Published: Sunday, January 25, 1998
MORTON - As the well-preserved reels ran through the projector, memories 30 to 40 years old were cast on the wall and questions raised in a story about the lost home movies began to be answered.
Who was the little blond girl who appeared so often?
"Well, there were four little blond girls, but the one that was on the front page was Arlene, she's Noel's girl," said Helen Crow Smith. Noel Crow is her brother. He, too, appears in many scenes.
The other blond girls are Teresa Loveless, 39; Diane Smith, 43; and Doyce Smith, 41. The little girl with dark hair is Linda Smith, 46, while the little boy wearing a cowboy hat and overalls is Lynn Smith, 44.
Did the girls live at the home that appeared to have been blown away by a tornado?
"That's April 1957," Helen Crow Smith explained. "A tornado hit Whitharral and destroyed three houses within about a mile."
"All three houses were occupied by members of the Waters family that had been our neighbors," said Crow as she watched the film. "Nobody was hurt. We drove over there the next morning and I took the camera with me."
Crow, who suffered a stroke about two years ago and suffers memory lapses, had no recollection of the Whitharral tornado until she saw the movies.
While screening the films answered many questions, one mystery remains. What happened to the movies between the time they were stolen from Crow's home in February 1968 and when they were found by Mel Gomez following the May 1970 tornado?
That question may never be answered.