Mule Train

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As you might imagine, we here at Home Video Studio are blessed to witness a great deal of historical footage. People bring us their films, videos, audio recordings, photos, etc… and we convert them to a digital form to protect and preserve them against future loss.  And every so often, in between the birthday parties and vacation footage, we sometimes get to be witness to some incredible historical events.

This week, we’ve been transferring some 8mm film for a client. The earliest date on one of the reels was 1942. It turns out that a large portion of the film was taken from the battlefield of the European campaign of WWII. There was one particular section that captured my attention.

It was apparently shot in Italy. The footage was of a caravan of mules carrying supplies along a city street. I had never thought about it before but I’ve since learned that the mule train was a popular mode of transport during the war. The Mule Corp in Italy had the manpower of more than five divisions, and more than 30,000 mules, and was a vital part of the supply chain.

Without the mules, needed supplies, like ammunition, medical kits, food supplies… would not have reached the fighting men who needed them. There were roads or pathways in the mountainous regions of Europe that vehicles simply could not reach. And so the mules were put into service. The need for them was so great, infantry divisions would often commandeer every mule they came across, giving its owner a voucher that he could later redeem from the US Army. Near the end of the war, the Americans were paying up to $250 for each animal. Upon the war’s conclusion, all available mules were distributed to Italians who had fought alongside the US as well as local farmers.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotape, audio recordings, photos, negatives and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

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Small World

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The lady pictured above is a customer who just stopped by to say hi during our recent open house. We were chit-chatting about this and that when our lobby monitor started playing one of the award winning movies we put together for another client, “The Lucy Evelyn: From Ship to Store.” Suddenly, she stopped mid-sentence and exclaimed, “OMG! That’s my grand-uncle!”

Turns out she is related to Captain Everett C. Lindsey, the man who commissioned the building of the Lucy Evelyn in 1917. She was a 166 foot, three masted schooner and one of the last of her kind built, as the steam engine was just beginning to take over the commercial nautical world. She was named after Capt. Lindsey’s two daughters.

Sailing from her harbor in Machias Maine, the Lucy Evelyn was primarily used as a cargo vessel, transporting lumber, tobacco, coal and other products to all parts of the world. Using a 5 person crew, she proved difficult to captain, as the only power she had on board was for a small winch that was used to help raise her sails. She was often blown off course or otherwise delayed during her journeys. She was once shelled by the Germans during WWII.

In 1947, she was bought at auction by entrepreneur Nat Ewer for the sum of $1,550.00. Nat had her towed to the shores of New Jersey and beached her in the town of Beach Haven where he had her converted to a high end gift shop. He and his family ran “The Sea Chest” out of the Lucy Evelyn for 22 years before she was lost in a devastating fire in 1972.

The grand-niece of Capt. Lindsey had never seen the ship, having visited the area after the fire. But of course she had heard all the stories. We’re so pleased that she came into our studio and got the opportunity to see a movie where her ancestor had played such a major role.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of memories through the digitalization of film, videotape, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

The Prophets

 

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In 2019 this lovely lady came into my studio and asked for my help in putting together a tribute video for her late husband’s memorial service. Her name is Glory Anne Prophet. Her husband was Ronnie Prophet, Canadian hall-of-fame country singer and entertainer who passed away the previous year. In assembling this video I came to greatly admire his talent, his humor and his generosity of spirit. Hopefully, some of that was captured in the work that we did.

Glory Anne is an impressive performer in her own right. As Glory Anne Carriere, she started out as a soloist on the Canadian country music scene and won the Juno award as Most Promising Female vocalist in 1978. In 1980 she was chosen as Best Country Music Female vocalist.

She joined Ronnie as his singing partner and together they were named CCMA’s Duo of the Year in 1984. They married two years later.

At the Home Video Studio annual awards event in 2019, Ronnie’s video was nominated for a Hanley Award which it won. In my acceptance speech I said that “Ronnie Prophet had an illustrious career; gold records, Juno awards, Entertainer of the Year, Hall of Fame inductee… it is therefore fitting that now, even after he has left us, he’s still raking in the awards.”

Thank you Glory Anne for giving us the honor of commemorating your husband’s life and legacy.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

Bombs Away!

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I enjoy where I live. It’s a modest but inviting home situated atop an elevated plain overlooking the rolling hills of a conservation area (unusual to find in the normally flat landscape of Florida). The rolling hills are to my east which give me some spectacular sunrises. There’s a wooded area to the north so it gives the illusion of solitude within the confines of a middle class community. It could be darn near perfect… if it wasn’t for the howitzers and machine gun fire.

