When our loved ones pass away, we’re left with memories and photos of them. Sadly, sometimes it’s only photos we have if they leave while we’re too young. Dakota Deady’s father, Jones, was only a toddler when his dad passed away. So, he was only left with vague memories and one photo of him. But thanks to Dakota and two 8mm film reels he found, Jones was able to see his dad for the first time. In this emotional video, Dakota shared the story, the footage he found, and his dad’s reaction.
Jones’s father, Beverly, was born in 1925. He was an Air Force gunner pilot and he fought in the Korean War, so Jones didn’t see much of him when he was a child. Beverly’s wish had always been to settle and become a bartender, and it finally happened after leaving the military. Sadly, it didn’t last long. He drowned while waterskiing in 1957. He was only 32, and his two sons were only toddlers. The most vivid memory Jones has of the tragedy is a neighborhood boy rushing into their home and telling him about it.
Due to Beverly being a soldier and dying very early, Jones doesn’t have many memories or photos of him. He only has one old black-and-white Air Force portrait of his dad he’s kept on his dresser for years. But Dakota found something more. Working on one of his projects, he found two reels of 8mm film in a box labeled “Beverly Children.” Inspecting the reels more closely, he saw a man who looked remarkably like his dad. He figured that it must be his grandfather Beverly, so he had the films digitized. Thankfully, they were already developed so they didn’t deteriorate too much with time.
After having the reels digitized, Dakota played the videos to his dad. It was filmed less than a year before Beverly passed away. Jones seemingly stayed tough while watching it, but I think he was just overwhelmed. “I’m pretty well choked up right now,” he says, and you can almost feel all the emotions. “I’m this age and now I’m just looking at my father for the first time.” I was in tears just watching this, and I can only imagine how Jones felt.
Found films often hold real treasures. Sometimes they help us discover amazing photographers like Vivian Maier, Masha Ivashintsova, or unknown masters. And other times, they are an emotional treasure that brings us closer to our roots and gives us new “memories” of long-lost loved ones. So, take photos and videos of your friend and family. Print the photos of them that you love, even crappy ones. And if your parents are still with you, go give them a call and tell them you love them.