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Mystery Solved: Right Year, Wrong Team

June 20, 2014

Well, that didn’t take long.

Thanks to the good folks at UMGOBLUE,com, one of the top news sites and gathering places for Michigan football, we now can identify the Wolverine football film excerpt from nearly 60 years ago that we posted yesterday.

We guessed the year was 1956. We were right.

We guessed the opponent was Army. We were wrong.

You can read the thread here. But we think the uncanny detective work of a poster named Uferfan deserves to be spotlighted. His sleuthing led to the game’s identification as the Sept. 29, 1956 clash between UCLA and Michigan, which the home team won 42-13. Here’s what he had to say.

– The Quarterback (#24) is Jim Van Pelt; who played from 1955-1957. He was the only quarterback to wear this number in the decade. 
– The receiver (#87) is, in fact, Ron Kramer. He played with Van Pelt for two of those seasons: 1955 and 1956; so we’re down to two possible seasons. 
– There were only three games that Michigan played at home in those years where the opposing team wore gold helmets: 1955 against Army, and 1956 against UCLA and Army. 
I’m going to venture a guess to say that the film is against UCLA in 1956. The reasons are as follows: 

Empty end zone seats at Michigan Stadium, 1956

A screenshot from the film: Empty end zone seats at Michigan Stadium, Sept. 29, 1956

– Van Pelt did not throw a pass in either Army game in 1955 or 1956, but he can clearly be seen throwing a pass in this game – here is a link to the box scores for the Michigan games, showing no passes thrown by Van Pelt against Army in either 1955 or 1956): 
– The attendance for the UCLA game was 70,159 and for the Army game was 93,402. The capacity of Michigan Stadium in 1956 was 101,001. If you look at the video at 0:45, the end zone seats are clearly empty (see right). The Army game was only 7,500 short of capacity; while the UCLA game was over 30,000 short of capacity. Given the large amount of empty seats, it is more likely this is the UCLA game. 
– Lastly, Army’s helmets during this time period had black numbers on them. It does not appear that the opposing team helmets had these numbers. UCLA’s numbers were solid gold with no markings. 
All signs point to this footage being of the September 29, 1956 game against UCLA; which Michigan won 42-13.  

Absolutely brilliant is all we can say to you, Uferfan. Well done!

As a reminder, this comes from a privately owned 8mm film we converted for a client, who generously gave us permission to post it on this blog. At Priceless Photo Preservation, we are Ann Arbor archivists wo specialize in converting, restoring and digitizing 8mm, Super 8 and 16mm film for local families who want to bring their history back to life. Stop by with a few film reels that you can watch us convert while you are there!


Michigan Football Mystery: Color 8mm film of Wolverines in action, c. 1956

June 19, 2014

Calling all University of Michigan football fans who bleed maize and blue.

Today, on Throwback Thursday, we have a real treat for you – and a mystery you could potentially help solve.

Recently, we converted a reel of 8mm home movies for an Ann Arbor client that were labeled “1956-1959. “Near the beginning, we discovered a short segment of a University of Michigan football game. Based on the labeling of the reel, we are inclined to believe that this game excerpt is from the 1956 Michigan football season, where the Wolverines (coached by Bennie Oosterbaan) finished with a 7-2 record, second in the Big Ten and No. 7 in the final AP poll.

Based on the gold helmets of the opponent, we  think that the game is the Oct. 13 clash between Michigan and Army, which the home team won 48-14. We were also able to decipher crucial uniform numbers: The quarterback is No. 24 (James Van Pelt?), the running back is No. 41 (Terry Barr?) and – most intriguingly of all – the end is possibly No. 87: All-American Ron Kramer, one of the all-time Wolverine greats.

However, not all the information matches up with the facts so we might need some diehards to a little more digging. For example, although the box score (PDF) lists Van Pelt behind center during that game, the box score does not reflect any pass attempts by him. Yet we see several passes – none of them complete – directed to the player who might be Kramer. So our guess could be completely wrong.

Also, of note: Towards the end, we see the University of Michigan Marching Band in action. Based on their formations and their uniforms, someone might be able to definitively guess the year – and potentially the game itself.

Something completely unrelated to know: The segment spotlights our newest process for converting 8mm and Super 8 films. This conversion, in particular, is outstanding in terms of the level of detail, the color and the complete absence of distracting flickering.  Just compare it to other 1956 conversions on the net like this one and that one.

So do we have any guesses out there?

PPP Brings Another World War II Audio Artifact Back to Life

June 3, 2014

For those who loved the story of the audio “letter” home from World War II soldier Oscar Spaly to his wife Lois, we have another treat for (9)

In the wake of the Sunday May 25 A1 front page feature in the Ann Arbor News, we were visited by several clients with similar records.

Among those records, the one from Clark Duane Roush stands out the most.

Roush was a member of the U.S. Navy from 1942-1945. While serving in the Pacific, he co-piloted a PBM Mariner, a bulky twin-engine seaplane (or “flying boat”) that conducted bombing runs for the 7th Fleet in the Japanese-occupied Philippines.

