon as I found pictures of several “Sonny” branded wagons, yet no information about the manufacturer.
The family depicted in the films did go to an event, a horserace specifically. One of my predecessors did do the due diligence and track down the raceway to be in Ohio (the name of the raceway and city escapes me at the moment). This horserace was not the normally depicted races with the jockeys riding horseback, though. Instead, the jockeys rode in sulkies (chariot-like harnesses). Apparently, there was also a “half-time show” of sorts as acrobats and stunt drivers (using their car to burst through a flamming piece of wood) entertained the crowd.
Eventually, my sift ended. I packed up the collection and returned it to the stacks. Afterward, I bid the staff farewell and left for the day. Of course, I threw away the facemask away as I exited.
In review, I wore a facemask as a reviewed a new batch films. Tomorrow, I undoubtedly will transition to another batch of films. Until then, enjoy the rest of the evening and stay safe. Bye!