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Making the Invisible Visible Again: One Great Example

April 2, 2014

We at Priceless Photo Preservation just had to share a story about something that recently transpired at our downtown Ann Arbor office at 122 South Main St, #110C. oldmoviereels

It has to do what we often do at our company: Make the invisible once again visible.

This means for folks without working slide projectors, we can scan slides that they haven’t seen for years. For those without movie projectors, we can let them finally see family movies from 50 years ago or more that they may have never seen. Or even for those who have thrown out their VCR or camcorder, convert a long-forgotten videotape of their now-adult child being born.

Late one afternoon, we got a call from a longtime friend of the business. One of her close relatives had recently died. And in going through that person’s belongings, she had come across two film reels: One 16mm movie that was labeled as being a wedding and an 8mm reel of a relative’s trip to Czechoslovakia, from where her family had emigrated decades ago.

She had no idea that these films existed, let alone had any specific knowledge what they contained. She was wondering whether she could come down to PPP offices later that evening with other family members.

As it turns out, one of those family members was her mother, who was celebrating her 80th birthday that evening. The mother’s sister and her other daughter were also accompanying her.

First, the 16mm film: The projector was threaded and the lights were dimmed. Much to her surprise and delight, the film turned out to be a color movie of the birthday girl’s 1957 wedding at Greenfield Village. As far as she knew, no document of her special day existed beyond the traditional photo album. By the time the film was over, she was nearly in tears.

Next, the 8mm film. And that turned out to be another important moment in family history. It was a snippet from her uncle’s well-known 1958 trip to the family’s ancestral village in Czechoslovakia, the first by the American arm of the family since a grandfather had left decades ago.The four-minute black-and-white movie was a montage of people in the town, some obviously previously unseen relatives who waved and otherwise interacted with the camera. At one point, the longtime friend of the business saw a doll that she identified as the one her uncle brought home to her after the trip. The film concluded with scenes of the uncle and an aunt that all the women recognized.

When the lights went up, all four women were both extremely excited and emotional. The friend’s 80-year-old mother concluded the visit by proclaiming that this was the best birthday present that she could have ever gotten.

It was, indeed, a wonderful moment.

This is what rediscovering the previously invisible past meant to one family.

What will it mean to yours?

Somewhere in your possessions, there may be home movie you’ve never seen, some long-forgotten family slides or an unlabeled videotape.

Aren’t you more than a little curious about them?

If so, bring them down to our offices and we’ll take a look. You never know what you might find.

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