My mother has finally taken the home movies and had them placed on videotape and on my parents’ 50th anniversary we watched the footage of their wedding day. Part of it was shot by a cousin, who seemed a) entranced with cars and b) indifferent to people’s heads. “I guess we know why he lost that football scholarship to Auburn,” my father remarked.
When my sister and I were kids, we watched these movies a lot and the family lore is that I kept asking plaintively when I would show up. My sister was my grandparents’ first grandchild and just about the most beautiful child who ever drew a breath. A stranger once took her photograph in the supermarket and gave it to my mother. She also was always dressed exquisitely, in dresses that she kept immaculate. Add in the fact that my family left Atlanta when I was only 2, and the disproportionate footage is logical.
As an adult, I found I was rooting for myself not to show up. I remember me and I know what I looked like. (Not unlike Augustus Gloop, in the original “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” drawings, sad to say. Same mouth, for sure.) But how heavenly it was to see my mother’s mother, who was probably my age on her daughter’s wedding day. Mary Moore Mabry, aka “Big Mama,” died in 1978. She was a great beauty, but the camera caught something more — her grace, her very Southern charm.
It also was fun seeing my very young, very thin parents, often with cigarettes. I especially liked watching my mother adjust my sister on the rocking horse, a burning cigarette dangling close to my sister’s hair. And there was my sister’s dance recital, when she wasn’t quite 4. Her costume was one of the most prized outfits in our “dress-up” box, a unitard with sequins and a tutu. Do little girls still play dress-up?
If you could uncover a cache of video from your family, who would you want to see, at what age? Or is there a home movie that you particularly cherish?