As we get older, our minds can become a little foggy, especially when it comes to our childhood memories. There are tidbits and snippets of recollections, but trying to put the pieces together in chronological order can sometimes be difficult. Unfortunately, there’s nobody with whom I can confirm certain stories anymore.
When we moved to Summerset a little over three and a half years ago, we schlepped dozens of boxes from our home in Discovery Bay. They were stored away under that house, and when we got to our new home, we promised ourselves we’d go through the unopened boxes “soon.” For the past two days, while the weather was conducive to staying inside, “Project Pictures” finally began.
There were slides that needed a projector and, lo and behold, we found the old one we’ve had for almost 40 years. Grandpa got it to work ... sort of ... and with a little help and pushing, we were able to see the slides of us when we were on our first mini-cruise with dear friends.
Digging around some more, we found albums filled with pictures — both from our collection and our parents’. Then we hit pay dirt: about two dozen home movies from when our parents were young, including one of my mom at age nine, dancing on the sidewalk with my grandfather and several other relatives! It was exciting and beautiful.
The videos of my in-laws were also extremely sweet, as I watched my husband’s face and heard him call out the names of various relatives and family friends, while his mom danced at several parties. It was fun for me to see him as a child and a teenager, and I realized he still has that same sweet face. We spent hours over the next few days reliving together some of our childhoods — his on the West Coast, and mine on the East.
Some films were transferred onto cassettes by my dad years ago, but he never tossed the original 8 mm reels. I have no idea what is on them or if all of them were transferred, so I decided to look into getting them converted onto a flash drive. A friend mentioned that he’d had pictures done this way, so I asked him for the information. There are several places that will take still pictures, videos, reel-to-reels and other formats of your memories, and convert them to current formats. They can weed out a lot of the unusable footage and edit them to remove parts you can’t see at all. Prices for a project like this can vary a bit, but preserving these memories is priceless.
The price of the transfers is based on the estimated number of photos, feet of film or lengths of your video tapes. Find a place that guarantees they clean, lubricate and recapture your film onto DVD and/or digital formats onto some kind of drive. If you have a box of photos containing black-and-white pictures, many will manually color and exposure-correct your images. The same goes for black-and-white films.
Make sure they let you review your images and delete the scans you don’t want (usually up to 20% of your order), charging you only for the ones you choose to keep. Some companies will upload videos so you can see them online, and then ship them to you after you approve. Some will keep the new productions online for a short period of time (30 days) so you can share with family and friends. They should also keep a copy of your converted film for a few weeks after shipping them to you, in case of any loss.
They might give you quotes by the foot or by how many minutes are on the reel or tape. Slideshows from those picture albums will take a little work on your end to dig through and choose which ones you want to keep and which ones you don’t — if, like me, you find a bunch of faces and have no idea who they are!
There are several online to sort through and see which has the best prices, reviews and timing. I googled “digital movie transfer” and a bunch came up. Now, I have to decide who will be in charge of this precious cargo — including my mom and dad’s wedding, and those videos of my great grandfather, Poppa Joe, smiling at me. One precious tape is of my maternal grandfather at age 92, standing in front of a classroom of children sharing his story of how he came through Ellis Island as a teenager.
The memories poured back as I watched videos of my mom holding me in her arms as an infant. I smiled and recalled a very happy childhood filled with road trips to such magical places like Niagara Falls, Santa’s Village and Pinecrest Bungalow Colony. Even though there was no sound in those films, you could tell that everyone was having a great time, waving, smiling and talking to my dad, who was usually behind his movie camera.
Marla Luckhardt is a Brentwood resident who works with several local senior care and advocacy groups. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.