By LAURA LANE, The Herald-Times
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) – Reels of 8mm film bought for five dollars at the Bloomington Antique Mall gave Leah Tribbett a glimpse into a family’s life captured on home movies shot decades ago.
The Indianapolis photographer is always on the lookout for vintage photo items. When she saw the gallon-sized plastic bag with five reels of film inside for sale at a stand last month, she grabbed it.
“I thought either this movie is blank or there’s something here. And I have the ability to convert it,” Tribbett said.
These reels contain approximately 10 minutes of home movies of a mysterious family from 40 or more years ago.
She took the reels home, ran the 10 minutes of film through a digitizer, and realized she was in possession of someone’s preserved memories.
She assembled a 46-second preview of the film and posted it on social media, hoping to locate someone in the family depicted. It can be viewed on Tribbett’s Facebook page.
The first home movie clip features a woman with curlers in her hair running away, hiding behind a bush when she realizes a camera is focused on her. There is a family picnic along a creek and a large outdoor gathering that appears to be a summer family reunion.
Then it cuts to two people swinging in a lake, ropes in hand and with the tips of their water skis uplifted. They get up and stand as the ski boat accelerates.
Then, an old pick-up appears, parked. The truck bed is full of children, probably cousins. There are 10; a little boy wears a Superman T-shirt.
There is aerial footage of a farm, transitioning to a woman dancing, swinging a bottle of milk with one hand and holding a baby on her hip with the other. Children running and playing in a stream, ankle-deep in water, are seen in another clip.
Then the camera fixes on a girl who looks about 4 years old. She wears a red dress; maybe it’s velvet. She’s sitting in a purple upholstered chair – there’s a hint – looking at a family photo album with a lady who has a beehive hairstyle.
The final images show a baby outside in the sun, a toddler who is probably now in his 40s, balancing his position by holding on tight to the stroller. The toddler then sits in a garden chair, the old-fashioned type made from wide strips of durable fabric woven together.
“I would really like it to come down to the family,” Tribbett said.
On Sunday, she thought the mystery had been solved. “There was a woman who saw it on Facebook, and she was like, ‘That’s my grandma, she always had curlers in her hair. And there’s my mom, there’s aunt Jenny’, so I thought that was it,” Tribbett said.
It wasn’t, the woman later explained in a text message. “She said after looking further it was not her family.”
The research is therefore still ongoing. “Even though the people in the film have moved, maybe they still have family members in the area who will see this and recognize them.”
SOLVE THE MYSTERY: If you have any information about these home movies or can identify anyone in them, contact Tribbett at: [email protected]
Copyright 2022 The Associated press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.