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Super 8:  Marion
Written May 29, 2012

Long before we began recording video with our cell phones, we were shooting real home movies, using actual motion-picture film!

Eastman Kodak had introduced 16-millimeter black-and-white stock ’way back in 1923.  When I got around to buying my own Bell & Howell movie camera in 1972, the format of choice had become 8-millimeter color, specifically Super 8.

I shot a couple of hours of film between 1972 and 1975.

Some of the tiny, low-resolution 0.16” by 0.23” frames from that footage have already been reproduced as still pictures on this website.

Eventually, my old projector gave out.  Therefore, I took three reels to a local shop in 2012 to be professionally transferred to DVD so I could watch these scenes again.  I remembered most of them, but I discovered a few 40-year-old sequences I had forgotten.

And now I can use those digitally remastered frames to illustrate seven stories for this website!

Super 8: Kentucky/Houston takes us to a baseball stadium that was, at the time, one of a kind.  We'll also travel down some rural roads in Bluegrass country.

Super 8: Bread Rally includes 85 images showing what it's like to work on the crew staging a TSD road rally.  We check in the contestants and their cars at the starting line and then go out on the course to operate a checkpoint.

Super 8: Christmas shows our family's home decorations from 1973 and 1974.  You'll also see us opening our gifts.

Super 8: Canada chronicles a trip I took with my high school friend through southern Ontario in July 1973.

Super 8: Tappan 1975 depicts Oberlin College's commencement ceremony.

Super 8: Bronco World Series details our cable channel's coverage of the locally-played international baseball tournament.

Super 8: State Wrestling accompanies the Cable TV-3 crew to the 1975 PIAA high school wrestling championships.

But first, I tried out my new camera 15 miles from home, on the streets of the city where I was working in 1972.

That city was Marion, Ohio.  Marion was a county seat and had become one of Ohio’s major industrial centers with a peak population of nearly 39,000. 

However, after I arrived, its industry began to decline, and the population dropped 12% over the next two decades.  (It wasn’t my fault!)

My father’s auto dealership was three miles from the Union County line, so he sold a lot of cars in Marion County.  That meant someone from Vernon M. Thomas Chevrolet had to drive to Marion almost every day to file titles at the courthouse.

Perhaps they also needed to obtain signatures on finance papers at National City Bank, located directly across the street at the corner of Center and Main.

I was filming away at the marble entrance of the bank when, much to the surprise of both of us, whom did I encounter?

Vernon M. Thomas himself!  He was making the dealership’s daily rounds.  We hardly knew what to say.

The light changed, and he proceeded across the street to the courthouse.  I finished out that first film cartridge with more downtown scenes.  I would have more opportunities to film my father later.

In later years, these sidewalks would become emptier, as most businesses deserted the downtown to relocate on the outskirts of the city.  The district that remained wasn’t exactly a ghost town, but it began calling itself Historic Downtown Marion.



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