In April of 2009 my beloved aunt Siegie lost her life to cancer. While going through her things, Siegie’s son Chris came upon a box of home movies. Most were filmed in the early 60’s and featured my father and aunts as teenagers and young adults. Chris had watched them several times as a kid. One box appeared different, however, and the only hint as to its origin was the name printed on the outside.
|Stephen and Sigrid (Ahrens) Jones|
Chris decided to hire someone to transfer all the videos to DVD and brought along the mystery box. It was good he hadn’t investigated the contents himself, because the roll of nitrate film inside was highly combustible.
The man doing the conversion called Chris later that day and said the video was very old, professionally done, and it featured a wedding, honeymoon, and young children. The wedding part struck me at once. It would be Sigrid’s 1929 wedding, of course, and her parents, Carl and Madonna Ahrens, are the protagonists of my novel. Surely the film would show the parents of the bride! While I wouldn’t be able to hear them (no sound) I would at least be able to see them move and smile – ghosts would come alive, briefly at least.
In the end, I was disappointed to learn that the parents of the bride were not filmed at the wedding. Carl is, in fact, not in the video at all, but Madonna makes several short appearances. The footage is still incredible because it offers moving glimpses of candid scenes from the past. Stephen and Sigrid strolling the streets of Quebec City (streets I walked myself half a century later as a teenager). A father roughhousing with his children. Doting grandparents. The clothes are different, but the people aren’t that different from today.
I am sharing the video here. It’s eleven minutes long, but quite fascinating. If you don’t have time to watch the whole thing, but wish to see Madonna (a main character in The Oak Lovers) here are the spots to skip to.
1:37 – Madonna and her daughter buying fruit.
1:43 – train station, Madonna and Sigrid walk by. Madonna is the short one.
7:05 – Madonna holding baby Ingrid’s hand as she tries to walk.
9:45 – Madonna holding baby Stephanie.
Enjoy! I would love to hear your thoughts!