A long lost treasure

Susan Manzke
Now Media Group

When I was a kid, our house never had a closet. The best my sister and I had were free-standing wardrobes with sliding doors. These held our clothes. Many times they also held us when we were playing hide-and-seek.

Besides storing clothes, closets are a great place to put things when you need them out of the way. I've done that too many times, filling them with boxes and whatnots.

During a fit of spring cleaning earlier this year, I started emptying a closet. Most of the things in the boxes were recycled to Good Will, but not all. When I got down to the bottom of one box, I found a roll of exposed 35mm film.

'I wonder what's on this,' I said out loud.

Most everyone has digital cameras these days. Only the purists use film-based cameras, but it wasn't that long ago film was the only way to capture the moment. When I was a stringer for the Green Bay Press-Gazette, I purchased my first 35mm camera and taught myself how to use it. It helped a lot when doing a feature for the newspaper. At home, I used it to take pictures of our children.

Adding the film and developing meant photos could be costly. I had to limit myself on how many I took. The worst part was that I never knew if I captured the moment well enough for the paper or if everything was a blur. It took days to get the roll developed. It's nice having digital cameras today. I can look at the screen and get an idea right away if I have a decent photo or not.

After that closet cleaning, I ended up with a roll of undeveloped film that was a big question mark. I had no clue where or when it was taken. I also had no idea where or if I could get it developed.

Lucky for me, I saw a sign on the door heading into Don's Market in Seymour. It said that they still developed film.

It took me a month to remember to put the film in my purse, and it took another week for me to remember to drop it off at the store.

Finally, I filled in the form and put the film in the drop box at Don's.

Years ago, when everyone was developing film, there was overnight developing. When I spoke to the clerk, she said they only picked up once a week now and then it might be another week for developing.

Well, there was no rush. Hadn't that film sat at the bottom of a box for years? I could wait.

Now I had to remember to pick up my pictures. It took a few trips to town for me to do that.

Finally, I remembered. It cost $3.99 for my unknown treasure. Even though I hadn't been in a hurry for the prints, I couldn't wait to open the envelope. As I sat in the car, I ripped the envelope open.

The photos took me back to fall 2004. In my hand, I had photos of baby Seth, our second grandson, and his older brother, Ethan, with the family on the farm. What a great gift.

I couldn't wait to show Bob.

Now I have to share the photos with the rest of the family and here in the paper today.

If you happen to find film in a junk drawer, don't throw it out. Get it developed as soon as possible. You might find you have found a long lost treasure.

When I renew my spring cleaning, I hope to find more undeveloped film. Treasures like that are priceless.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;