I should explain. On the other side of that wooded area is a large plot of land owned by an antique center. On their property, along with the antiques and flea markets they operate, they feature various events of interest to a select crowd. This weekend it was the WWII arms and ammunition show. At eight this morning we were greeting by a barrage of incoming fire that would put Patton to shame.

And that isn’t the only event that features assault weapons. They hold an annual Civil War reenactment of the fictitious battle of Townsend’s Plantation. And I learned something… 19th century cannon fire is every bit as loud as the 20th century guns of WWII.

But just when I have gotten used to the firepower, from those rolling hills comes the unmistakable war chants of an Indian tribe. That would mean it’s time for the Thundering Spirit Family Pow Wow. Those chants last all day for three days. Or so it would seem.

Most of the other events that are scattered throughout the years aren’t as audibly invasive – The Steampunk Show, the Cars and Guitars Swap meet, the RV and Antique Cars Show. There’s a certain charm to these events and it is nice to see people share their interests. I only wish they could do it a few dozen decibels lower.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of films, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550, visit our website, or stop by our studio now located at 930 N Donnelly St Mount Dora FL 32757.

Cracking up

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There are pros and cons to every digital format. DVDs and CDs, although they are digital, they do have their drawbacks. First, there are clear signs that the industry is moving on and it will only be a matter of time that the disk technology will go the way of the 8-track and VHS tape. That may not happen for a few more years but it sure looks like it is an eventuality.

The other problem with disks is pictured above. They are not indestructible.  They can crack if handled improperly and once cracked, they are pretty much unplayable and the data may not be able to be recovered.

We are happy to provide DVDs and CDs to our customers. We still have that capability and a lot of our customers prefer them to any other option. But we always recommend that they also consider getting their memories stored on a computer file or open a DVA streaming account with us so when the DVDs stop working, the memories that were preserved don’t have to be converted for a second (or sometimes third) time. Food for thought. Whichever format you choose, having your memories digitally preserved is infinitely better that keeping them locked away on inaccessible analog media that will eventually corrode.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotape, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

 

The Gift That Stole Christmas

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I wanted to share this unsolicited post that popped up on social media last week:

“Christmas is coming! Last year I was able to give my parents an amazing present that was well received by the entire family. Old film, VHS, slides, etc that had not been played in 35+ years (and could not be played on any devices we had!) were brought back to life – we were able to watch Christmas’s, birthdays and other celebrations with loved ones that have passed and we were able to laugh and cry as a family. I also condensed an entire cabinet or two of unplayable media into a small digital drive…mom loved this. I highly recommend Michael Ondrasik at Home Video Studio in Mount Dora for the best Christmas present around.”

We see it happen year after year. The work we do for our clients have a tendency to stop their Christmas celebrations in its tracks. As soon as our gift is unwrapped, all other gifts are put on hold while the family gathers around the TV or computer screen to watch their memories begin to play back.

Watching the old footage sparks laughs, brings tears, and triggers other memories of days and times gone by. Christmas is best spent with families and what better way to spend that time than by reflecting on the experiences you had growing up together?

If you want to turn this Christmas holiday into something truly memorable, get in touch with us. Whether it is a home movie or home video conversion to a digital format or a specially designed photo video keepsake using images from your scrapbook or photo albums, we will make sure that you have something under your tree that will be the most talked about present of the season.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

Ah, Sweet Mysteries of Life

 

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Customers come into our studio all the time with little mysteries they want us to solve for them.  It might be an unmarked VHS tape that they are unable to play; or a reel of audio tape from a long forgotten tape recorder the family used to own. They appear to be simple, innocuous objects but they could very well turn out to be a precious family treasure. If only there was a way to play them to find out.

Fortunately we specialize in that. And like I said, it happens all the time. But I never thought that it would happen to me. I had thought I converted all my families memories long ago. I was wrong. The last time I was visiting my mother I happened upon a small unmarked reel of Super 8 film. “What’s this?” I asked her. “No idea,” was the response.

Home Video Studio to the rescue. After we got through transferring the footage to a digital form, we were treated with a glimpse of our lives that took place in the late 1970s.

The movie opened with a neighborhood party that looks like it was a combination of pot-luck and clam bake. Adults only and I only recognized a few. This was my parent’s crowd and I’m sure will help my mom bring back some memories.

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The scene then shifts to my younger sister, now in her 60s but back then fresh-faced and clad in her graduation cap and gown, patiently enduring the requisite photo op in the backyard.

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The movie ends with a little puppy action. A cute terrier playing fetch with someone (we can only see the legs below the knees.) I don’t think I ever met this pooch but I suspect it might have belonged at one time to my sister (the graduation girl).

