East Texas Video Archive
I’m not the first amateur archivist in the family. My dad, for as long as I can remember, has documented community and family life in East Texas, first with reel-to-reel recorders and Super 8 videos, then with a huge brick of a VHS camcorder (which went on every family vacation, duct-taped and cumbersome, until the late 90s, when the battery kept falling out at Graceland.) Now, like everyone else, he uses his iPhone and sometimes the video functionality on his digital camera. But he kept EVERYTHING, and a few years ago gifted me with a box of roughly 30-40 discs, each with 4-5 events captured on it. Best of all, he had long before captured the Super 8s onto the VHS, a painstaking process where he set up the screen in the living room, put on his oldies records, and videoed the screen while my mom and I tiptoed around the set-up and tried not to knock anything over or share incriminating gossip that might be picked up on audio. He later transferred those videos to DVDs as well, so they’re also in the box.
As modern technology evolved, I eventually found myself with no DVD player, and also no real way to copy those discs to a digital format. But they are treasures, and I knew that in particular, there was a Homer history talk by the OG Homer Historian, Mrs. Ruth Grant, in an event at our church in the early aughts. Because I don’t know of a labled map of old Homer, I needed to see if she mentioned any locations or had other information that I could use in my upcoming folklore presentation. So, I went on Amazon, bought some new equipment and started my journey down memory lane.
The good news is that it all works perfectly and I have been having a great time seeing so many memories again. I did find Mrs. Grant’s lecture, and it provided some missing links and also, since she was an expressive talker, I am able to estimate some of the important landmarks of old Homer based on which direction she pointed as she spoke.
This is really exciting for me, not only for this particular event I am preparing for, but also in general to see how I can use more multimedia content to create for and enhance the Pine Curtain Project.