“Lost Film” Resurfaces

In the 3 days since it was posted on YouTube, a “Lost Film” has rocketed around the internet.

Well, at least on Facebook groups filled with folks who grew up in Westport in the 1960s and ’70s.

The 4:30 color video — grainy and jerky, with scenes of teenagers, Weston center, downtown (including the old YMCA and Mobil station, now Vineyard Vines), a 1-light cop car and the 9-building, 1-story Staples High School — is made much more compelling by dream-like music. For those who lived here then, it’s almost like stepping into a time warp.

A scene from "Lost Film." The Main Street building on the left -- now the Gap -- was then a furniture store.

A scene from “Lost Film.” The Main Street building on the left — now the Gap — was then a furniture store.

It’s safe to assume that “Lost Film” — the YouTube title — means that whoever shot it finally found it, decades later.

The story is stranger than that.

It turns out that in 1970 or so, Staples Class of ’72 member John S. Johnson and 2 friends — Wayne Vosburgh and John Fisher — found the 16mm film on campus.

Because home projectors then were 8mm, they asked the librarian for help. She set them up in a room. They did not think much of what they saw.

For the past 46 years, the spool remained in Johnson’s dresser drawer. He sometimes thought about transferring the film to video.

Walking downtown, by Westport Taxi. It was located a few doors down from what is now Tiffany.

Walking downtown, by Westport Taxi. It was located a few doors down from what is now Tiffany.

Last week — before leaving on a trip to Westport — he dropped it off at a local shop to get it done.

After viewing the digitized version, his perspective changed. Johnson realized each scene went by too quickly to dissect and reminisce.

He slowed it down about 50%. Then he added the ethereal music.

The video says “circa 1967.” Johnson now believes it was made around 1969.

It shows teenagers in Westport in a very specific point in time.

But it’s also timeless.

(Hat tips: Bill Scheffler and Mary Gai)

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34 responses to ““Lost Film” Resurfaces

  1. It was so nice to see downtown the way it was when we moved to Westport back in 1966. All those Mom and Pop stores, before the big chain stores took over Main St and turned it from our cool little town, to “Main St. Anywhere”…We grew up living in Westport from 1966-67, then in Weston until 1969, then back to Westport. I recognized Weston Center right away! I especially liked seeing Staples the way it was when I went to school there. I look forward to seeing if anybody recognizes any of the people in the film, I did not recognize anybody, I must have been a few years younger…

  2. Johnny Johnson aka Hawkamouth was shocked when his draft number came up #1. Looks like Louie Reyes by the taxi stand.

  3. Kathy Stuart ( Alward) class of Staples 1970

    Those teenagers were my classmates of 1970 and the parking lot at Staples showed some of my friends cars… What an eerie view of our past. Thanks Mary Gay for posting this.

  4. i looked up “lost film” in youtube and also google and couln’t find a thing. Can someone please help with the link to the film. Thank you.

  5. i found it on your link of wordpress. thank you.

  6. It’s always fascinating how artifacts such as this will surface years later (as was the case with some vintage home movie footage of the Beatles’ last concert at Candlestick, which is part of Ron Howard’s new documentary).

    And if anyone should have vintage home movie footage of any of the legendary rock concerts at Staples in the 1960s, that is something I would be very interested in seeing!

  7. I recognized myself! Also some friends and their cars in the “student parking lot”. What a walk down memory lane!!

  8. Love the film..great to see “my”westport. Yeah class of 72!

  9. Fantastic! A real time capsule!

  10. Me, in the first still in the post! In front of Kleins. I worked in the toy dept after school!

    • Do you know the person filming?

      • I know his face and can’t tell you his name because I can’t remember it. From my class, always carried a camera (no kid had anything so expensive and sophisticated ) He was very blond and average height and I think his name had Scandanavian theme…Dan you were there do you remember the guy with the cam? Always in your face smiling…very blonde and I don’t remember him with long hair either…

  11. We didn’t live in Westport then. We got there in 1999 and left in 2008. I still consider it home – it’s where my family became a family. I wish we had been there then and I wish we could have stayed too. But life (and a job) got in the way. Thank you. I’m one of the class of 1972 people too. But from Manhasset. Still, I feel like I recognize some of those students.

