Your grandparents in their 20s – the magic of 8mm reels

By Jonathan Fouch

Who knew a dusty old film reel could unlock so much magic?

I was watching an 8mm reel of my grandparents. It was for the first time, because my family, like many families, either misplaced or tossed out the 8mm projector at some point in time. Instead, our memories were largely preserved on VHS tapes, which were easier to film and watch. 

For years, our 8mm reels remained sealed up, like treasures in a box I could not unlock. 

But eventually, as I started in my current line of work, I finally got the equipment to watch them.  

What struck me – more than anything – was seeing my grandparents moving, gesturing, smiling, and otherwise interacting with the world in their 20s. What a joy it was to watch them socialize, dance, and play with their young children.  As someone in their 30s, their youth was not too far removed from my own. I felt such a strong connection.

I’ve seen old pictures of them before. Pictures are great. But they don’t compare to video. A picture can tell you a thousand words, but a video can tell you much more.

My grandfather had a reel entitled “1969 Fishing Trip.” Prior to watching it, I had assumed it contained nothing extraordinary, probably just grandpa and a few buddies lounging around a lake, drinking beers, waiting for a fish to bite. Instead, it was him and his brother taking a small plane to a beautiful, remote river in the Canadian wilderness. 

I had never known him to have flown before; so I learned something new. And far from getting a couple bites, they brought in quiet a haul! It was an adventure, to be sure. I wish I had the chance to talk to him about it before he passed. 

Watching these old reels made me reflect on the passage of time and how moments come and go. Nothing is permanent, which makes each moment or era in your life more meaningful. Enjoy the seasons of your life, for nothing stays the same.  

If you have 8mm films laying around in your basement or closet, you should get them converted soon. They are getting brittle and degrading with each passing moment. Eventually, they will be unwatchable. Digitizing preserves them and gives you the ability to unlock your own family’s history.  

At my workshop, I have a modern machine that scans each slide and recomposes them into a digital movie file so you can watch your 8mm films on your computer or TV.  I would be more than happy to handle this for you.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out


Jonathan Fouch is the founder of History Creators. He has spent the greater part of his 9-year career helping families build their legacy through technology. You can read his full biography here.