Suddenly, we both come across a black leather suitcase - too small to hold much more than a legal pad, but containing a plain, brown envelope. As we opened it, we found several canisters of 8MM film, as well as open rolls. It was no surprise to either myself or mom - it was tucked away in the back of Dad's closet, and we decided that we should have them transferred to DVD at some future point. It was slightly hard to believe - my father's Polish/Lithuanian upbringing usually did not include the seeming frivolity of recording moments. Even growing up, privacy seemed to be the major coin of currency, eschewing the spotlight in favor of a strong work ethic. But despite that, I decided to take charge and look into the cost of transferring the films.
When I got home, I made a big mistake - I used the Internet as my first source of information. When I could not find what Walgreens would charge, I waded through a plethora of sites which offered no up-front rates, but which promised to deliver. An equal number of sites warned against "film to DVD mills", so in frustration, I turned off my computer, grabbed a small flashlight and magnifying glass, and began examining the films.
I admit, I was looking for blackmail material on my aunt and uncle. (At the very least, I hoped they were not stag films - try explaining that to some clerk. Or even, possibly, that I had either of these missing Doctor Who stories.) What I eventually discovered...was interesting, to say the least. A silent film complete with intertitles, but with no introduction. A film involving animals running around. A documentary entitled "Undersea Life." But the last two - a film with no title directed by James W. Horne (who directed in the early part of the 20th century), and an Abbott & Costello short entitled "Oysters & Muscles") - really started my head spinning.
First, there was a good chance they were not my father's - after all, he tended to watch only war, Western, and gangster movies. Plus, he did not have a projector to show these movies, which were a little too early for him. (The Abbott & Costello short was released in 1948). And then it hit me...
...these, in all likelihood, were my grandfather's films, in a pre-digital attempt to build a library.
And at that point, I felt a little less awkward about being such a pop culture fan. Turns out - it runs in the family.
[POSTSCRIPT: I spoke briefly with Mom - she thought it might be best to get the film duped, and see if there might be a film society/organization that can determine the films' value, if anything. If any of you intrepid readers know of anything, please don't hesitate to e-mail me]