Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Toy Drum (Summer 1953)

Few people remember that I began my musical career as a percussionist.  In fact, even I had forgotten this fact until just recently.

I was reminded of this when I had a pile of old family home movies converted to video.  These date from the late 40s, when my father must have purchased a 16mm camera, to the early 60s, when - given my absence in the action - I must have been old enough to be entrusted with the role of cameraman.

If these videos prove anything, it's that I am descended from a long line of cinematographically challenged ancestors.  Exposure is random and framing is laughable.  There are countless shots of people without heads.  Also occasionally heads without bodies.  No sound of course.  Lots of classic home-movie embarrassed movement.

Here's a photo of one of thsee film reels and the box it came in - this one is labeled only "Summer 1953".    It says Kodachrome Daylight Type Double 8mm Magazine - which held a whopping 25 feet of film.

The transferred video has 3 minutes and 48 seconds of nostalgic action.  I appear the most often - making me the nearly 2-year old star.  Well, I was cute, wasn't I?  There are also shots of my parents, my Grandmother and Great Aunt Kate, my uncles Ben and Carl and Carl's wife, my Aunt Esther.  (I had two Aunt Esthers.  How many did you have?)

Fear not, brave Mixed Meters reader.  I am not posting the entire video for you to endure.  I have excerpted a few scenes.  The first is an unusually high quality shot of  me with my parents outside their apartment in Sioux City Iowa.   Here's a still.

(The brick apartment building and the wooden one behind it are still visible in Google maps.  Pan the street view shot to the left and you can see my eventual high school - complete with stone turrets - up the slight hill.)

The other shots in this following video show me with what was apparently my first musical instrument - a cute little toy drum and cymbal combo supported by a neck strap.  And I appear to be having a great time banging away at it.  Yes, I was the center of attention when I was hitting that drum.  Ah, lost youth.  Cute and talented!

In the last scene you'll notice a huge drop in video quality.  It was very underexposed, almost solid black.  I adjusted it as best I could because I wanted to include the final frame of the film - my father, looking plaintively at the camera and covering his ear with his hand, as if to say "Take the drum away from the boy, please."   Or maybe he was unhappy being pigeonholed in conversation by my Uncle Carl, whose suit-coated wrist can just barely be seen.

Oh.  I also added some music and titles to the video in a futile attempt to enhance the home movie experience.  You should prepare yourself in coming blog posts for more blasts like this one from my early history and even pre-history.

Here's an early MM post about my Mother and Ronald Reagan - and her last pack of cigarettes.
Here's an MM post called My Mother, My Worm.
Music in Sioux City, Iowa?  Here's a post called Me and Mahler, Me and Iowa (there's a picture of me and my Dad)
You could also read Forty Years in California - there's another pic of me with my Father.

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