News From The Woods - July, 2006

NEWS FROM THE WOODS

By Bob Ketchum

Originally Published July 15, 2006


"This Is Your Town, Part Two"


After restoring the film and preserving it digitally I began to show it to some of my friends who had also grown up here. We would all sit around and you'd hear comments like: "There's so-and-so from the such-and-such business", or "Now I KNOW that face but I just can't remember the name". It became a game for us to try and name as many people as we could while the film ran. This in turn gave me the idea to place each person's name on the screen as they appear in the film, to make it easier for others to identify the participants. I started by listing all the people I recognized first, then gradually began adding names as others chimed in with names I could not remember. Word got out in town about my little project, and soon my phone was ringing off the wall. It seemed everybody knew somebody in the film. The MHHS Class of 1956 had their reunion and I gave a copy of the film, with some of the names in titles, and they had a free-for-all as I was later told. A short time later I invited several of those 50's alumni over to the studio and added even more names from the generation before mine. One of those in attendance said that the mayor had obtained an early copy of the video on DVD and was trying to get people to get involved and add names. I dropped by the city hall and talked to Mayor Ed House about it and he said that he didn't even know I was working on a similar project. We pooled our resources and it was at that point the Mountain Home Chamber of Commerce got involved. We held a public showing at the Baxter County Library and it was standing room only. I stayed for almost three hours after the showing and added many more names onto the project which I had with me on my laptop. By this time I had hundreds of titles on the film and felt it was getting cluttered, but could not stop the wheels of progress. Things really took off when I was interviewed by the local newspaper, The Baxter Bulletin. Here is a reprint of that article:


Movie takes Twin Lakes back in time


THOMAS GARRETT
Bulletin Senior Writer

Where were you in '55?

If you lived in Mountain Home, there's a chance you might have been in the movies. At least one movie, Dixie Films Productions' "This Is Your Town." For half a century, the movie changed hands, from those who helped get it made to members of the next generation.


(Bob Ketchum of Henderson works on editing a 1955 promotional film about the Twin Lakes Area. The movie surfaced last year and Ketchum has transferred it to DVD. The scene to the left is a section featuring The Baxter Bulletin.)

Last year, it fell into the hands of Baxter County native and media entrepreneur Bob Ketchum who restored and transferred the movie to DVD and has made it a hot item among Twin Lakes Area residents.

"This Is Your Town" is a lost treasure, an historical artifact that captures a moment in time in Mountain Home's history. It was a time when the town was on its way to becoming a small city, a time before the boom that eventually turned it into a regional hub.

In a control room at his Cedar Crest Studios at Henderson, Ketchum was excited and animated as he recounted the story of "This Is Your Town." As scenes from the movie unfolded on a computer screen, he pointed out people, described where the action was taking place and, sounding a bit wistful at times, guided a tour back in time.

His first contact with it was in the mid-1980s when he was asked if he could transfer a copy of an old movie to video.

Ketchum is known for his audio and video work, having helped with several singers and music groups, including the rock group Krokus, record their work.

Gold albums hang on the studio walls, including one for Freddy Fender's "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights," on which Ketchum played drums (another of his talents).

He saw footage from the movie, a promotional film, but the project wound up on the back burner, and as sometimes happens, it soon dropped off the charts.

Last year, Judy Ramey of Cotter told Ketchum she had an old movie that she wanted to transfer to video for a class reunion.

Ketchum said he watched the movie, "and I remembered it."

"I had seen this before," said Ketchum.

It was the movie he'd first seen about 20 years earlier. As he watched it, there were familiar faces - including his father and, later in the movie, his parents and even him as a young boy.

"I can't tell you what fun I've had restoring this old gem, which I thought I had lost 20 years ago," he said.


(Bob Ketchum of Henderson works on editing a 1955 promotional film about the Twin Lakes Area. The movie surfaced last year and Ketchum has transferred it to DVD. The scene to the left is a section featuring the owners and editors of The Baxter Bulletin.)

Ketchum has spent months working on the film, converting it to digital video, restoring and repairing portions of it, adding a music soundtrack and identifying people in the movie. There was no soundtrack, so Ketchum used songs from 1955 to accompany the scenes.

'Good Old Boys Club'

So, how did "This is Your Town" come about?

Ketchum said he talked about it with Garvin Carroll, retired Arkansas Power & Light manager and a member of the Baxter County Historical and Genealogical Society. Carroll also was one of those who were instrumental in getting the movie made.

According to Ketchum, Carroll's story was that in 1955 there was a group of local businessmen who called themselves the "Good Old Boys Club." They worked to promote and improve the area. The "Good Old Boys" decided to have a promotional film made and pooled their resources.

