Feature Video–October 20th–Owens Field–Gibbes–home movies

Home Movie Day is upon us again and this year it is the 10th anniversary of the annual event. I have attended and assisted this event for the last few years in London, and this year will be both attending and extending my assistance to the Columbia, SC version that will be taking place at Conundrum Music Hall in West Columbia, from 3:30pm through to 6:30pm this saturday, October 20th.

Come One, Come All and bring your films too!

The film on the featured video is from a prominent Columbia family and shows Owens Field at its dedication in 1930, when it was called Columbia Municipal Airport and was the only airport serving the city. More than 15,000 people attended this opening and were amazed by spectacular flying machines.

This film comes from the collection of the Gibbes family. The collection was donated by Mrs Susan Gibbes Robinson, and were all shot by her father, J. Heyward Gibbes, a prominent Doctor and Chief Medical Consultant at the Veterans Hospital in Columbia. The films are a wonderful collection of home movies from the region and mainly feature Dr. Gibbes and his family enjoying their free time at home, at the beach, hunting and fishing and even playing golf. They range from the 1920s through to the 1960s and show some wonderful images of a family in the pursuit of various activities.

This picture shows Susan Gibbes and her sister Eugenia at the airfield and this weekend at Hollings Special Collections at Thomas Cooper Library you can see an exhibition of Home Movies selected by curators from MIRC, which includes a selection of clips of Susan over the years as captured on film. There will be screens where films will play on a loop so you can drop in anytime to have a look at some of the home movie collections available for viewing. The selection will feature:

Screen 1: Susan Gibbes Robinson, a lifetime on film and

Screen 2: Cruise ships and Kodachrome, 30 years of home movie making

For more home movies from the Gibbes collection: http://mirc.sc.edu/fedora/repository/usc%3Agibbes/-/collection

For more information about Home Movie Day: http://homemovieday.com

For more information about HMD at Columbia: http://www.facebook.com/events/197294000403290/

Blog written by Lydia Pappas, Curator, MIRC

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Feature Video – Sept 20th – Olympic Athletes return

The Olympics, and Para-Olympics, are over in London,  and returning athletes from both these competitions are already home. However, in previous Olympics which took place around the world, it may have been many weeks or months before the athletes could return home, depending on where they had to travel to, and get back from.

Our feature video for this week shows athletes returning to the Port of New York from the 1920 Olympic Games, or the Games of the VII Olympiad, held in Antwerp, Belgium. Although we do not have a record of most of the athletes that are featured returning on this transport ship, we do know that the close up of a single athlete is of Mr. Patrick McDonald, a policeman with the City of New York and a prominent Irish-American.

Pat McDonald won the gold medal at the Olympic Games that year for the 56 pound weight throw event. In fact, not only did he win the event (at the age of forty) , but he set the world record which to this day has not been beaten.  He had preciously won the gold for the shot putt at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, although the weight throw event was his speciality, a popular event in Irelands traditional games and one at which his family excelled. After moving to America in the early 1900′s, he joined the police department in NYC in 1905, and served the force for over 40 years, retiring as a captain. He was a prominent member of the Irish American Athletic Club in the city and won many national and metropolitan championships in weight throwing.  He was a popular traffic cop, was nicknamed ‘Babe’, although he often stood out in his uniform at 6 foot 4 and over 280 pounds. To attend the Olympics he took a leave of absence without pay.

We would like to be able to name the other athletes that returned on the same transport ship as Patrick McDonald – can you help us identify them? One of them could be Hawaii born, Duke Kahanamoku, who had won an Olympic gold medal for the 100 meters freestyle and the men’s 4x200m relay in the swimming competition. One of them could also be Paddy Ryan, another Irish NY policeman, who not only won the silver in the same event as Pat McDonald, but who also went on to win the gold in the Hammer Throw event. Other athletes who attended this Olympics for the United States include Charley Paddock (Men’s 100m, Gold), Frankie Genaro (Boxing, Flyweight, Gold), Brutus Hamilton (Men’s Decathlon, Silver), and Nat Pendleton (Wrestling, Heavyweight, Silver).

Watch the whole video here: http://mirc.sc.edu/fedora/repository/usc%3A2108

Blog written by Lydia Pappas, Curator, MIRC

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UFO – Unidentified men on the street

Where were you on January 24th 1973? Were you in Florence, SC and were you stopped by a WBTW reporter on that day?

