On the 8mm films

I will try to produce lighter content that 1000-word posts on World War I too, I promise. More of this, for example; this spring my mother had 14 rolls of 8mm film digitalized, filmed by her father, her maternal grandfather and a friend of his between 1935 and 1952.

Not all the films were dated, but some were, and the rest can be inferred. The Standard 8mm format and the first 8mm film camera was released by Kodak in 1932, so 1935 is early on. My great-grandfather was an electrician and ran a successful electrical appliances store, he was something of an early adopter in his day and may have bought it to try it out for the firm. The guy who digitalized these said that they broke his earlier record twice; the oldest films he had digitalized before these were from 1939, two of these were dated 1935 and 1937.

It was incredibly exciting to watch them for the first time. They had been sitting in a bag in the cellar for years and years, and none of the people who had seen it are alive today. My great-grandmother died in 1953, when my mom was seven, and great-grandfather passed only four years later in 1957, so she doesn’t remember very much of them. We hadn’t the faintest idea of what the films would contain or how they would have held up.

So this was surreal, to say the least. The first one, dated 1935, contains footage of my great-grandparents and friends on a bike vacation in Germany, the Netherlands and possibly France or Belgium. This is the Wuppertal Schwebebahn, an electric suspension railway that opened in 1901. It is still in use.

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