I came across these reels a few months ago while searching (in vain) for something else. I knew generally what was on them, though I hadn’t actually seen them projected onto a screen for about 20 years. It turned out that my local camera shop was able to convert them into DVD format for a reasonable sum, so I decided to give every member of my immediate family a copy of the DVD as a Christmas present. These are the only motion pictures from the Detroit house that I’m aware of, and most of the family had no idea I’d ever shot this footage, so I knew it would come as quite a surprise to them.
The fact that this film was shot in 1984 is significant. A few months after this was made, we moved out of that house and left Detroit for Roseville, just a few miles north of Detroit’s city limits. This was the only home most of us kids had ever known, so leaving it was a sort of quiet trauma for many of us. This film, then, shows it the way it was right before we moved out.
This is my youngest sister, Helene, at the tender age of 17. She is the only person I actually focused the camera on for any of my filming. Aside from a fleeting glimpse of one of my brothers, the rest of the film consists of me walking from room to room in the house, shooting out of some upper-story windows, and walking around the back yard.
Although there were various rose bushes around our back yard, this one was the champ. It was abused terribly; on at least one occasion, it was cut right down to ground level only to bounce right back. It would begin blooming with big, puffy, pink roses in early spring and typically continue blooming right on through to about the third major freeze of the fall.