The local university archives found a film in the back of their shelves that was made in 1954. The film was one of several made by Robert Carson, who made films about other local towns in Wisconsin and Minnesota. The man who oversaw the transfer from film, real actual film, to digital media, such as a DVD, had attended the recent showings of similar films in other towns featured in their own Carson films. He admitted that our town's turnout was not like any of the others. I know I was impressed.
I had seen notices of the film's showing in several places. I noticed that it was being presented by the University Archives, which struck me as unusual. I have lived here for more than 40 years and had never seen anything presented by the Archives. To me, "archives" tends to mean old dusty boring records of stuff that has nothing to do with me or my life or today. That aura about the concept is changing some, since my Kindle books reside in an archive and my older emails get archived. The apps I have for my iPad are in an archive. All of them are relevant to today and what is open to me today.
My greatgrandson is about the age I was when the film was made. I don't think of that time as very far back or oddly different, even though there are indeed many differences. If you had told my 15 year old self that I would be sitting in front of my computer, typing on a monitor screen to create a blog post, I would have asked what a computer and monitor and blog post are. I sure didn't expect for history to become so alive for me as I aged but it has.
We have a local historical society and plenty of people who have lived to be 50 or 60 or older. One of Lynn's first projects in her master's degree studies was the creation of a film of the history of our town. I know that Indians lived where we do, that lumbermen and their families lived here, that it has been a center of railroading for more than a century. Our local university has an active history department and we often turn to historians to give us information and perspective on our pasts, institutions, troubles and successes.
The theater used to show the film holds about 360 people. I thought I was being smart by getting there 15 minutes early but every single seat was taken. I did look carefully. I was told that a 2nd showing had been arranged after the first one and I learned yesterday that two more showings are scheduled soon. When I tried to get back to my car, the traffic was so thick and fast that I could not get to the parking lot for a while. I tried to buy a copy of the DVD but they were all sold out. I have placed an order for one of the next batch.