Gatherings with Grandparents


In the 1950’s, our dad, George K. Broatch, bought a home movie camera that used 8-mm film. We kids quickly learned to pretend we didn’t notice him filming our everyday activities. Predictably, we also couldn’t resist performing for the camera, and then waited impatiently while the film was being developed, to see ourselves on the “big screen”. Dad bought a noisy little Bell & Howell projector to show these family documentaries – video only, no audio.

People’s home movies are well known for being deadly boring to people outside the family. If you’re an “insider”, though, there is something wonderful –-  though also bit strange — about seeing yourself and your family engaged in activities several decades in the past.

For this Broatch-Johnston Family blog post, Val pieced together a series of short video clips featuring the grandparent generation on both sides of our family.  Of course, aunts, uncles, parents, and cousins also make an appearance. The film was shot between 1957 and 1959. All the settings are in Southern California, where our family lived for 10 years. We hope you enjoy these snippets of family history.

Mom’s parents, Dr. Harold Johnston and Vera (Snary) Johnston, who lived in Calgary, Alberta, visited our family often in Southern California. They drove down in Grandpa’s latest car, hauling their trailer, and stayed at nearby trailer parks designed for seniors. The video shows them visiting our house in Fullerton in April, 1957, including a trip to church on Easter. During their next visit, in 1959, Mom and Dad took them to Laguna Beach. The rest of us kids were in school, but our little sister Sheila got to tag along.

Grandma Jean (Lewis) Broatch traveled to Southern California in 1957 to visit her children and their families. Then 70 years old, she was among five people of her generation who showed up at a family barbecue at the Torrance home of her eldest child, Nelson Lewis Broatch, aka, “Uncle Lew”. Also attending were Jean’s younger sister, Cyrena Briggs; and Cyrena’s husband, Hector. Angus Campbell Broatch, Dad’s and Lew’s uncle, and his wife, Zelma, arrived a bit late and received a warm welcome at the front door.

In 1959, following Grandma Broatch’s death, Grandpa George (G.N.) Broatch, made a trip to Southern California to visit with the five of his and Grandma’s nine surviving children who called it home.

4 responses to “”

  1. When you think of it things haven’t changed too much in all these years. Kid , water , hot dogs and kittens are still a great mix. Thanks for the memories. Waiting for winter to come to an end here. -35c below here in Manitoba tonight. BRRR. Take care Kathy.

    • I feel like an old fogey when I say it, but really, if kids have water, sand, a few buckets, and other kids to play with, they can still have a great time.
      Stay warm!

  2. Loved the movies, Linda & Valerie. Great seeing aunt Vera and Harold when they were younger, Also to see that other people’s children are as rambunctious as ours were. ( bought a super 8 back about 1964 and yes I have a bunch of the silent movies. managed to get a few transferred to CDs and get a charge out of showing them to the family. Thank You so much for your blogs and the pictures. We real old people like to reminisce.

    • So does this old person! And, no matter what they say, your family loves seeing themselves in the 60’s and 70’s — hard
      to believe it’s 50-60 years ago!!

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