Showing posts with label house party. Show all posts
Showing posts with label house party. Show all posts

Friday, December 23, 2016

Grand Falls-Windsor House Parties - 8mm Film Reels

When I started to work on digitizing the 8mm reels from the Grand Falls-Windsor Heritage Society, I expected to see formal community events and home videos with families and children. Among the mix of Church Lads Brigade reels and other footage from the Grand Falls-Windsor area, were four films that showed house parties were people were drinking alcohol, laughing, and playing pranks. These four films show a wonderful side of the personalities of these people and a relaxed party atmosphere that you usually do not see.

When I first set up the projector, the first reel that I played was black and white footage from the late 1940's showing a house full of people sitting around drinking and joking with the camera. After watching all the reels, this is still my favorite. Two men performed some sort of ritual alternating between bowing to a crate of liquor bottles and taking sips from their drinking glasses. A man in a hat and an Anglican clerical collar reads from a book. He is later seen asleep with his arms crossed and a sign reading "not dead but interred" laid on his chest. Another man wearing round glasses, a hat, and a fake beard, sticks out his stomach to portray a character. The photographer, Albert Hillier, was a member of the Northcliffe Drama Club for 52 years, and while they are not performing in the footage, you can clearly see that his group of friends had a theatrical persuasion. I am curious to know if the man dressed as an Anglican priest, was an actual priest or was he in costume.

This reel also contained scenes apart from the house party. We see young boys playing outside with a toy car and a set of wheels. There is a woman in an apron looking out a window and making gestures to the camera. Two men are outside with a car and truck with a logo on the drivers side door. Another woman joins the men and they dance before the reel ends. Do you recognize the houses in this area?

The next film is very dark, but there is a lot of laughter in there. The footage starts upside down, which may be a hint that this was filmed towards the end of a party. While it is dark and out of focus in parts, there are some good shots of peoples faces, so some may be recognizable.

In the last set of reels I shared, there was one film that showed title cards relating to the footage he shot, some of which we have. The next film has eight title cards, though some words are out of frame. One title, that we don't have the relating film, reads "Guilty: Sergt. LeMoine Sews Lieut. Lane's Coat Sleeve." Another, which may help identify one of the individuals says "A Corner Brook Photographer." These title cards are followed by a short clip showing a small gathering. The party takes place in the same house as some of the other reels, and a man pours the guests drinks from a jug.

The final reel in this set once again shows a house party with people sitting around talking and drinking, while a man is playing guitar. We then see a sleeping guest with a doll laid next to him, and another man stands over him reading from a book. I would love to hear what he is reading, maybe funeral or marriage rites? We then see three men in standing in front of the camera. The man in the center holds a funnel to his mouth while the other two pour in liquid. The guests pass around a balance toy and joke with each other. The camera returns to the sleeping man, who now has the balance toy stood up on his chest. The camera pans down to his feet and he is now wearing women's shoes. Next the camera shows a women setting down plates on a table full of food and desserts. The camera pans around the room to show the guests standing around eating, drinking, and having a good time. Although the footage is dark, in this film and the previous, there appears to be a projector set up on one of the tables, which makes me think that this may be Albert Hillier's home. 

I hope you enjoyed this look at house parties in the late 1940's. Do you recognize any of the individuals or locations in these films? Contact me by email

- Kelly