March 8, 2019 – “Mistaken Identity”

Hello, everyone!

One of the aspects of reviewing these films from the Home Movie Collection involves correcting mistakes made by my predecessors. My predecessors either conducted insufficient research when making their notes on the locations the videographer filmed at or made assumptions based on the settings depicted. I remain puzzled for the reason why, though. Just a small detail (or lack thereof) suffices in identifying correctly some of these locations.

When I entered the office, I fully expected to review a new set of films. Of course, the obligatory birthday parties, weddings, and footage that only doting parents films consisted of the majority of the donated materials. Interestingly, one of the weddings happened to be a Jewish wedding (something not seen in the previous films reviewed). Nonetheless, I eagerly awaited to see where this family visited in their journeys.

Once I saw the first landmark the family visited, I immediately recognized one that my family visited during my childhood. Apparently, the family visited the Arlington National Cemetery as they filmed the guard posted at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the entrance of the Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial. The most striking footage came in the form of the Eternal Flame in front of the grave of President John F. Kennedy. The very appearance of the grave indicated that the family visited Arlington sometime between 1963 and 1967. The grave seen in the footage temporarily housed Kennedy’s remains as workers constructed the final version that I remember visiting.

While I enjoyed watching the Arlington footage, the next location completely baffled me. My predecessors noted the family visited St. Augustine, Florida and they filmed noted landmarks such as the Castillo de San Marcos, a statue of Ponce de Leon, and footage of St. Augustine’s marina. Within the span of two years, I visited the city on three separate occasions and I am fairly certain of my ability to recognize some of St. Augustine’s landmarks. As the film rolled on, I felt something off about this “St. Augustine” footage.

Sure, the family visited a fort that looked similar to the Castillo de San Marcos. The architecture appeared recognizable to Floridians who took mandatory field trips to the site as school children. The immediate footage of an unrecognizable tower in this Spanish fort cast doubt that the family indeed visited the sight. These doubts continued as the family filmed the “Ponce de Leon” statue.

While St. Augustine does indeed feature a statue to the explorer, the design of the statue looks completely different from the one seen in the film. I struggled to find the true identity of the building that the statue sits in front of and the results came back empty. Furthermore, the family filmed a building I sincerely did not recognize as part of St. Augustine’s cityscape. I searched through Spanish fort locations in the Caribbean with hopes of positively identifying the place this family visited and I guessed Puerto Rico’s Castillo San Cristóbal bore the closest resemblance to the fort and other features seen in the film.

The misidentification continued as my predecessors labeled the next series as the family visiting the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park. True, the family did visit a zoological park and I did my best to note the animals encountered there. I gave up a couple of times when I failed to identify a certain big cat as either a leopard or a cheetah (the spot patterns of the two species closely resemble each other too much and the animal rested on the ground in a certain angle did not help), differentiate between species of certain primates (I am not an expert and got overwhelmed with the many types seen in the footage), and lacked the expertise to properly identify the different subspecies of brown bears (grizzlies, Kodiaks, etc.). I did note one exhibit that disqualified the zoo as the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park: The Smokey the Bear Exhibit.

From 1950 to 1976, an actual American black bear represented the living embodiment of the National Forest Service mascot. A sign in the film told of Smokey’s story and the videographer also filmed the sign of Smokey’s intended mate, “Goldie.” The fact the family these gave undeniable proof that the place they visited happened to be the National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C. Smokey never resided anywhere else after 1950! I am still astonished over this oversight.

Before my shift ended, I did complete my Friday duty of reshelving the folders and books left on the Shelving Cart. Nothing too difficult. Afterward, I saved my progress, packed the hard drive, and returned all materials to the stacks. As I left, I made sure to bid farewell to the staff.

In review, I corrected some notes left behind by my predecessors and completed my Friday shelving duty. Next week, the University of Central Florida enters Spring Break. While some of my colleagues planned to take the week off, I plan to continue my work during this period. Until then, enjoy the weekend and stay safe! Bye!

Author: 57r3l574d

I am currently a Graduate Student at the University of Central Florida and simultaneously employed by the university library's Special Collections and University Archives as a Other Personnel Service (OPS) Student. Expected to graduate in 2019 with a History MA - Public History Track.

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