• 60-year-old home videos found in storage unit reunited with local family

    By: Christine McCarthy

    Updated:

    A local man is reliving his childhood memories through pictures and home videos taken at least half a century ago and recently discovered in a storage unit by a complete stranger.

    Bruce Webber was at work when he received a call about a post on Facebook. Someone had his found his family's home videos from the 1950s and 60s and wanted to reunite him with the precious memories.

    Webber combed through the images Wednesday, reminiscing about the days he and his brothers played outside.

    "This is all amazing stuff," Webber said. "It's the great old days. It's like Norman Rockwell all over again. It's the kind of era where kids got out and did stuff and played."

    It was Tom Yaz, a DJ and video archivist who had gotten ahold of the 8-millimeter film from his friend Luis Virella, who buys the contents of delinquent storage units at auction for resale. A member of the Webber family had apparently long forgotten about the items and hadn't paid the storage fee.

    Virella knew the unit contained some valuable tools, but he didn't realize he was about to find a piece of one family's history.

    "When I saw this, I was just more excited like, wow, this seems old," Virella said. "It wasn't all just junk to me or somebody else. It was meaningful. I'm grateful."

    Yaz began the hours-long process of digitizing each of the ten films for the Webber family, as he worked to track them down.

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    The Webber name and their former Norwood address was on the envelope that held the film canisters. Bruce's mother's handwriting was on the envelope; she was sending the film out to be transferred to VHS in 1987, months before she died.

    "VHS is no good anymore. It fades after 20 years," Yaz said. So if I have the master copies, these are going to get thrown away and they'll never reach the family."

    Yaz began making calls and searching online.

    "I called all the wrong people, and they hung up on me," Yaz said. "But then I got the right person through Facebook, and they were very, very happy."

    Webber expressed gratitude for Virella's and Yaz's efforts, adding that the film could've easily been thrown away.

    "This is all amazing stuff," Webber said. "They will be memories for my life and hopefully my kids' [lives]."

    The video comes at a time when Webber needed it. On the day Yaz reached out, Webber's longtime friend had gone into hospice care for an illness. On Wednesday, he passed away.

    "It was like a real bad day, and it put a ray of sunshine on it," Webber said. 

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