Last week while in Minnesota, we watched home movies from Jason’s life growing up. Gathering the family, darkening the room, then turning on the loud, rattling projector trigger nostalgic feelings of yesteryear. It was fun to watch some earlier years that I hadn’t seen before, movies from the early ’60s when Jason was very young, filmed mostly by his mom.
In the movies, we saw a lot of people who are no longer with us. And we watched holidays and weddings and birthdays. Some of the Super 8 movies were just for fun, like when the killer garden hose attacked and when they had lawn chair races with stop motion filming.
We saw Jason’s family home growing up, his playmates, and a lot of relatives. One friend we saw was an exuberant young man who looked like a fun and happy friend. The next day, we visited him at work in a nearby town. It was incredible to jump ahead almost 40 years and see the very same person standing there, an older version, but clearly the same fun and happy friend.
We also went by the two houses where Jason grew up. The movies had taken place in the rooms of these houses, and it was captivating to see in person where the scenes had played out. One time, when we drove by the second house where they’d moved when Jason was five, I saw some people out in the yard and I wanted to go talk to them. But Jason didn’t want to, so he kept driving. But as we drove away, I kept at him, trying to convince him to stop. He gave in and circled around and went back. Getting out first, I went to the woman and kids at the side yard and said hello, and that my husband had grown up in their house. Then a little old lady shuffled out of her house next door to see what was going on. When we told her why we were there and who we were, her face lit up, she cried out Jason’s nickname from his youth, and grabbed him into a tight bear hug. The owner of the house offered to give us a tour, and though hesitant at first to impose, we accepted and had a wonderful time seeing the place. She gave the tour, but then Jason told the stories behind different details that no one else there knew, like the pull-down staircase his great Uncle Owen had built in the upstairs hallway going up into the attic. They were almost straight up and down, like a ladder, they were so steep. Those steps got you up there, but it wasn’t easy. At the head of the main stairs, there’s a big thick carved wooden post. Jason told us how that came to be there: an old farmhouse was being torn down, and in the ’60s it was the trend to salvage and reuse the weathered wood. This old post was put in during a remodel when they took out the half wall along the top of the staircase and used the old farm wood to make an open spindled wall. Again, Uncle Owen was probably wielding his hammer for that project. As the saying goes, “Any Norwegian with a hammer thinks he’s a carpenter.” Well, he did well enough, because all these years later, Uncle Owen’s work is still standing.
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