Clyde Bradley, who owned the Baxter Theater, found a company that made promotional films, and it was hired to make one about Mountain Home. Ketchum said based on calendars in the background of some scenes, it apparently was filmed in December 1955. Ketchum said you could tell who probably donated more to the project based on the screen time different businesses have.

The filmmaker went all over town shooting footage of businesses, club meetings, officials, the school and people going about their business. It was shot on 16-millimeter black-and-white film, which Ketchum said held up very well.

A moment in time

The movie's opening shot shows the Mountain Home square. The Baxter County Courthouse looks much the same as it does now, although the trees on the south lawn are somewhat shorter. There's also a traffic signal pole on the southwest corner of the square. A shot up Baker Street shows two water towers in the background, one of which still stands.

There's footage of a city council meeting at city hall. The building, which also served as a fire station and later a library, now houses the law offices of John Crain.


(A scene from a 1955 promotional film about the Twin Lakes Area. The movie surfaced last year and has been transferred to DVD.)

As with many Hollywood DVD releases, "This Is Your Town" also features an added bonus. Included as a DVD extra is a color travelogue, "Razorback Rainbows," which features the resort owned by Bob Ketchum's father and fishing in the Twin Lakes Area.

He said it was filmed in the same time period as "This Is Your Town." Along with the travelogue, which includes narration, is raw footage showing the Norfork Lake resort owned by Ketchum's family, Blackberry Hill Lodge.

Other standout scenes include:

  • Footage of Anglers Cafe on the west side of the square, now the site of the Mountain Home Plaza. By the time Anglers closed in the 1980s, its walls were filled with mounted fish that were caught in Norfork and Bull Shoals lakes and the White River. In the 1955 footage, only a few fish are hung on the walls.
  • Cedar Grill Motel and Restaurant, which was located on the west side of Main Street a block north of the square.
  • The Baxter Bulletin office, which was located in a stone building on Main Street north of the square. The Bulletin footage includes shots of owners Tom Dearmore, Rex "Jickie" Bodenhamer and Irl Paul.
  • Meetings of the Rotary and Lions clubs. One distinguishing feature of the two scenes is the Rotarians are in coats and ties, the Lions are dressed more casually.
  • Work being done by AP&L crews.
  • KTLO's station and engineers.
  • Pleasant Mill Lumber Company on State Highway 201 South by the fairgrounds, now the site of storage units.
  • A beauty shop where the latest in 1955 hair styles are shown. The models include a couple of little girls who grew up to be local businesswomen.

    Have you seen it?

    If you see the movie "This Is Your Town" and recognize someone in it who isn't identified on screen, Bob Ketchum wants to know so the DVD can be updated.

    Ketchum can be reached at Cedar Crest Studios, 488-5777, or by e-mail at cedarcrest@springfield.net.

    He also can be contacted at his Web site, www.cedarcreststudio.com.

    Do you remember?

    Two scenes show many Mountain Home residents. One was shot at the Mountain Home school, now Pinkston Middle School, and shows children being paraded before the camera, one class after another.

    Another was shot at the Baxter Theater, which was on Baker Street two blocks south of the square. The building now is part of First Security Bank.

    "Several segments of residents of the area in the Baxter Theater show that the entire town turned out for this film," said Ketchum. "I found myself with my mom and dad in one pan of the Baxter Theater, but I don't remember being present the day a man showed up at the movie house with bright lights and a camera."

    "I find that odd - and a bit unsettling - but was thrilled when I saw myself and family, as I am sure everyone else is when they see their own families in this rare and historical film," he said.

    Ketchum hopes as more people see the movie, they'll remember the circumstances and the people who are shown. He keeps updating the movie as more people depicted in it are identified.

    "I'm up to version three," he said.


    (A scene from a 1955 promotional film about the Twin Lakes Area features two girls in a beauty parlor. The movie surfaced last year and has been transferred to DVD.)

    Even with a low-key release, the DVD has been a hot item around Mountain Home. Ketchum said it was a hit at the recent Class of '56 high school reunion. The Historical Society has been doing landmark business with the DVD, too, according to Ketchum.

    As with many Hollywood DVD releases, "This Is Your Town" also features an added bonus. Included as a DVD extra is a color travelogue, "Razorback Rainbows," which features the resort owned by Bob Ketchum's father and fishing in the Twin Lakes Area.

    He said it was filmed in the same time period as "This Is Your Town." Along with the travelogue, which includes narration, is raw footage showing the Norfork Lake resort owned by Ketchum's family, Blackberry Hill Lodge.

    He also hopes to arrange a public screening of the movie so people can come out and see what life was like in Mountain Home in 1955.

    - - Bulletin Photos by Kevin Pieper

    Originally published July 5, 2006

    More on "This Is Your Town" next month!

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