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I’ve never liked Father’s Day. My father died unexpectedly when I was seven, and I’ve felt cheated ever since. I could happily wipe that holiday off my calendar.
This year, however, marking Father’s Day is putting a smile on my face. Recently, my cousin Bob Goodlett had some iconic family video digitized to share with relatives near and far. Today, I’m sharing my Father’s Day joy with you.
It turns out that my Uncle Leonard Fallis, husband of my dad’s older sister, Virginia, had an 8mm movie camera as early as the 1940s. I don’t recall ever having seen the following clip before Bob shared it with us last month. But there’s my father, before the war and all the horror he witnessed, strutting around his family’s property in Lawrenceburg, Ky., in his University of Kentucky ROTC uniform, being silly, mugging for the camera, while his faithful dog, Mike, gambols at his feet.
The youngster at the beginning of the clip is my dad’s nephew Robert Dudley “Sandy” Goodlett, who died April 26, 2021. Readers of The Last Resort may remember references to “Sweetpea” visiting the boys’ camp. At the end of the clip, you’ll see my dad’s nephew Davy Fallis, aka “Sluggo,” who died March 7, 2018. One of the letters that Pud wrote to Davy and his parents while at basic training in Texas is included in Appendix A of The Last Resort.
During a Goodlett family reunion in 1984, I remember being emotionally walloped when one of the Fallises played some of their archival movie footage that, at the time, I had no idea existed. By that summer, my dad had been gone 17 years. Suddenly, on a small screen in a northern Kentucky hotel gathering space, there he was in an intimate, playful moment with my mother, shortly before they were married. I gasped, and then I sobbed. If they played more old footage of either of my parents that evening, I missed it. (That’s Davy Fallis again, chaperoning the scene.)
In the following clip, that footage is preceded by images shot on their wedding day, December 27, 1947. Lawrenceburg natives may recognize several in the wedding party: Lin Morgan Mountjoy, Bobby Cole, George McWilliams Sr., George McWilliams Jr., Vincent Goodlett, Ann McWilliams, Mary Jane Ripy, Ann Dowling, and Madison Bowmer (of Louisville).
In this era of cell phones and selfies and images and video shared instantly with the world, it may be hard to imagine what it means to me to have this rare video of my dad. I have only a few memories of him from my childhood. So seeing him move—his mannerisms and his interactions with others—makes him real. It confirms what others have told me in recent years about his sense of humor and how much fun he was to be around. And, of course, it confirms all that I missed by losing him at such a young age.
I am deeply grateful to Vince Fallis for preserving the original 8mm reels for more than 70 years and to Bob for making the video more widely available.
This Father’s Day, I am thinking about playful Pud, and I am having a good day.
The only other video of Pud that I’m aware of was shared with me by Bob Cole, Bobby Cole’s son. Appropriately, my dad is fishing. You can watch it here.
6/19/2021 07:23:46 pm
What a gift that keeps giving every day of your life! While viewing the clips, I could feel the family bond and love. Thanks for sharing this bounty of joy and the special tribute to your Dad!
6/20/2021 06:50:10 am
6/20/2021 10:00:27 am
Vince, the video images of your dad, Leonard, presenting his still regal but ailing wife, Virginia, at the 1984 reunion have stayed with me. Len seemed the most youthful "adult" in the room. Here's to that entire generation, especially the dads, whom I hardly knew.
6/20/2021 08:14:04 am
A gift from the gods, Sallie, and a much better Father's Day tribute than a store-bought card.
6/20/2021 09:15:08 am
The future they face hangs heavy in our viewing, but they wear it lightly. Such dignity and yet such relaxed youth. Your mother, of course, is astonishingly beautiful---but so are their friends and family. What a great peak into their lives. I lost my mother when very young. Photos of her--I wish there were videos!--send me into long sagas of her imagined life. But here you have a glimpse. Even the long gone but very alive puppy.
6/20/2021 12:07:32 pm
Dear Sallie, thanks for sharing with us on father's day, and reminding us to be thankful for all those who matter in our lives, if even for too short of a time.
6/23/2021 05:21:29 pm
Thank you for sharing. It gives my heart joy to see chips from bygone days. Your Dad reminds me of Bill and Mac. Don’t forget the chicken and Mike. Blessings, Anne
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