Old Movie Memories Invade My Mind

2 Nov
Our grandparents purchased this house in 1962,  a few years after the last movie was filmed.

Our grandparents purchased this house in 1962, a few years after the last movie was filmed.


In the attic of our home in the Catskills, my brother found a box of old 9 mm movies. These 29 movies recount the early days of our parent’s marriage. There is my Mom’s shower, and even a movie of the wedding itself. We were shocked when we found it!

The majority of the movies were filmed between 1951 and 1958, with a few a little bit later. So we have film of my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, my brother and I…and a few of my sister who was born in 1958. We figure after the third child was born, there was not a lot of time to film us!

My brother took the films to be put on to DVDs. So we now each have two DVDs filled with 3 ¼ hours of family memories, in color. There is no sound, but it does not matter. We can often figure out what they are saying.

They are so young in these films. My parent’s wedding is especially poignant: seeing so many family members who have passed away. To see them once again in this movie means so much to all of us. You can see the joy and excitement in the synagogue in West New York, NJ.

I knew that movies existed. We had seen them as children. But did not know where they were. So the find of the box filled with movies was extraordinary! It provided much joy for my siblings and me.

I always thought the movies were in black and white. I remember seeing a few of them when we were children. My Dad would set up his projector in the living room and show the movies against a wall. Some of the movies we found, I remember so well. I thought I remembered the incidents themselves. But when I saw the movies, I realize what I remember is the movie of what happened.

The bulk of the movies were taken in the Catskills at my grandparent’s bungalow colony. I see my aunts and uncles, cousins, family friends. People I knew my entire life. There are also people I do not recognize. Did they only come up for just a year or so? Or perhaps they are people who passed from my parents’ lives and were not important? Maybe they were just visitors or friends of friends.

Some I might not recognize because they changed so much from the time I was young to when I remember them as I grew up. But it does not matter who they are, they were part of our parent’s life, so we are glad to see them.

It is fun to see the clothes and cars from the 50’s, to see them laughing and goofing off at the bungalows, to see them so alive is so joyful! I wish I could watch these movies everyday.

I cannot. Because along with the joy of the movies, is the realization that not only they are gone, but also the joy of bungalow colony life.   This is the zenith of Jewish bungalow colony life in the Catskills. The 1950s, 60s and early 70s is when so many people journeyed up to the ‘mountains’ for vacation.

It was also important to get children out of the city in the late 40s and early 50s, before the polio vaccine was developed. By being in the Catskills, they were somewhat spared this dread disease.

My parents and grandparents in front of the home in 1962.  My siblings and I now own it.

My parents and grandparents in front of the home in 1962. My siblings and I now own it.

I miss my summers in the Catskills. I am lucky as my siblings and I own our grandparent/parent’s home which our grandparents purchased in 1962. The house has so many happy memories.   We still have a place to stay and enjoy the peace. We are also lucky because our cousins have summer homes in Kauneonga Lake as well. When we go up, we create new memories, but we also have the history of experiences shared.

Next summer I plan to bring the DVDs up to the Catskills. I think my siblings, cousins and all the children would have a great time sharing these memories as we see our parents alive once again.

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