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180508 May 8, 2018


 
 

LHS 64 senion picnic



Looking Back in History
Tommy Towery
LHS '64

(Editor's Note: This is taken from my book "When Our Hearts Were Young  (Today - Fifty Years Ago)" a reflection of what happened on this date in 1964 as recorded in my Journal (in italics) and the reflection upon that entry 50 years later.) 

Friday, May 8, 1964
129th Day - 237 days to follow
Clear

Got up at 7:30 A.M.  David, Bob, and Steve N. picked me up at 8:10 A.M. and we went out to Guntersville Lake and went swimming.  There were a lot of kids from Lee there.  We left at 1:00 P.M.  I came home with Paul - he skipped school today.  We went to Miracle City and I got some film for my movie camera; I came home and packed for the Westminster retreat we're having at Anderson Creek tonight and tomorrow.
At 2:00 P.M. I went down to Big Spring Park to our Senior Picnic.  We played softball, volleyball, football, and tennis.  We ate and then played around some more.  Some of the boys brought their musical instruments and played some songs to dance to; but William and Susie M. showed up just when they started.  Susie drove us over to the camp.  We got there about 8:00 P.M.
We divided up into discussion groups - our whole Presbytery was there.  The subject of the camp was "Science and God."  For recreation the "Generals Three" sang.  Then we went to bed around 12:00 P.M.

    Once again I delved into the art of film making with my 8mm camera, three minutes at a time and no tripod. As noted, sometimes the cost of developing the film cost more than the raw film itself. This was again done on the $10 Kodak Brownie camera I purchased at a pawnshop. I do not recall why I decided I needed a movie camera in my life, but unlike some of the major Hollywood producers today, I never carried the art form to the next level past 8mm. 

    This day in 1964 gave me two reasons to buy fresh rolls of movie film, the Lee High School Class of ’64 was holding their senior picnic and the Central Presbyterian Westminster Fellowship was going on a retreat. Of the two events, the only movie I took which seems to have survived the flooded Texas garage was the one of my classmates at the senior picnic at Big Springs Park. I walked around taking panning shots of the different activities and in retrospect see I panned way too fast for the small format of the film. I knew I only had three minutes of film to capture the whole story of the day, so I shot in short bursts and panned rapidly, trying to capture as many faces of my classmates as possible in the short amount of time allocated. Now when I view the movie I made then there are probably only about a dozen faces I can recognize from the multitude of people I pointed the camera toward. By filming in the three to five second bursts of Kodak moments, the unfortunate results were people disappearing from the screen before the eye can recognize what is showing.

    I know all these things about the movie I shot back then because today I posted a link on the internet social media Facebook to the movie I previously stored on the Youtube site. As noted, the film was damaged when it was placed in a cardboard box and stored in the dirt floored garage of the first house we ever owned, a small place in Fort Worth, Texas. One day a strong rain came and the ensuing flash flood backed the water up in the garage and soaked all the boxes stored there. Many of the small collection of movie reels of my previous life were damaged beyond recovery, but the roll taken at the senior picnic came out without much damage to the emulsion. Age became the real demon of the process and many of the little holes in the side of the film were damaged to where they would slip on the sprockets of the projector, resulting in the film jumping and skipping many frames. The film was shot in 1964, was damaged in 1973, and in 1982 I had it transferred to VHS video tape in an effort to preserve it before the celluloid completely deteriorated.  Finally around 2005 I converted the VHS tape to DVD, in a digital format which should now keep it from becoming completely lost. Once it was in digital format, I was able to upload it to the video storage site on the internet and finally remove any physical media and any chance of it suffering from another conversion.

    Today, on Facebook I shared it with my classmates, many of whom are part of the cast of the short three minute film and their families who may have never seen this part of their lives. Again, unlike today when everyone has a smartphone with a built-in video recorder, there were few who even had a camera at the picnic 50 years ago. I was the only one who made a movie. As far as I know, I was the only one out of almost 300 classmates who made any type movie of the event and my short film is like the Zapurader film of the Kennedy assassination, only not quite as historically important. Still, to my knowledge, it is the only surviving moving pictures of the people and the activities of the picnic that day.

    I must admit there is sadness in my heart when watching the film now. Many of the people who I ran around with and wrote about in my journal are no longer with us. In the first minute of the short film, at least seven of the students I recognized, and all of the teachers, are not alive to view their image on the internet. I still know their names, probably better today than I did the day I took their pictures. To me they will always remain young and a part of my past life and will live on in the flickering and jumping, fuzzy images of the short film which frequently appears on my computer monitor as I once again journey back to that happy day of May 8, 1964.
 

  
 
        Memphis, TN -




 

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