American Profiles: The Man with the Video Camera.

Back in the early nineties, there was a man that would frequent all of the events in the small community where I grew up. He would show up with his handheld video camera of the era, and with his old mother in tow would film all of the events without saying a word to anyone. To describe their looks, I would not be out of line to say they looked like traveling gypsies. Always carrying bags, both of them, and always filming.

The local festivals were always a sure bet to see the camera duo. As kids, we joked that there was probably not even a tape in the camera. But what great fodder those festivals would have been. The Wild Turkey Festival in the mid nineties would be YouTube gold in the age of digital media. This man was ahead of his time.

Once he showed up to my small county elementary school and was filming our recess. It was cold, our breath hung lifelessly above our heads as we played a cold game of basketball. The man and his mother watched the entire recess with their camera. The mother always wore the same tired expression, and the man always held his eye tight to the viewfinder. At some point, our teachers intercepted the man and told him he had to leave. Videotaping an elementary school recess is not in good taste, luckily for them it was then and not today, as they would’ve been locked up. They walked away from the playground in the cold air, as black soot from the coal fired furnace rained down softly on the basketball court and our hats.

Later that day on my bus ride home I saw them both walking on the side of the road back to edit film I suppose.


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