Preserve This!

Things like this get me really excited, as I’ve probably mentioned before. It’s not that I’m particularly amused by the particular episode of Mayberry RFD, which was pretty much garbage. But I am amazed that the video preserves a full half-hour of TV, commecials, “brought to you by” tags, and the rest, pretty much as it originally aired. It’s really difficult to find material like that from the pre-VCR era (and to be honest, I’m not 100% certain what the source of this type material is, but this YouTube user has lots of it). The only thing that seems to be missing is the voiceover announcer pushing whatever show comes next “over most of these CBS stations.”

The idea of preserving material like this–things that were never meant to be saved and generally weren’t saved–is a large part of why I became an archivist. Sure, you could watch this episode on DVD and get really nice picture quality and no commercials, but viewing it from this primary source gives so much more of a feel for what it was really like watching the show as it originally aired. I’m similarly fascinated by the Room 222 DVD release. Apparently, there were no really good masters available for this series, and the DVD release was assembled from a variety of 16mm syndication prints and whatever other source material Shout Factory could get its hands on. It’s not clean and pretty, but it is the way I remember watching reruns of the show as a kid–pops, scratches, wheezing theme music, and all.

And I guess this is why I keep most of the archives of this site availble online as well. Many of my friends have opted to remove some of all of their content over the years, and that’s a decision I respect and understand completely. Perspectives change, as does one’s comfort level with how much information to share. And I’ve removed some of the material from this site as well; the bar and sex club reviews and the “guide to San Francisco” from 1996 are long gone (although I have unpublished copies). But most of the material that has ever appeared here is still here. And even though I’ve contemplated edits over the years, it’s important to me that the majority of the site continues to be here, if not necessarily in its original graphic format, which is something of an unrealistic goal in a dynamic medium like this (although, again, I do have archived copies).

It’s not that I believe anything specific I’ve presented here since 1996 is do good or so important as to require preservation. I’m not that conceited, really. But I think it’s important that some personal websites of the 1990s and 2000s be preserved in a relatively intact state just to show what they were like and the (changing) types of contact that were presented on them through the years. And I guess I’m a relatively good candidate just because I’ve been doing it longer than most people.

This is a lot like my take on historic preservation; I tend to think the mundane, everyday structures and neighborhoods (supermarkets, taxpayer strips, and even tract housing) where people actually spent time and lived their lives should in many ways be more important preservation targets than grand structures, mansions, opera houses, etc., that most people have never even visited. I know that an occasional building will have to be lost or that an occasional journal entry (or even an entire website) will sometimes have to be be purged. But it’s nice to have some relatively intact specimens as reference points, and I guess I’m volunteering my site as one of those.

If only I could get a tax credit…

3 thoughts on “Preserve This!

  1. I’m glad you brought this up. I was thinking the same thing several years ago, when I watched a 1969 episode of The Hollywood Palace at the Museum of Television & Radio in Beverly Hills. The tape they had included groovy cigarette commercials and network promos. Stuff like that really gives you a lot of context.

  2. With FF the Tivo and remotes that change the channel at every commercial it looks like we’re looking at a lost art. I grew up a little after MRFD and now the ads at that time resonate with me as much as the show (If not more). Madge of Palmolive is just as relevant as Gilligan.

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