If so, you might recognize yourself in this featured video. We don’t know much about this local television news item.

http://mirc.sc.edu/fedora/repository/usc%3A1155

It was possibly filmed in Florence, SC – can you identify this building perhaps? Several men were stopped and asked their opinions about the peace accord with North Vietnam that was brokered by President Nixon the previous day. Were you one of them? Or can you identify these men?

Please contact us if you know who these passers by are or where this news film was filmed: MIRC@mailbox.sc.edu

Or leave a comment here on our blog for us.

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Honea Path and the End of Summer

Claude Cannon, Lee Crawford, Ira Davis, E. M. “Bill” Knight, Maxie Peterson, C. R. Rucker and Thomas Yarborough all celebrated Labor Day for the last time on September 3, 1934 in the small town of Honea Path, South Carolina.  Three days later six were dead and one was mortally wounded.

The general textile workers strike of 1934 strained relations between mill owners, management and workers throughout the eastern United States.  The strike began in the south on September 1st and grew to become the largest general strike in U. S. history.  In Honea Path, three days into the strike, hundreds of workers from the Chiquola Milll were picketing outside the mill when violence erupted. What happened to start the violence remains unclear.  Whatever the flashpoint, when the guns fell silent six mill workers were dead (the seventh died days later) and  dozens were wounded.

Fox Movietone News Story 23-157 documents the funeral held for the murdered textile workers on September 9th.  George L. Googe, Southern Regional Director for the American Federation of Labor, spoke at the funeral as did John A. Peel of the United Textile Workers.

The scope of the funeral is itself a testament to the significance of this event.  According to one source, over 10,000 people attended–a figure that is plausible based on what is visible in this film (note: the film’s audio was poorly recorded at the time).

A large crowd assembles for the funeral of the six men killed at Chiquola Mill

The full story of the Chiquola Mill massacre remained unknown for most of the 20th Century.  Frank Beacham (grandson of Honea Path’s mayor at the time) has written movingly about how in 1994 he came to learn the truth about the killings, killings which he acknowledges may well have been ordered by his grandfather.

Labor Day began as a celebration of the dignity of labor and while most Americans (including me) see the day foremost as the end of summer we ought to remember that the labor of men and women over the generations has help make this country great.  Some, like Cannon, Crawford, Davis, Knight, Peterson, Rucker and Yarborough gave their lives to make our nation better.

– Greg Wilsbacher

 

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A Fine Feathered Friend Farewell

Sarah Rice, one of our talented colorists, is leaving for Scotland to pursue her masters in film curation. We’re thrilled that she is going on to bigger and better things, but we are also extremely sad to see her go. To commemorate the occasion, we asked her to write about her favorite film: 

When presented with the idea of writing a blog entry about my favorite piece of film at MIRC before leaving my job behind to go devote the next year of my life to hunting the Loch Ness Monster, I honestly couldn’t think of anything.  Of course, I don’t mean this in a bad way.  For something to be special to you, it does not necessarily need to be…well, special.  It can also be extremely useless, random, and stupid.  To say I have become a connoisseur (though a somewhat amateur one) of the cute, weird, and always lovable cute-weird combo would be an understatement.  From puppies to human pincushions to playing Where’s Waldo with Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin, I could never- NEVER- chose a favorite.  In these final moments, the images are all a jumble – mixed in with each face and memory I am leaving behind.  Sometimes, when everything is lovely, sparkly and special to you, the thing that stands out the most is usually the dirtiest or ugliest one of the bunch . . . or not.  Sometimes, it just HONKS out to you.  I don’t know.  I hear something that somewhat resembles a quack, so I go with it.  I will be the first to admit, I am easily manipulated by even the thought of an animal doing basically anything.  Call it the “YouTube Generation” part of me.  I have no shame.  Basically, my overactive yet simple mind can think no more.  So on this day, I simply present the world with the very first memory I have of what was formerly known as the Newsfilm Library: A Mad Swan.  Yes, a mad swan is what I remember.  No, I can’t really explain why because I don’t know.  Something about a staged story of a fake poacher and a swan.  A very, very mad swan.  Like, really mad.  And if swans don’t really do it for you, the world famous squirrel and dog duo make a most welcomed appearance.  But I digress: Fox Movietone News Story 14-633 reels 1 and 2.  Title: Mad Swan in Tanglewood.  Date: May 22-23, 1932.  Location: Tanglewood, Long Island, New York.  These things will always compose some strange memory of a place far, far away with the acronym MIRC which kind of sounds like my boss’s name, Mark.

