It was like meeting an old acquaintance you hadn’t seen in a long time: someone who reminded you of a different time and place and brought a smile to your face and warmth to your heart.
It was among my late mother’s last possessions and I recognized it as soon as I saw it — a silver, slightly tarnished metal spool with 16mm black and white movie film wound tightly around it.
Decades ago I’d asked my mom what it was. Her face broke into a smile when she told me: “Oh, that’s a movie of the day your father and I were married.”
I’d never actually seen the movie since 16mm projectors were hard to come by. But that was then and this is now — so I found a local media company and had it digitized…
When I finally got it back, it was emotional magic. I watched intently as modern-day pixels mimicked the silver halides of the old film to conjure up moving shadows of a rare sunny and windy day 65 years ago at Glasgow Cathedral. It was my parents’ wedding day, two years before I even existed.
I recognized the long-departed faces of grandparents, great aunts, and great uncles. I saw much younger versions of relatives still living today.
At the center of it all, I saw two people with their whole lives in front of them and full of hopes and expectations for the future. It showed a simpler time before the stresses of life resulted in heartache and divorce.
Why are these faint, ancient shadows seemingly so important to me now?
If it were just a random film, it would still be an interesting insight into what my hometown was like almost three-quarters of a century ago.
But much beyond that, it was (and is) my family.
It’s a warm and emotional connection to the people I once knew and loved and who loved me back. It’s the event and the relationship that was at the root of my earthly existence.
It could also be because the film shows plainly that at one time my parents were indeed happy together, and what child doesn’t want to know that?
In her final years, my Mom didn’t understand why I wanted to keep her old photographs and movies. I fear that if I hadn’t spoken up, they would have gone into the garbage.
I wanted them because they connect me to my family and to my history. And, although I’ve learned not to live in the past, it would be wrong to forget it — because, for better or for worse, it made me who I am.
In order of appearance in the film:
– Fiona Turnbull (nee Sadler) (first cousin, once removed)
– Pat Newman (first cousin, once removed)
– Ian Currie (uncle-in law)
– Margaret Currie (nee-Ferguson, Mom’s youngest sister and married to Ian)
– Margaret McCormick (great aunt & Fiona’s mother)
– Agnes McCormick (great aunt who taught me to knit at 4 years old)
– Edward Sadler (great uncle-in-law & Fiona’s Dad)
Mom (Edith Cadzow – rolling up in the black Rolls Royce)
– Archie Ferguson (my grandfather and Edith’s Dad – helping her out of the Rolls – we lost him when I was 5)
Coming out of the church
– Edith and William Cadzow (Mom and Dad)
Additional people in the Wedding party line ups:
Nigel Cadzow (uncle, Dad’s brother)
Mary Cadzow (nee McCormick, grandmother, Dad’s mother)
George Cadzow (my grandfather, Dad’s father)
Elizabeth Ferguson (nee Goldie, grandmother, Mom’s mother)
… And a supporting cast of hundreds!
The poor harried wedding assistant charged with keeping eveyrone where they should be and my Mom’s veil from flying away! You may notice that after she got my Mom’s veil under control, she crouched down behind her and my grandpa to hold the veil down while photos were being taken!