Tag Archives: Michigan

Digitized 8mm Film is Like Priceless Time in a Bottle

The images are grainy and slightly out of focus, but four digitized reels of old 8mm film from the late 1950 and early 1960s are like priceless time in a bottle. The films were shot on the 8mm film camera owned by Earl J. Mulqueen Sr., my maternal grandfather. They were loaned by my Aunt Joanie so we could get them scanned and made into digital video for all to enjoy.

Seeing these silent moving images reminded me of the 1970 hit song Time in a Bottle by Jim Croce, although the video predates the song by at least seven years. It also made me think of the wonderful Kodak commercial song The Times of Your Life by Paul Anka:

“Look back at the joys and the sorrow.
Put them away in your mind.
Memories are time that we borrow.
To spend when we get to tomorrow.”

Even with the technical flaws, the video is amazing. I had never seen moving pictures of my Grandpa Earl, and I had just a few seconds of video showing my Grandma Mulqueen. This batch of 8mm film fixed all of that, giving us a peek back more than 50 years at a Christmas morning, a visit to the folks house in Cudahy and times at my parents house in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

It also provides the first video I’ve seen of my Aunt Evelyn (Deutsch) Mulqueen, who died of brain cancer at age 33. That was more than a year before I was born. There are shots of Earl J. Mulqueen Jr., Evelyn and their six children. As you can read elsewhere on this blog, Earl was a war hero U.S. Marine who fought at Guadalcanal and Tarawa. He lost his leg in the West Loch Disaster in May 1944 at Pearl Harbor.

I found myself choking back tears to see video of my late father holding my older brother, David C. Hanneman, in the summer or fall of 1963. For the loved ones of all the dear souls who appear in the video, the images are like spun gold. You can enjoy the full 11 minutes 47 seconds below. [We’ve also added a second volume in the viewer at the bottom of the page.]

A Look Back at Two Generations of Halloween

I have nothing but good memories of Halloween. Growing up in the late 1960s and early 1970s, October 31 was a date we looked forward to. Whether we got to buy a costume at the dime store or made our own, it was always an exciting night.

My brother David (left), yours truly at center at cousin Laura all set for Halloween at our home in Grand Rapids, Mich., circa 1964.
My brother David (left), yours truly at center at cousin Laura all set for Halloween at our home in Grand Rapids, Mich., circa 1964.

One of my most vivid Halloween memories was documented in my book, The Journey Home. I recall Dad tearing out the front door in his sock feet. I wondered what was happening. We figured it out a few minutes later when he dragged two teenagers into the front door and made them apologize for smashing our lit pumpkins. He then turned them over to Sun Prairie police.

We had one sad Halloween when my brother David fell into the neighbors tree well and spilled all of his candy. We all shared to make up for it. Another year, we went across town to “trick or treat” at a few houses of family friends. At one door, I was shocked that the lady who answered called me by name. “How does she know me with this costume on?” I wondered. My brother chimed in, “You forgot to put your mask down.” D’oh!

David C. Hanneman was a tiger for Halloween 1964.
David C. Hanneman was a tiger for Halloween 1964.

Perhaps the most fun we had was creating our own costumes. Lighting the end of a cork on fire, then using the charred remains to paint black whiskers on our faces. Stuffing pillows up an oversized shirt helped complete the hobo look.

It wasn’t until toward the end of my trick-or-treating days that the scare over supposed razor blades in candy apples occurred. Hospitals offered to X-ray candy bags to check for pins or razor blades. That made me wonder if the candy would then glow? Ah, as it turned out the whole thing was a fraud that took on the sheen of urban legend.

Son Stevie watches Grandpa Dave Hanneman prepare to carve, circa 1993.
Son Stevie watches Grandpa Dave Hanneman prepare to carve, circa 1993.

Once I had my own children, Halloween took on a new dimension. Our firstborn was too shy to go door to door, so we made our main stop at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Eventually, Halloween became a major event. French onion soup or chili simmered in a crock pot while we took the kids around the neighborhood collecting goodies. Then we retreated into the warmth of the house for good food, warm apple cider and pie. The kids also ate candy.

With the more recent controversies claiming Halloween as un-Christian or even satanic, it was refreshing to read this article on About.com regarding the Catholic roots of Halloween.

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