  

“DID YOU KNOW!?” fact time: Did you know that swans were almost extinct in the US during the 1930’s?  A lot of protection measures were apparently taken to preserve their population.  And there you have it:  Mad Swan in Tanglewood from 1932 is exactly what they did in that decade to protect the near extinct species of birds.  They purposefully pissed them off – until, on this fateful day, the swan was like, “Okay, one day I will come back in the form of millions and kill you all.  Prepare for swan war!  Also known from this day forth as SWAR WORLD I!”  Be warned.  I also learned when researching for this blog that swans do not attack humans without a given cause and that they have the ability to recognize a person that has been nice to them in the past.  Please, I beg you to remember this.  It could mean your life.  I have seen both the movie Birds AND countless hours of WWII material here at work.  I know.

When I brought this blog topic up with my coworker and good friend, Brittany, I mentioned this song was playing in my head when I came up with the idea:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Q-iCpanPiU

She thought it was weird that I did not associate the tune with what it really was: Stars and Stripes Forever.  In fact, when I hear said Stars and Stripes Forever, I always hear the lyrics to this song as if it existed before the well-known Sousa piece.  Maybe this makes me a bad American.  Maybe this means I am meant to go to Scotland.  Maybe this means I love ducks too much.  In fact, I was somewhat of a child prodigy when it came to drawing ducks.  At arts and crafts time in Kindergarten, the kids used to crowd around me while I would grab a crayon and go at it.  Drawing ducks.  Mostly the ones where you start out drawing a number 2 and then embellish from there.  God, I was good.  I still have a composition notebook full of them.  It has become somewhat of a relic – a family heirloom I will pass down to my uninterested, most likely non-existent children.

If I can trace some path from the origin of my duck love to the discovery of Mad Swan in Tanglewood, it would probably lead me to believe I was pre-destined to work at MIRC.  I don’t know.  This may be a bit of a stretch.  I also loved elephants as a child, but when has that ever come in handy?

Anyways, Wikipedia presents the shortened version of the lyrics as such:

Be kind to your web-footed friends

For a duck may be somebody’s mother

Be kind to your friends in the swamp

Where the weather is very, very damp

Now, you may think that this is the end…

WELL, IT IS!

And as abruptly as the song end, this ends.  For me and for all that eventually pass through these doors (but please, not the film).  I take my memories, swans and all.  Thank you MIRC for the web-footed and human-footed friends you have given me.  I will hold these thoughts close when I am crying on the floor of my apartment from all of the haggis, scotch, and seasonable depression I must suffer through on my island of rain.  The things we endure for higher education.

If I leave you with anything, please always remember:  A duck may be somebody’s mother.  Don’t question this.  Just accept it.

I did.  Now look at me.

Nevermind.  Disregard.

Sarah Rice

Watch the mad swan in the MIRC-DVR: mirc.sc.edu/fedora/repository/usc%3A2142

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UFO–Unidentified Fauxhoho Object

Here at MIRC we often come across bizarre bits of footage about which we would like to know more – this especially is one and that is why it was picked by our curators as the featured unidentified filmed object in this series.

In this blog we usually try and cover the information behind a piece of film that doesn’t get covered in the metadata attached to the film. Sadly, we have no more information about this film that what is mentioned in the metadata, however, we would love to know more. Therefore we show this to you and feature it here in the off chance that someone somewhere may be able to identify these children.

Filmed on September 7, 1929, although the reason behind the filming is also unknown, we do know that it took place in Central Park, NYC. If you turn the sound up you can hear the camera man instructing the children to laugh over and over again, although we don’t know why. We don’t think that this piece was ever used in any news story so perhaps it was for stock footage, or to be used cut into other stories for effect.

Can you help? Can you identify any of these children? Based on an assumption of their ages in 1929, they would be very mature adults today, well into their 80s. They may be able to identify themselves or their families might recognize them. Please do pass these images on to any families who lived in New York City in the 1920s and who had children who may have played in Central Park when this film was taken.