In July 1945, just before Japan surrendered, Roush was interviewed as part of a Navy radio program called “Voices From the Fleet.” The interview never aired, but Roush received an acetate 78 RPM record of his three-minute conversation.

After the war, Roush moved to Livonia, Michigan, where he worked in advertising and copy writing. He married Martha Jeanne Roush in August 1945. They had three children, all boys. One of his sons, Stephen, kept the record after his father died in December 2005 – and earlier this month, he brought it to us at PPP.

According to Stephen, one of his father’s more exciting missions – which was not mentioned in the interview – involved the PBM having to land off a Japanese-occupied island to try to pick up a downed flight crew. They did rescue the crew. However, one man who spotted the plane landing started to swim out to the seaplane and was attacked by a shark. The man was rescued, yet he lost one of his forearms. The elder Roush would go on to write about the incident in the Spring 1979 issue of Air Progress/Aviation Review magazine.

Here is the original 1945 interview that we digitized and restored, complete with a photograph of the record label and some footage of the PBM Mariner in action.

PPP Restores Local Family’s World War II Recording

May 19, 2014

More than 70 years ago, Oscar Spaly enlisted in the U.S. Army and was sent to boot camp in Mississippi.

Shortly after he arrived at Camp Shelby, his wife Lois received a package in the mail: A 7-inch vinyl LP that contained a message Spaly personally recorded to her.

Oscar’s son. Doug, held on to the record through the years. But neither he nor his other family members had ever been able to hear what Oscar sounded like when he was a young GI.

Until now.

A few months ago,Doug hired Priceless Photo Preservation to digitize the record  so he could finally hear the voice of his young father. During the transfer, we also removed some scratches, boosted the volume of Oscar’s voice and otherwise made it more understandable.

In the one-minute message, the elder Spaly talks about the fresh air in Mississippi, the other soldiers in his unit being “true Americans’ and the fact that he is “in good spirits.”

Housed in a cardboard envelope that says “A Message From Your Man in Service,” the record is a rare example of an initiative established by Pepsi Cola during the War. Pepsi set up recording studios at servicemen centers in New York, San Francisco and Washington DC and sent a mobile recording studio to military bases around the country, according to Bob Stoddard, an authority on Pepsi memorabilia and the author of “The Encyclopedia of Pepsi-Cola Collectibles.”

You can listen to the recording at the Priceless Photo Preservation’s YouTube channel or watch it below.

The record has lots of scratches, gouges and is partly warped. Even so, we were able to capture Mr. Spaly’s voice with surprising clarity. We consider it a privilege to have worked on such an important historical artifact from World War II and help the  family preserve such a valuable part of its history.

A Czechoslovakian immigrant who arrived in the United States in 1922, Oscar Spaly enlisted in the army during the late stages of World War II after finally gaining his citizenship. He served in Europe and eventually retired as a major. He moved to Ann Arbor in 1954,  establishing a real estate company that became known as the Spaly Group. He died in 2008 at the age of 88.

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.

Happy New Year! Catch the latest PPP news here

January 3, 2014

We hope everyone out there in Internet-land is already having a wonderful 2014.

We are ushering in the new year with the latest edition of the Priceless Photo Preservation newsletter, which includes stories about the pressing need to preserve your home videos and our many workshops at area libraries, starting this month.


You can download the PDF  at this link.






PPP, Elderwise Teaming Up To Offer Family Archiving Class

December 13, 2013

If you are intrigued by the booming concept of family archiving and want to know everything about it, we have someelderwise-logo great news.

Next month, as part of the Elderwise senior learning program, Priceless Photo Preservation will be offering a two-part class called “Preserving Your Family Photos, Films, and Other Mementos.”
PPP partners Rob Hoffman and Hanna Primeau will focus on the importance of photographic and multimedia preservation as a means of protecting the historical record, both personal and public.

The first class, taking place on January 7 from 1-3 p.m., titled “What To Do with Your Family Mementos,” will focus on how to properly preserve, store, and digitize family photos, films, slides, videotapes, and other analog memorabilia. We will also discuss proper preservation and storage techniques, how to avoid common mistakes, and how to enhance the memorabilia we already have. This class will be hands on, and participants are encouraged to bring a few personal photos, slides, films, and/or other imaged media.

The second class, on January 14 from 1-3 p.m., “How To Build a Family Archive,” will discuss how to take family archiving to the next level. We will focus on what our national libraries, archives, universities, and museums are doing to digitize collections and make them more widely available to the public. We will examine examples from institutions such as the Smithsonian, the Library of Congress, and the University of Michigan Bentley Historical Library. In conclusion, we will use these examples to show class participants how to build on-line family archives that can share photos, swap stories, and fill genealogical gaps across continents.

Registration is $20, $10 for Elderwise members. All Elderwise classes are held at Cleary University, 3601 Plymouth Road (near the US 23 interchange), in Ann Arbor, Michigan. There is ample free parking adjacent to the Cleary building.

To register, learn more about the class and view other terrific Elderwise courses go to the Elderwise website.