Friday, April 13, 2018

Friday's Faces From the Past: Images from a 1927-8 Home Movie

After my father, Frederick Henry Pape, passed away in November 2017, I was going through his things, and I came across a VHS tape I'd never seen before.  It had a label from a video transfer service from the town he lived in from 1993 to 2013, so my guess is he had a 16mm film reel transferred to VHS.  The only other label on the tape said "Old Movies 1927-28."  Dad had never shown it to any of his five kids nor even mentioned it.  I think he may have forgotten about it.

I watched the 16+ minute tape and was VERY excited by what I found on it.  It's all in black-and-white, there is no sound, and the image quality was rather poor.  But I had the tape digitized and have captured some still images from it.  In later posts, I'll include clips from the film.

Like most home movies, it really is a series of short clips, most filmed in or around my great-grandfather Frederick Massmann's home at 7000 Ridge Boulevard in the north part of Chicago (Ridge was the dividing line between the Rogers Park and West Ridge neighborhoods).  The house is long gone and I'd never seen photographs of it, so that was exciting in itself.  I'll tell you more in a later post how I was able to positively identify it (before verifying with my aunt).  Other landmarks I recognized were the Lincoln Park Zoo, the "Standing Lincoln" statue in that same park, and Calvary Cemetery on the border of Chicago and Evanston, Illinois.

Based on all the snow on the ground, a Christmas tree in one scene, the people who appear in it, and the dates on the label, I think this was filmed around the Christmas season of 1927-1928.

But most exciting to me were the people!  I think my grandfather, Paul Robert Pape (1896-1970), did most of the filming, but there was one short clip near the end where he appeared, walking with my grandmother, Elizabeth Florence Massmann Pape (1902-2000):

I'm pretty darn positive this is my grandparents, but for those of you who never knew them, here is their wedding picture from just three years earlier, September 3, 1924:

The other major players in the film are my Massmann great-grandparents.  Below is my great-grandmother Elizabeth Camilla Dienes Massmann (1876-1946), and the toddler is my dad's brother, my uncle Paul Robert "Bob" Pape Jr. (1926-2008).  Uncle Bob was born in January 1926, so he would have been about two years old when this movie was made.  He appears a lot in the film, which makes sense if his father was the one doing most of the filming!

And below is a clip with the best image of my great-grandfather Frederick Henry Massmann (1875-1948).  His wife Elizabeth is to the left of him, and I believe the woman on the far left is his sister Frances.  More on her in a bit.

Here is a previously-undated photograph of Elizabeth and Frederick Massmann.  The structure behind them appears in other clips in the movie, so I think the photograph was taken outside 7000 Ridge Boulevard, which I know they lived in from at least May 1927 (but not during the 1920 Census) to at least April 1932 (but they'd moved by August 1936).

Here are a couple more photographs of my Massmann great-grandparents, Frederick probably in May 1932 at his investiture in the Pontifical Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great, and one of Elizabeth in her younger days (no date on photograph, but it probably around 1900): 

Two more Massmanns in the movie are, I believe, my great-great-grandfather Carl Wilhelm Heinrich Massmann (1847-1929) and my second great aunt Frances (Franziska) Ernestine Johanne Lina Massmann (1874-1958), Frederick's slightly-older sister.  After the death of Carl's wife, my great-grandmother Wilhelmine Auguste "Minna" Fricke (1847-1917), Carl lived with his daughter Frances, who never married.

Here's a photograph of Carl from just three years earlier, at the wedding of his granddaughter Elizabeth to my grandfather Paul Pape, on September 3, 1924.  I feel pretty confident it is the same person.

The only photograph I have of Frances is from many years earlier.  The photograph was definitely taken before May 14, 1917 (when her mother Minna - cropped out of this photo - died), and probably before June 23, 1909, when her sister Minna "Minnie" Marie Clara Massmann (1878-1928, also cropped from the photo), married.  You can see some similarities to the woman in the movie.

I believe the gentleman in the bowler hat below is Alfred John Massmann (1901-1964), my great-uncle.  In the photo below, I believe he's with his nephew, my Uncle Bob, but I think his own son, Alfred John "Jack" Massmann (1926-1999) is also in the movie.

Here is Uncle Al as a groomsman in the wedding of his sister, my grandmother, on September 3, 1924.

These two also appear in the movie, on a trip to Lincoln Park Zoo with my grandmother and Uncle Bob.  Agatha Patricia Burke Massmann (1903-1979) is holding her oldest child Jack, born just six months after my Uncle Bob.  Unfortunately, I have no other photos of either of them anywhere near this time with which to compare.

There's one more woman who appears a lot in the movie with my grandmother, and it's not her mother, aunt, or sister-in-law.  These two are often doing fun things like throwing snowballs at each other (and perhaps figure skating together).  I think it is Marian Udelhofen (1904-1939), who my dad told me was his mother's best friend.  For many years, they lived just down the street from each other, and at the time this movie was made, Marian still lived close by, about 2-3 blocks away.  In the photo below, I think Marian is on the left and my grandmother is on the right:

Here is another excerpt from the wedding party photo from my grandparents' wedding on September 3, 1924.  I had identified everyone else in the photo, except for this woman, and I now think she is Marian Udelhofen.  It would make sense for my grandmother to have a good friend from childhood as an attendant, given that she had no sisters.  And I think the woman in the picture below looks an awful lot like the woman on the left in the picture above.

The film also has a brief sequence, unfortunately shot in poor lighting, of a woman holding a baby.  I think the woman is my grandmother and the baby is my aunt, my dad's older sister, Elizabeth "Betty" Mary Pape Streff (1927-2017).  Betty was born in October of 1927, so she still would have been an infant when the film was made.

© Amanda Pape - 2018 - click here to e-mail me.


  1. What a treasure! The pictures from the film are not bad at all, even if they aren't exactly frame worthy.

  2. Oh these are so wonderful. I see all the similarities you reference. The reall easy one is the smile from just above. You think that gal (wedding photo) and above it on left is Marian Udelhofen? Now I have to see what I can find. A Udelhofen married a Muno and they are sort of special to my love of St Henry's cemetery. What a thrill those 8mm movies are for sure.

    1. Amy, thanks for commenting! Marian is the youngest of four children of John Udelhofen (1866–1946) and Mary Brenner Udelhofen (1873–1970). Other siblings are Barbara Udelhofen Mertes (1895-1987), Joseph J. Udelhofen (1897-1988), Henry M Udelhofen (1899–1972), and Edward Udelhofen (b. ABT 1903). I'd love to find a picture that is definitively Marian!