If his work is any indication, the mid-century world was full of children lacking even a modicum of imagination. They (or in all honesty, I suppose I should say “we”) could think of nothing more entertaining than waving at the unseen cameraman. Even this was done with a decided lack of joie de vivre, though occasionally we would erupt into some strange joyous jumping, up and down, up and down. I wondered aloud to my (much) older sister about this singular lack of purposeful activity. She recalls that my father was a stickler for action (no standing around in his productions!) and since the movie making was conducted on his timetable, not ours, sometimes action was hard to come by. Oh, there was the occasional bike riding or sledding or ice skating scene, but much of the shooting was done in the evening when my sister and I and whatever friends could be dragged in off the street were ready to hang it up for the day and our creativity was at low ebb.
The movie making was especially trying because these interior shoots involved the interminable setting up of floodlights which hooked onto various chairs placed around the room. The result blinded the performers and created a sauna-like atmosphere not conducive to light-hearted cavorting, which was, I think, what my father was going for.
There are also, of course, the obligatory birthday scenes, in which each cake, no matter the year, appears to have been made by the same six-year-old (my sister), who is seen in an early film “assisting” our long-suffering mother. It’s possible, of course, that my mother actually made some of those cakes herself, but she must have been in a terrible hurry, judging by the results.
Despite the less than flattering view of our early family life, I sent those 8 millimeter films off to a lab that converted them to VHS, which now, of course, is as extinct as tyrannosaurus rex. Luckily, I had the foresight to order also a set of those same movies on mini DV tapes which, with the aid of my Sony videocam (not yet extinct, but close, I suspect), I’m still able to load onto my computer for conversion to DVDs. It sounds simple, but turned out to be more complex than I expected, due to Apple’s machinations in which they updated iMovie, eliminated iDVD from the updated suite, and thereby made research necessary. There’s always, as they say, a work-around if you’re diligent enough to find it.
But to return to the content of aforesaid movies … eventually a brother came along (the result, according to my sister’s calculations, of some hanky-panky on a long family trip to the Rockies one fine summer) so the later films focus largely on this novel addition. Hence, we have our mother holding the baby, my sister pushing him in a carriage, me pushing him in a carriage, our mother pushing him in a carriage … You get the picture. At least it’s action of a sort. And eventually he did advance to a stage where he could catch a football, provided you carefully aimed it into his outstretched arms. Now that’s real action—at least by our standards.
Ahhh, the memories!