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Cue up the memories

Local elder reminisces after watching re-discovered video

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

Fort Simpson (Aug 16/02) - Mary Kraus watched her past come to life on a 19-inch television set last week.

In the common area of the north wing at the long-term care home, a dozen people joined Kraus to watch a tape stumbled upon at the Visitors' Information Centre last year. It was shot about 35 years ago by Gus Kraus, Mary's deceased husband, and Father Mary, a minister who was based in Fort Liard.

NNSL Photo

Mary Kraus watches scenes from video footage that was shot about 35 years ago in Nahanni Butte. She and her family appear numerous times in the series of clips. - Derek Neary/NNSL photo

The Fort Simpson Historical Society donated the original 16 mm film to the Prince of Wales Heritage Centre, but asked for video copies to be sent in return. Stephen Rowan, a member of the historical society, decided to surprise Mary Kraus by airing the tape for her last Wednesday.

From her wheelchair, her eyes rarely left the screen. Although there was no sound, Mary provided occasional commentary, calling out "That's me," and "Mickey Kraus," whenever her son appeared.

Mary, fellow elder Alice Gaudet and everyone else enjoyed a good laugh as Mickey, then five or six years old, tried to keep his harnessed puppy dog team from getting tangled up.

The clips alternated from summer scenes to winter settings. There were shots of ice breaking up and people swimming in the river with snow on the banks; men in a three-legged race and then a tug-of-war; float planes and helicopters equipped with pontoons; dry meat hanging; a man scraping a moose hide; a black bear and a moose.

"The bear would come out all the time," Mary said. "(And the moose) would come right up."

Edwin Lindberg and Albert Faille also made cameos in the video, copies of which will be made available for the long-term care facility, the Visitors' Information Centre and the schools.

After 22 minutes, the film came to an end. Afterwards Mary talked of how she was once a capable hunter and trapper. With a thimble on her finger, she noted that she still enjoys sewing and beadwork.

As she started wheeling down the hall for dinner, Mary turned and said, " 'You are a movie star,' they told me."

Then she laughed.