News From The Woods - February 20, 2014

NEWS FROM THE WOODS

By Bob Ketchum

Originally Published February 20, 2014


"The German Connection, OR:
How Dieter Set The Wayback Machine For 1967"

I received an email ten days ago from Dieter Loesken, of Bonn, Germany. It started a chain of events that provided me with not only a heartfelt "Aw, gee" moment, but it also pointed out (again) how odd it is that so many "unusual" things have happened to me in my life.

Rather than write a story, I prefer to let you read how it actually happened through email contact all the way across the Atlantic Ocean:

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Hello Bob,
I watched on youtube your videos of Mountain Home in the 80s. I did not recognize most of the streets and buildings which I saw in 1967 and 1968. At that time I worked with the First National Bank and Trust Company of Mountain Home, prior to that I attended the Mountain Home High School while waiting for my work permit.

During my stay in Mountain Home I took a few 8mm home movies, among others the homecoming parade.

You stated in your videos that Mountain Home is your home town. Would you be interested in my movies?

I am looking forward to your reply,
best regards,
Dieter Loesken

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Naturally, the prospect of getting any 8mm film footage of this area in '67 is tempting, so I told Dieter if he'd send the films to me I would be happy to convert the analog film to digital DVD at no charge if he would give me the local footage. He agreed.

The box arrived from Germany last Friday.

I got set up for the job on Monday…… Cranked up the projection capture system, placed the first of two 8mm home movie reels, this one marked "1968", on my trusty ancient 8mm film projector. The first thing that popped up was…………

Nope. Not me.

But it WAS about the last person I would have thought of. It was the 1967 version of a teenaged Chuck Shinsky, one of my very own personal childhood friends, whom I lost on February 5, 2005. Of all the cherished friends I have lost and miss, Chuck is right up there in the top 5.

And here he was, smiling and having the time of his life, drinking a beer and smoking a cigarette with another old childhood friend, John Kenney, who is fortunately still alive and it looks like the three of them are having a pretty good time.

I am of course stunned, and cannot take my eyes off the screen for the three minutes that film clip ran. Of course I could not stop the projector as the film continued running, (I cannot manipulate the footage until after it is in the computer), so the projector rolled on, revealing a slice of life of Mountain Home in the late 60's, including footage of two homecoming parades, a baseball game, the lakes and rivers, fish hatchery & historic Wolf House, and footage of the Highway 62 ferry to Henderson.

As I continued into the second large film reel of footage - mainly consisting of other footage of exotic trips to other countries and personal home movies - Dieter and I had some rapid-fire email exchanges:

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Hello, Bob!
I am delighted that you got such a surprise looking at your best friends. I googled and learned that Chuck died at the age of 54. I met Chuck at the MH High School. I was waiting for my work permit to work with The First National Bank and Trust Co. of Mountain Home. To shorten the waiting time I visited the principal of the High School and asked if I could attend classes. There was no problem and I was given the combination to a certain locker. It happend that Chuck used the same locker and that's how we met. His eyes got a sparkle when he learnt that I had just turned 21. So we made a number of trips to the state line and I did not feel bad about it.

Yes, it is a small world. John Kenny was very much involved with the radio station at that time. He was great fun, too. It is a good feeling for me that you got such a surprise and also will be able to use some material for the official film archives.

I had met some of Chucks friends back then, maybe you were one of them. Yes, the music shop was run by Eddy. His shop is actually somewhere on my home movies. Chuck at that time had a good friend who lived on the other side of the car ferry. He also took movies and was wild. In his (parents) house he had a pool table and a color tv, which was very expensive at that time…….

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Uh…… waitaminute……………………Why does that sound so familiar?

I fired back:

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DUDE! OK. NOW you are talking about ME, I still live in the same house - in Henderson (at the time only accessible by ferry). Same pool table, but a newer color TV. I grew up in the resort business & we lived down Tracy Ferry Road (near where Chuck's parents lived at the time). Dad bought 110 acres over here in Henderson and got into the real estate business, hence the "big expensive house". Mom and dad left me the house, which I have lived in since they both passed away. I moved my recording studio over here almost 20 years ago.

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Turns out the footage on the reel of the lake Norfork ferry was the very day Dieter and Chuck came to visit.

I have chill bumps as I type this.

Immediately after sending my email, I got a return response:

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Bob-
I remember now that you demonstrated the color effect by taking the color away so that it was only in black and white and then you switched the color back on. And you know what, while you were doing it a Doris Day movie was on. To remember that means your color TV left a great impression on me.
Dieter

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It's very strange when you rediscover some "lost" memory, or get to peer back into time itself and see something you never even remember happening. It's a weird feeling. I don't even want to figure the odds of this happening, either. I think it might scare me.

Actually I really don't get scared anymore. All these "odd" things that happen in my life usually happen for a reason.

And so, now that you've heard the complete story, here is a link to take you to some of the footage that Dieter was so kind to donate to the archives:

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