Museum curator puts old home videos on YouTubeFrom wet ink, hot lead and busy beats to wrestling bouts titled “Lipstick and Dynamite.” These are just a couple of themes in old home movies that Wes Anderson has rediscovered in the Barnes County Historical Society Museum. The museum curator has posted them on the online video-sharing site YouTube.com. “I just started it on a whim,” he said.
By: An AP Member Exchange Feature By Jean Schlegel, Valley City Times-Record, The Jamestown Sun
VALLEY CITY, N.D. — From wet ink, hot lead and busy beats to wrestling bouts titled “Lipstick and Dynamite.” These are just a couple of themes in old home movies that Wes Anderson has rediscovered in the Barnes County Historical Society Museum.
The museum curator has posted them on the online video-sharing site YouTube.com. “I just started it on a whim,” he said.
Most of the movies are from the 1950s. The forgotten films include wrestling matches between both men and women from 1950. The duels were entertainment during that year’s North Dakota Winter Show in Valley City and the film is titled “Lipstick and Dynamite.”
Another reel displays a 1950 “Welcome Home Peggy Lee” parade for the North Dakota native whose voice became nationally known. Another home movie is of the staff of the Valley City Times-Record, now forever preserved digitally in black-and-white hues 60 years after an office filming.
Anderson has been digging reels out of the woodwork and so far has about a dozen, though he’d like to get more. Former and current area residents have sent Anderson videos.
Anderson is not limiting the films to mere visuals but is extending his role as preserver of the past to audio as well. For one video project, he recruited Howard Langemo. The 60-year Valley City Kiwanis Club member identified members installed as officers in the basement of the Rudolf Hotel in Valley City, now senior-living apartments Rudolf Square. The two Kiwanis videos are from 1953 and 1954. Anderson recorded Langemo as he rattled off names of old friends, his brother and himself.
Anderson said it is important to undertake this project now, while people who remember those in the videos are still alive. The old home movies also are fragile, he said. In addition to YouTube, Anderson is putting the films on DVDs for the museum’s archives.
In 1950, Brownell “Brownie” Cole of Valley City shot some footage at the Valley City Times-Record. The senior Cole’s son, Craig Cole of Coon Rapids, Minn., sent four of the films to the museum. Anderson said the elder Cole was a shutterbug. Now deceased, he was known as being a survivor of the Bataan Death March in World War II and once worked at the newspaper.
The video shows Times-Record employees, all male except for one woman, assembling the paper. Employees are shown working with wet ink, hot lead and newspaper presses. There are Linotype machine operators, a publisher, an editor, a bookkeeper, advertising representatives and others.
After the newspaper workers were done working, they met at the city swimming pool. The footage shows them jumping off the diving board.
Another film shows square dancers in the City Auditorium’s basement as former Mayor Lou Bruhn makes the calls.
Anderson is working on putting up more films, such as the 1958 Valley City Diamond Jubilee parade, in color. Anderson’s parents, Della and Allan Anderson, are shown driving a 1925 Dodge. Anderson also has footage of the Montgomery Ward’s Bike Parade of kids circa 1952-53, and a movie about Valley City’s 1948 flood.
Anderson says his method of transferring the films to the Internet is not high-tech.
“It’s probably not as professional as it could be, but on our low budget, it is a way of getting it out there,” he said. He calls the project his “blast from the past.” To copy the films to the Web, Anderson projects the home movies onto a white screen at the museum. He uses an old eight-millimeter film projector and records it with a digital camera. He then uploads it onto YouTube.
Anderson would like people to bring in more old films and colored slides of the area for him to record and is thinking of sharing them with the North Dakota State Historical Society in Bismarck.
“It’s definitely history,” he said.