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These forgotten images of a life that seems so long ago are not particularly memorable… until they become so. Anything that helps connect us to our past is valuable. I can’t wait to show them to my family to see what further memories they might trigger.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of films, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550, visit our website, or stop by our studio now located at 930 N Donnelly St Mount Dora FL 32757.

Mastering the View

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Throughout the ages people have used many different ways to try to capture significant events that occurred within their lives. Just when we think we have seen them all, in comes yet another media type that we had forgotten about.
Pictured above is an old viewmaster type reel that was used to produce “stereo pictures” when placed inside a plastic binocular shaped device. As you can see there are 14 small “slides” but, as there are two slides per image (one for each eye), this equates to 7 pictures. When viewed through the viewmaster, the optics gave the illusion of depth resulting in a 3D effect.
Most of us older folks probably remember the commercial versions of this format featuring our favorite Disney characters or famous landmarks. But some people may not know that there were devices that were available that could be used to produce personal pictures in this “viewmaster” format.
I received a box of these the other day and am going through the process of digitally transforming them so they can be seen on a computer or tv. We won’t be able to reproduce the 3D effect (without the use of special glasses) but will be able to turn them into regular photographs so those memories can once again be enjoyed.
No matter what your family used to capture the special moments of your life, I’m sure Home Video Studio can help you recapture them in a way that will allow you to experience those memories all over again.
Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides (and now personal reel mounts!) For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

Dearly Beloved

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In my lifetime, I have been blessed to receive many honors. None have touched me more than the honor bestowed upon me this past weekend. My son and his fiancée asked me to officiate at their marriage ceremony. It is always a joy to watch your children as they take that momentous step into wedded bliss. It is another thing altogether to be the one to usher them into it.

Here is the advice I imparted to them just before declaring them as husband and wife:

“You are surrounded by friends and family – the people who most love you. And that’s important. But here’s the thing…if you ask each of them to tell you the secret of a successful marriage… if you ask 100 people… you will find that you’ll receive 100 different answers. The bottom line is that the two of you are going to have to figure out what works for you. Marriage, while it is clearly defined, is also extremely intimate and personal. No two marriages are exactly alike because no two couples are exactly alike. So while the “what” of marriage can be quickly grasped, the “how” of marriage can be elusive.”

“This much I can tell you. Marriage is not always easy. It will be full of challenges, obstacles, bumps in the road and hiccups along the way. It is not always easy. But it is always worth it. Marriage can be the single most important, fulfilling, and rewarding relationship that one person can have with another human being.”

“Some people view marriage as a 50/50 relationship – equal parts of give and take. Don’t limit yourself to that because it can be so much more. Go for 100. Love unselfishly. Devote 100% of yourself to doing those things that will bless your spouse. Give 100% to learning and meeting their needs… 100% to recognizing and fulfilling their desires… 100% to anticipating and providing for their wants.”

“I know, it sounds scary. ‘If I give 100% of myself, there will be nothing left over for me.’ But consider this… if you are each successful… if you each truly give 100% of yourself to the other, you each will receive all the other has to offer. No one gets missed; no one is deprived or neglected; it’s a win-win. And the important thing is that by doing this, you will be forced to think and act outside of yourself. You’ll have to adopt a positive mindset of giving; an attitude of service which will affect not only how you treat each other but how you interact with the world around you. I have found from experience that it is the healthiest way to get through this life.”

“Granted, it may not always be attainable but if you genuinely strive for it, I promise you that there is absolutely nothing you cannot accomplish together… fueled and strengthened by the sheer power that will be present and evidenced within your marriage.”

Words from a proud father and father-in-law. Take them for what they’re worth.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of films, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

Playing Through Adversity

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I am constantly amazed at how frequently history comes walking through our doors. Today a client brought us some films that were part of his dad’s collection. He then began to tell his story.

His dad was Paulino Caron, a Cuban musician turned dissident during the height of the Castro regime. He was an active participant in the disastrous Bay of Pigs “invasion” and as a result was captured and imprisoned by the Castro forces along with nearly 1200 other members of Brigade 2506. While in the prison camp, he was shot twice – once in the chest and once in the arm for being “uncooperative.”

What he was doing was trying to build morale among the other prisoners. He fashioned and led a prison camp band. They had no traditional instruments so they improvised. Broken bottles became horns, trash cans became drums. And they played music. It became so popular amongst the other prisoners they performed weekly shows. They took to calling it “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

After JFK finally arranged for their release in late 1962, the real Ed Sullivan, who had heard of their inspirational story, invited them to appear on his actual show with their makeshift instruments to play to his national audience. The video clip survives and can be found below. Paulino Caron is the one leading the band.

As the son was telling his father’s story, the pride in his voice and the glow in his eyes told me all – this was a story I needed to retell. I am thankful that he allowed me to do so.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of films, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.