It was a simple minute-and-a-half color home movie of people ice skating in Springfield’s Snyder Park in 1958 that Dick Hatfield, who shot the film, was going to throw it out.
“I thought to myself, nobody’s going to want to see this,” the Springfield native said.
He thought twice, set music to it and posted the transfer to social media where it scored hits on YouTube and Facebook, pleasantly surprising him.
Now Hatfield and Brian Traylor, owner of archival film and video transfer service Ohio Home Movies, are on a quest to find and preserve other old films of Springfield from the 1930s through the 1960s in hopes of a starting a new YouTube channel devoted to the subject.
“Dick can close his eyes and remember how it was, but the rest of us have to see the images,” said Traylor. “It’s not just about the good old days, but in remembering as a community how it was.”
For Hatfield, being young in Springfield in the 1950s was like a personal version of “Happy Days.” He’s kept the nostalgia alive over the years through events, books and even games.
“I always had an interest in the cool things we did in the ‘50s,” he said.
Long before anybody could shoot a video on their phones and immediately post to social media, Hatfield bought an eight millimeter Kodak Brownie camera to make his own movies.
Film was expensive and took two weeks to get processed. Hatfield and friends would go downtown on a Sunday and stage their own bank robberies – in the name of art, of course.
“Downtown was barren on a Sunday, nothing was open,” he said. “You were lucky to find a gas station open. We would stage a bank robbery at the old Guardian Bank foyer with guns and masks, hopping into fast cars.”
His only regret was not panning the camera across to get more of the city as it was.
He filmed a production called “Teen Town,” and a group of guys who got together for football games on Sundays in Snyder Park, where the cars were bigger stars than the players. Hatfield said it looked like a cruise-in.
Hatfield and Traylor are hoping others around the city have closets, garages or basements hiding treasures in film canisters.
One of the challenges is much of the subject matter was of people in their own yards and homes or on the dreaded vacation films and not so much of the city. But you never know.
Only about 25 percent of his transfers are eight millimeter; the majority are video tape transfers.
“Anybody in the city who has films from long ago should bring it in. People want to see it again,” Traylor said.
For Hatfield, it’s about showing how fun and energetic downtown Springfield was in those years before it changed in the 1970s
“Will Springfield’s story live on? People may have those out there and we hope we can find them,” he said.
Anyone who has home movies of Springfield from the 1930s through the 1960s can contact Traylor at ww.ohiohomemovies.com.
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