What If We Could Go Back in Time and Visit our Loved Ones?

Sunday, May 28, 2017

What if we could go back in time and visit our loved ones?  What if we could see them alive and smiling at us again? Sound too good to be true?  Maybe not!  On this Memorial Day weekend, I got to do just that. You can too!

I'm a firm believer in living life in the moment, savoring. I also believe in preserving for the future. Anyone who knows me knows I'm an avid photographer.  That addiction didn't begin recently; I've taken photos for as long as I can remember of people and places, still life and nature.  I come from a family where photos were taken of special events, family gatherings, family pets, etc...so I'm fortunate to have hundreds of old photos documenting my family's history.  I remember when I was in my late teens and early 20's it was not uncommon to pull out old photo albums after Sunday dinner with extended family and reminisce.  Once in a very great while my mom would set up the old Kodak movie projector and show home movies.  I still remember the sounds of those times......the whirring of the projector fan, the chatter of the film as it went through the reels, and most of all the laughter of family as we watched the old movies.

When our kids were smaller, maybe 4 and 8, we invested in a video camera of our own, one that used the small cartridges, like mini VHS tapes.  We used it for a few years, and then got out of the habit and went back to just taking photos.  For several years now, I've talked about having the tapes converted to DVD's.  I looked into a few places, more than a few times over the years, but never got around to it.  Eventually my video camera stopped working and since that was my only means of playing the tapes, I could no longer view them.  I had 15 altogether, birthday parties, my parent's 50th wedding anniversary, dance recitals, etc...all locked up in these cassettes.  Now that most of my relatives are gone - my dad, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles - those memories were even more important to me.  It seems as we age and approach what people refer to as our 'golden years', the past becomes more important.  The people, the memories attached to them are all a little more treasured, a little more fleeting.  I've always been sentimental, always a family girl but as I've aged I've gotten more so. Those times, those people in my family, some who've been gone many years now, hold a dearer place in my heart and it has become more important to me to introduce them to my kids and grandkids so they will know and appreciate the people who inspired me to be the person I am today.  Photos are certainly useful for this purpose, but home movies, well, they bring people to life.  I was going to bring my past to life!
When someone you love becomes a memory,
the memory becomes a treasure!
I'm sure you, like I, have seen all sorts of advertisements on TV and online for these big companies that send you a box to fill and return where all your media is converted to DVD.  Well, I don't know about you, but I wasn't comfortable shipping my life, my history, through the mail trusting it would arrive safely.  Also, I knew that several of my cassettes were only partially filled with recording. These big-box companies don't watch your tapes, they just record them, beginning to end, resulting in DVD's that are partly blank.  Thankfully, my mom found the perfect guy to bring our history back to life.  She found Ed Deet of Video View Productions in Waterford.  With over 30 years of experience in videography, Ed is skilled in every aspect of the video world.  We made an appointment to meet with Ed and within minutes of conversation, I was confident our final product would be everything I'd hoped it to be.

We'd brought Ed 15 super eight cassettes ranging in date from 1987-2002 and in about a week, we got an email that our job was completed!  Ed transferred all of our movies onto DVD's, divided by chapters (the perfect way to make sense of short pieces of events).  These 15 cassettes were transferred onto 15 DVD's of varying length, labeled by chapter and all together totaling 39 hours of play.  Now, instead of picking up a blank cassette without knowing what is on it, we can choose a DVD from the case, read the label and select exactly the DVD and chapter we want to watch.  And watch we did!  We haven't finished watching every DVD yet but have seen several.  We were so thrilled to be able to see so many loved ones and friends again - laughing, talking, living in these memories that we decided we'd have my mom's old movie reels transferred as well.


So a week later we packed up about 19 reels, large and small, and brought them to Ed to be transferred.  Now these movies were much older.  In fact, almost all of them were from the early 1960's, some faded, others worn from age.  It's been at least 20 or more years since I or anyone had seen any of these movies.  My grandparents have been gone since 1963, 1972, 1977 and 1989. I was so anxious to be able to see them come to life again, if only on the TV screen.  Well, on Friday we picked up our finished product from Ed.....history documented and come to life on a DVD!

Our 19 reels all transferred onto one DVD, again divided by chapters (reels).  On the screen appears a movie clip for each reel (chapter) so I could watch reel by reel selectively or as I did....watch from beginning to end.


Not only did Ed transfer the movies, he restored the color so beautifully one would think the movies were made yesterday.  He also added a very pleasant background music.  And before my eyes, with the touch of the remote, my past became my present.  My grandfather who died when I was 8 was swimming with me in Saratoga Lake.  My dad was sitting in his fishing boat, relaxed, flashing his handsome smirk at the camera, an animated smile I haven't seen since 2008.  Christmases of my childhood were relived, family gathered around picnic tables at our camp on Saratoga Lake, Duke our family beagle all brought back to life on the screen before me.  Then for a brief moment on the screen, a moment originally spliced from my grandmother's cousin's film years ago, was a brief but precious few seconds of my brother, Gary, (pictured at the top of this post) who died before I was born.  Those seconds, the only seconds of film we have of him, were worth the cost of having all 19 reels transferred.  There is no way to adequately describe the sea of emotions I experienced watching these movies.  We can't bring people back, but I can say without a doubt, having these movies is the next best thing.  I watched this DVD three times on Friday and each time, although a bit sad and very melancholy, I was so happy we finally got these movies transferred.
The best gifts in the world are not in
the material things one can buy in a store,
but in the memories we make with the people we love.
    -Amanda Boyarshinov

If you have old movies, get them transferred to DVD.  If you have video clips on your phone...save them to a more permanent medium.  Photographs are a great way to preserve memories, but nothing compares to live action movies.  Your life today is your history tomorrow.  It is your story - the story your descendants will want to see and hear someday.  What better gift could you give than this?  If you have any of these on old mediums......Ed Deet is your guy!  I wouldn't trust my life, my history, my old movies to anyone else.  Ed watches each film as it is reproduced. Your finished product will be clean and smooth, color restored and free of skips and blank spaces.  Presented in a beautiful case, what a great gift to give someone in your family!  Ed is great to work with, very reasonably priced and very prompt with your finished product.  I can't recommend him highly enough.  For all sorts of video projects, check out his website today. We may have to wait for heaven to meet our loved ones again, but in the meantime we can do a little reminiscing today!  Don't wait....do it now!

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One Response to “What If We Could Go Back in Time and Visit our Loved Ones?”

  1. Another great article I enjoyed. Funny thing is I was just looking at my friends old family photos last night. She had scanned some and put them into a shutterfly book. Seems around this time we must all be reflecting and missing our past and loved ones. Thanks Gail for the beautiful pictures and your site to enjoy your stories! Carolynn Carpenter

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