A few 8mm film fragments have survived

I clearly remember home movie nights at our house in Kahala in the early to mid-1950s. First would come a well-worn silent cartoon on 8mm film featuring “Mighty Mouse.” It didn’t matter how many times you had seen it. Before television, at least in our house, this was the closest you would get to entertainment.

Then came one or more of the reels of my parents’ 8mm home movies. My parents had worked on these, splicing together a number of small reels of film into larger, 5-inch reels compiled by subject matter.

This is one of those good news/bad news stories.

Melted The good news: I recently found a metal film storage box with six reels in it.

Reel I: Bonnie

Reel II: Home scenes

Reel III: Neighborhood scenes

Reel IV: Scenes away from home

Reel V: Service friends

Reel VI: Hilo

Notice that there’s no Ian yet, it seems, so all these films likely date to years before 1947.

Now the bad news: The film on these reels has been virtually melted in place. My guess is that at some point, they spent time shoved up into the attic of the house, where they just cooked. As far as I can determine, they are totally unsalvageable.

But then a bit of good news. In another small cardboard box, I found some mailing boxes returning small reels of film that had been sent to Sears for processing. Most were empty, but four had film in them which appeared to have survived the decades of storage. Just a small fragment compared to the multiple reels of melted film, but more than I expected.

So this past week I dropped them at Rainbow Video on Keeaumoku, which advertises that they will digitize old 8mm movies. And yesterday we picked up the resulting files. Each reel apparently held between a minute and several minutes of surviving film.

The first that I looked at turns out to be taken at my mother’s parents home along old Farrington Highway in Waipahu, just where the stream runs down from Waikele. In the background, the Waipahu Sugar Mill looms, smoke rising from its stacks. The mountainsides visible in the background are undeveloped. Video quality is poor, but there’s enough detail to get an idea of the scene.

The young girl is my sister, Bonnie. My mother’s brother, Jim Yonge and his first wife, Pat, appear briefly. And in the final second or two, my mother, Helen Yonge, is briefly seen.

I don’t appear (as an infant) in this movie, although it looks to have been taken after I was born. But I’ll have to ask my sister for her estimate of the date.

In any case, welcome to the “new” Waipahu home of Duke and Heleualani Yonge, in what I’m guessing is about 1948-49, maybe 1950.

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