8MM Memories, and a Toast
Liz and I went back to my parents’ house, after dinner. There, I hung out with my sister, Shane, their daughter Jasmine, my cousin Jordan, my cousin Jenny and her daughter Mia.
While we were all hanging out in the living room, I noticed that the portable screen was resting against a nearby wall. Several months ago, I was back home and stumbled across my parents’ old 8MM projector. I was excited because I had discovered all these old film reels; my dad, apparently, was a video buff, and was super into documenting things with a camera.
A few months back, I tried setting up the projector… but discovered that the bulb had burned out. After a few weeks of searching, my dad found a replacement and got a new bulb. But since then, we just never got around to firing the projector up.
Tonight, we did just that. I was trying to get the thing set up, but it was Liz who ultimately got the film threaded and the projector humming. I tried butting in repeatedly, and was being my usual, stubborn self. But after I backed off and let Liz do her thing, she got it going pretty quickly.
We ended up propping the projector onto a nearby piano bench, and set it on top of eight volumes of Encyclopedia Britannica.
A lot of the videos involved me as a baby. The one below has me, as well as my cousin Jenny. At the tail end of the video, that’s my grandparents, on my father’s side.
We got through a few reels before our parents all came back, from my grandma’s. It was very exciting to tell them what we had done, and soon after everyone had pulled up a chair. In the room was me, Liz, my sister Stacey, my brother-in-law Shane, their baby Jasmine, my cousin Jenny and her daughter Mia, my Auntie Becky, my mom and dad, my cousin Jordan, my Auntie Dawn and my Uncle Corky.
There were some incredible surprises in the films we saw. A lot of them had me as a kid. We had part of an Indy 500 parade in downtown Indianapolis (featuring a ton of drivers, celebrities, and even one car where Benji was riding by himself).
Not only did we come across footage of my grandparents’ old place, on the south side of Indianapolis… we found several moments where all four of my grandparents were together: my mom’s parents (from California) who were side by side with my father’s parents.
We found several reels that included my Uncle Jacky, which was especially touching and moving, given the circumstances. A lot of them involved him with me, and I was incredibly moved to see how happy he was, and how much attention he gave to me. I didn’t remember any of it, of course, since I was so young. But it was fantastic to see, nonetheless.
Everytime Uncle Jacky came onto the screen, someone would yell out “Oh look! It’s Jacky!” And you could feel the shift in the room, as though everyone held their breath just a little bit.
After a few reels, we all took a bit of a break. My Uncle Corky wanted to have a toast for my Uncle Jacky… and everyone began to dig through my parents’ cabinets for some kind of alcohol.
I should say here that my parents really don’t have, nor did they ever have, much alcohol around the house. My mom and dad started pulling out old bottles of cognac, bourbon, tiny single serving bottles of vodka and whiskey. My uncle was looking for scotch, but settled for some super old whiskey that was lying around.
I can’t emphasize how silly and strange and wonderful this process was. Alcohol is a rare thing at my parents’ house, and most of the bottles they brought out had to literally be dusted off. We found all manner of strange stuff around the house: some kind of commemorative Sports Illustrated liquor from the 1970’s; a small flask of Jim Beam that was located inside the trunk of a model Rolls Royce car; a bottle of Manischewitz Concord Grape wine that I distinctly remember from when I was a child in elementary school.
All sorts of stuff.
Ultimately, everyone got their own drink in one form or another. I ended up cracking open a bottle of wine, and recorded a brief moment below.
I didn’t feel right taking a lot of pictures today, because it simply didn’t feel appropriate, as much as I wanted to remember the day. Even now, posting this video seems a little intrusive… but this was a special moment, and I don’t want it lost. So I’m putting it on here.
Afterwards, we went back to our seats and watched several more reels. One of these days, I really need to get my hands on everything my dad has, and digitize it all. This just simply has to get done.
More than anything that happened today, I will always look back onto this evening with my family and relatives, watching these movies. I was so very happy that my dad did all this recording, and captured all these moments. Watching these reels with everyone, it felt good and right. It felt as though this was the proper way for us to remember, to celebrate. You could hear an occasionaly sniffle, but for the most part everyone was laughing.
Tonight was a very special night.