Watch the whole film here: http://mirc.sc.edu/fedora/repository/usc%3A1986

  

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Feature Video–8th August–Olympic Trials

Since the Olympics are everywhere at the moment, especially in my previous home town of London (England), I have finally succumbed to the pressure and decided to throw up some Olympic footage for you all. Being an archive, then of course it is some of the old stuff. I started looking for footage from the 1932 games, since they were held here in America, but didn’t find anything interesting. Some of the best stuff that I did find was from the 1928 games, that were held in Amsterdam, Holland. In fact, there were a few really good newsreels from this games, and I found it hard to choose which one to feature.  Although the one that I did pick for the feature video for this week is track and field events for the trials to decide who competes for the United States at the Olympics, the other stories that I found have also been digitized and they are all now available to watch in the repository: http://mirc.sc.edu

I have now learnt several facts about early Olympic games and about the trials that we feature here in our video.  The International Olympic Committee (IOC) have always kept copyright on all footage and stills from all of the Olympic Games over the years, therefore I was not surprised to see that we did not have any footage from the games themselves in our archive.  What little footage about the Olympics seems to consist of American athletes in training before the Olympics, or their return from them. You can watch official video from these games at the website of the Olympic committee: http://www.olympic.org/amsterdam-1928-summer-olympics

The 1928 Olympics, however, have turned out to be particularly interesting games to focus on, even more so because there were several things that occurred for the first time at these games that are now held to be common rituals of the Olympics.  Perhaps it’s not too late for me to get into the Olympics after all? Read on for more information about this feature video and the 1928 Olympics:

The 1928 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the IX Olympiad, was celebrated in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The only other candidate city for the 1928 Games was Los Angeles, which would host the Olympics four years later.

There were many firsts at this Olympic games, which we now take for granted as a part of the games that we all know and love. Most importantly, the Olympic Flame was lit for the first time during this Olympics and as well, the parade of nations started with Greece, which holds the origins of the Olympics, and ended with the host country, a tradition that continues today.

It was also the first Olympics that women were allowed to participate in track and field (despite objections from Pope Pius IX) and doubled the amount of women competing from previous games. Asian athletes won gold medals for the first time also. On a non-athletic note, it is interesting in that corporate sponsorship raised its head with the first appearance of the sponsor Coca-Cola at the Olympic games.

Other firsts include the athletics events being held on a 400-meter track, which later became the standard for athletics tracks. These games were also the first to feature a standard schedule of 16 days, which is still followed. Previously, competition was stretched out over several months. During the Games, there was no Olympic Village, and none was necessary, because many of the teams boarded their athletes on ships moored in Amsterdam Harbour.

I came across this interesting link online, from another archive, who have the diary of Louis Nixdorff, a member of the U.S. Lacrosse team. Nixdorff sailed over to Amsterdam on the S.S. Roosevelt, with other members of the American Olympic Teams, such as Johnny Weissmuller. It gives some background to this Olympic games, and just to being a member of an Olympic team and representing your country abroad in this time period. It makes fascinating reading with its P.G. Wodehouse air and the jaunty rhythm of life on board the ship combined with training for the big games is wonderful. His diary covers the actual games and his views on competing on an international level, with all the highs and lows on the field of play, for other team members not just his own sport. You can read it using the link below, it is a part of the archives of The National Museum of American History, one of the Smithsonian Institution museums located in Washington DC.

Diary of 1928 Olympics: http://americanhistory.si.edu/archives/d9443f.htm#weiss

The United States did very well at these games. American Olympic Committee president Gen. Douglas MacArthur stated, before the start of the 1928 Games: “We are here to represent the greatest country on earth. We did not come here to lose gracefully. We came here to win–and win decisively.”

His athletes did indeed deliver, with the U.S. winning eight gold medals and 6 silver medals in track and field, including the mens high jump, but victorious in only one individual running race (Ray Barbuti in the 400 meters). And in swimming, the U.S. got 6 gold medals with double gold performances from Martha Norelius, Albina Osipowich and Johnny Weissmuller, as well as diver Pete Desjardins.

In this feature video we see various American athletes in tryouts for the Olympics, running on a track in Philadelphia. The Olympic Trials were held in Cambridge for the third time in 1928, except for the 400m, 400m hurdles and decathlon, which took place in Philadelphia on July 3-5, two days prior to the main two-day meeting. The event was held over 3 days due to a torrential downpour and all the remaining athletes had to take an enforced rest because of dreadful weather conditions. On the 3rd day Doherty, Stewart, Berlinger and Churchill proved themselves for the team.

Ken Doherty (Cad AC), James Stewart (LAAC), Bernard Berlinger (Penn) and Thomas Churchill (Okla).

Between them the 4 qualifiers had lost 50 lb in weight over the 3 days. In the actual games in Amsterdam Doherty, Stewart and Churchill took places 3-5 , while Berlinger had a poor competition, and finished 18th. Stewart was allegedly the inventor of the straddle, which style he developed while jumping over barbed wire farm fences, while the burly (6’1/200) Berlinger was a star football player at Penn and won the Sullivan award as the outstanding amateur athlete in the USA in 1931.

