Christmas Cousins on Super8

Everyone has different memories about family traditions at Christmas.  I think it has to do with what your family was doing when you were 6 to 12 years old.  In my family we'd go to visit my grandparents in Milwaukee.  Santa would come so we'd open our gifts first thing, then church and then presents from Mom & Dad and G&G in the afternoon before a nice Christmas dinner.

But Christmas Eve we would load up the family car(s) and head across town to have our Christmas with my Mom's cousins and their families.  A very few short scenes of these gatherings were caught by Eliot's movie camera and are presented here (well really on youtube) in their glorious Super8 definition.  (Have you ever seen super 8 film?  Each frame is about as big as this [    ].  It's amazing they scan as well as they do (thanks Home Movie Depot.)



Christmas Eve 1976 - We were at Judy's house in Elm Grove.  Jon and I were loving the ping pong table.  Jon actually misses the ball, re-swings and manages to connect the second time.  Bob introduced us to a paper football field made out of tape on the basement floor, which Eliot recreated in our basement when we got home.  This particular year we drove back to Green Bay on Christmas Day.  I left some footage of Bert's blue LTD and our '72 Gran Torino wagon.  That was a sweet car!



Christmas Eve 1977 - This party was at Ruth and Marlin's basement.  It looks like Scott was there too because I see two tall guys with dark hair along with Bob, but we never really get a look at their faces.  Everybody was blinded by the 4-floodlight system we had on the movie camera.  Sometimes it's a little overkill and it washes out the faces, but you needed something to shoot in anything but daylight.  I left some footage of Eliot's new suit the next day to show of his rockin' 70s sideburns.  Heck, those Burnsides would have been rockin' in the 1870's as well!



Christmas Eve 1978 - We are back at Judy's, but now upstairs instead of the basement.  Lots of good shots of people here.  An early girlfriend of Bob's makes an appearance here and notably she's neither tall or blond.  What's up with that?  It's kind of funny to see Dave and Ruth hamming it up at the end.



Christmas 1981 - We changed the pattern this year.  Judy and Dave and Ruth and Marlin came up to Green Bay.  I can't remember if they brought Big Red, the Irish Setter, but I know he visited once as well.



Christmas 1983 - In Green Bay again.  Pretty much the same group, but college man, Bob, has joined us.  This one has some good scenes with Ruth and Bert playing some pinball, Bonnie & Bert's matching Christmas dresses, Bonnie and Judy dancing in the kitchen and Larry and Ruth taking turns on the piano.  Unfortunately we didn't get video of cars breaking down (it was really cold) or Chris getting left at the motel by mistake, but that happened on this trip too.


And that's pretty much it for the super8 footage.  A couple of notes:  1) This crew (besides a few husbands) all are descendents of Frank Hiebsch.  Ruth and Bert were his daughters.  2) It's not really super8, it was called single8, a Fuji format that was slightly different, but the finished movie played on super8 projectors and finally, 3) I see at least two instances where bows from presents are put on someone's head, an Elfner Christmas tradition to this day.  Love to all, Eric

Hold on!  Stop the presses.  I was about to send this to everyone and I remembered some older clips we have from my grandparents' 8mm camera.  Let's rewind about thirty years back to the 1950s.



According to Bonnie, this clip is from about 1950 at Silver Lake near Wautoma, WI.  The Millers and the Hansens would take an annual summer vacation and rent a cottage somewhere.  This year was in Wautoma, other years on Pewaukee Lake.  Not sure how much of this was actual frolicking or just mugging for the camera.  And who's that kid at the end?  It probably isn't, but I'm going to pretend it's the boy who coined the phrase, "Da Bod'a Dem?" - A beloved family phrase to this day - evidently in discussing where the Miller girls went to school, the boy asked that follow-up question (the both of them?)



And finally, this very short clip from 1955 at my grandparents' home in Lombard, IL.  We see the Hansen car (a 1953 Ford), the Miller car (probably a 1952 Chevy, perhaps 51 or 53) and Bonnie's bike (We're pretty sure that's a 1954 Schwinn, and it is still ride-able at the cottage!)  At the very end, we see a brief glimpse of Bert walking down the driveway with her father and step-mother, Frank and Clara Hiebsch.  Cool!

(Car identification by Eliot.  Thanks, Dad.)


Eric Elfner
April 2011


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