Story of the 1939 Pleasant Hill Film
In May of 1998, a box containing six reels of 16-millimeter film was found in the storage room of the Pleasant Hill Historical Society's Museum. The box was marked, ”Home movies of Pleasant Hill, 1939.” Upon opening the film canisters, it was apparent from the vinegary odor that the films were in the process of disintegrating! When the films were viewed, it was clear that a treasure had been found. The images on the film had to be saved! They were sent to be transferred to video with the instructions to save every image possible. The resulting transfer is even more than we dared to hope.
Other communities also appear in this film. For example, Greenwood and Strasburg are featured. The sixth reel was made a year later in l940 and includes Greenwood, Strasburg, and East Lynne. This reel evidently suffered from its storage more than the others. It was more brittle and a lot of its images had deteriorated. However, it was felt that an attempt should be made to save as much as possible. This effort has been put at the end of the 1939 movie. The main emphasis of this transfer is that of the 1939 production which includes five reels.
Chapter DS, P.E.O. sponsored the home-town movie in 1939. However, because the Production Company did not follow through with its contract, the P.E.O. ladies wound up shooting the film, borrowing local 16-millimeter movie cameras and becoming amateur cameramen themselves.
A pet parade and “kiddie contest” had been scheduled for one day during the “shoot” and children from Pleasant Hill and nearby communities in costume, with pets, decorated bicycles, wagons, doll buggies or floats were filmed taking part in the parade. The film was shot in newsreel style, and shows people exiting the churches and schools, and people taking part in civic and business activities. Local business proprietors and workers were shown in front of their store fronts.
The film was shown by the P.E.O. in the local movie theater and it was well received by folks anxious to get a look at themselves and their neighbors in the movies. The film was shown periodically for a few years and, at times, was narrated by Lester Bell. Unfortunately, no known written or audio record of Mr. Bell’s narration is in existence. It is reported that his presentation was very entertaining with humor and historical information blended together for maximum effect. The film was subsequently lost and not found until May, l998.
The film, after transfer to VHS Video, is approximately one hour in length.
We now sell the VHS tape for $16.00, as a fundraiser for our Museum operating expenses.
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