  12. very cool to see- three years before I arrived, but brought back many memories. I loved the music choice as well.

  13. Marcy Anson Fralick Staples Class of 1970

    Most of the kids in this video were the class of 1970, and since it seems like winter, I would guess it was shot in late 1969 or early 1970. I recognize almost all of the kids in the film, as well as the cars in the parking lot at Staples. I loved seeing the old Staples of my memories, downtown as I remember it, and the kids I went to school with. A very nostalgic film!

  14. I was not in Westport at that time, and I’m seeing that a lot of what I saw was surprisingly the same – cars and people jostling for space, same old street signs, a shockingly contemporary police uniform (today’s police uniforms seem more suited to this 60’s time!), building size and feeling. Of course, there is so much that has changed in Westport, but not so much in the downtown area.

    • Frederic, my family moved here in 1963 when I was in 4th grade and I have lived here as an adult for a number of years–and I agree with your assessment.

      And, I posted this before quite a while back but, if you hadn’t seen it, I thought you would appreciate it: I had a conversation in the administrative offices at Yale with a woman who learned I was from Westport. She immediately remarked: “What a lovely town it used to be” and said that she used to live here. Unfortunately, in her opinion, the town got too developed and there was just too much traffic and congestion–so she had to move out.

      That conversation took place my freshman year of college–1971–and the woman had moved away from Westport around 1954.

      • Sorry for the late post/reply: I know exactly what you mean Mr.Cantor. My 80 year old (?) babysitter around 1970 — told me that she had been to our property MANY times as a small child in a horse & carriage: as our house had been built in the former Cherry Orchard at the bottom of Hockanum Road on Morris Ketchum Jesup’s Hockanum estate which had been designed/landscaped by Frederick Law Olmsted. Even our driveway was a former carriage road/part of the network of carriage roads designed by FLO. She said MKJ (& later his daughter?) opened his property to the public/Westporters & visitors every Sunday.

        Btw: the name of this beautiful soul was Mrs.Brown (or Braun?) & she lived in that brown (cedar shingled) wooden house on Main Street (opposite the little cottage in a previous 06880 post) — from where she could walk to town for her groceries etc. A lot of elderly people lived there and so did not require a car.

  15. Maybe some of the readers who moved here after the late 70’s may understand now why we talk about the way Westport was so strongly. Of course it’s good now but the conversation has been what it was vs now. We miss the old stores and surely don’t want to forget them …you will too in 30 years 🙂 all relevant

  16. I’m guessing the mid 1960’s. No cars newer than 65 or 66. Also the phone numbers were CA7-****. That was CApital 7 prefix.

  17. Margaret Hart Rynshall

    Seeing that timeframe again is surreal. The music definitely adds to the eerieness. I’m always shocked to see movies. We hardly ever documented our lives then, unlike today. How fabulous you recognized yourself, Cristina! Kinda spooky.

  18. I also think it’s from about ’67. The clothes and hair are right before things really started loosening up in ’68. And the guy with the round sunglasses in front of Westport taxi? It looks like Chris Snow, class of 69 or 70. I also think I saw Letha Mills. a cheerleader, class of 70, in the cluster of kids at the end of the film. If only we could tag the film the same way we can tag still pix on Facebook…

  19. The motorcycle cop writing the ticket on Main Street is my father: Edward J. Grant

    • I am glad to know someone recognized the officer on duty , wow so long ago… He sure looked sharp in his uniform performing his duty!
      Who dropped all those blue papers at his feet?

  20. Lauren de Bruijn

    This footage is reminiscent of Ang Lee’s movie: The Ice Storm. It’s uncanny! I think this story is totally amazing!! Thank you.

  21. It looks to be around 1965-67. Rob Foley (the guy in front of Westport Taxi) looks exactly the same as I remember him. We graduated from Shapley School in Ridgefield in 1965. All the other footage brings back fond memories too.