 In the video we see contestants try out and footage includes Frank Cuhel (pictured left) from the University of Iowa, winning the heat in the 400 meter hurdles. He was the National Collegiate Low Hurdle Champ at the time and he went on to win the Silver medal at the Olympics.  Another athlete featured and shown in close up is that of F. Morgan Taylor. Taylor had broken a world record in the trials for the 1924 games and subsequently went on to win gold in those games in the 400m hurdles. Sadly, he only managed a bronze at the 1928 and 1932 games, despite setting another world record in the 1928 trials seen here.

Other decathlon contestants include Harry Flippen (NYAC) and A. J. Plansky (Georgetown University) putting the 16-pound shot, and an unknown athlete in the high jump – can you identify him?

I suspect that it could be University of Pennsylvania athlete Bernard ‘Barney’ Berlinger. After the Olympics, Berlinger went on to win the Penn Relays decathlon from 1929-31, and was AAU decathlon champion in 1933 and pentathlon champion in 1930. Competing for the University of Pennsylvania, he captained the track team his senior year, and then attended the Wharton (Business) School. His career was with the Quaker City Gear Works in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania, and he eventually retired as President of that company.

Is this Barney? Can you identify this athlete?

Watch the full video here: http://mirc.sc.edu/fedora/repository/usc%3A2113

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Celebrate the birthday of the Watermelon King!

Leo Altmayer, Watermelon King

The Watermelon King

All but forgotten today, Leo G. Altmayer was once Pittsburgh, PA’s “Watermelon King.” In 1934, Altmayer announced a new holiday, “Good Samaritan Day,” to be observed on July 29 every year. Not coincidentally, July 29th was also Altmayer’s birthday. For years he had been celebrating by distributing as many as 50,000 watermelons to a variety of organizations and institutions, including orphanages, hospitals, prisons, and the Boy Scouts.

Why watermelons? According to his obituary in The Pittsburgh Press, it was because he began work at the age of 13 in a glass factory, and he “never forgot how gratifying refreshment could be.” At the pinnacle of his watermelon-philanthropic career, Altmayer had 150 institutions on his birthday list, and he donated as many as 7500 melons to each one.

The launch of Good Samaritan Day was held at the Leech Farm tuberculosis hospital. The Pittsburgh Press counted “more than 20,000 men, women and children,” “several motion picture camera crews,” and even the famous author/broadcaster Lowell Thomas in attendance. Surprisingly, watermelon was not served.

Today’s feature seems to have been shot the day before (Saturday the 28th), when Altmayer was making the watermelon rounds. It’s a strange and fascinating film, for a number of reasons:

• Children are pretty irresistible. I’m also rather taken with the watermelons, which look so different from the ones we can buy in stores now.

Staged watermelon joke

The cameraman stages a watermelon joke

• It documents not only newsreel recording technology, but also filmmaking practice. You can see the cameraman coaching the kids to misbehave, rearranging them into more pleasing compositions, and feeding them dialogue. On a more distressing note, if you turn up your computer speakers, you’ll catch the behind-the-scenes construction of a watermelon joke at the expense of one of the African-American boys.

• Like many of the outtakes in the Fox collection, it includes bad takes and retakes. Sometimes the effect is comical, as when Altmayer wanders out of frame while struggling to deliver a line: “always remembering … be … good …” Other times it borders on the surreal, as when the children are prompted to repeat the mantra “Oh, I’m so tired, and so full.”

So far as I can tell, this newsreel was never released, and neither Altmayer’s birthday nor his Good Samaritan Day are celebrated today (a different holiday by the same name is observed on March 13). But I, for one, have marked the occasion–and shared the gratification of refreshment–by bringing watermelon to work.

– Heather Heckman

Watch the movie in the new MIRC Digital Video Repository!

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Visit the MIRC Digital Video Repository

The University of South Carolina’s Moving Image Research Collections is excited to announce the launch of its Digital Video Repository site: mirc.sc.edu

This pilot site provides access to more than two hundred moving images from a diverse set of collections, including the Fox Movietone News Film Collection, the Roman Vishniac Collection of cinemicroscopy, the Chinese Film Collection, and home movie collections dating back to the 1920s. And we’re adding more all the time!

MIRC will continue to develop the Repository this fall, enhancing user interactions and improving the digital preservation layer. Click here to learn more about the project timeline and here to learn about the related Fox Movietone News Digitization Project.

In the meantime, we invite you to explore the site, and ask you to bear with us as we continue to develop and test it. We look forward to your valuable feedback.

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