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"A Romance In Southbridge"

Hey Dick,
    It has been awhile since I have written, but I just remembered something that you may find interesting and may want to investigate further. As you may remember we lived on the corner of South St. and Orchard St (now a doctors office) for quite a while, but we moved from there and rented for a short time. We then moved up to Lebanon hill road. But the interest lies in the rental. We rented a house on the corner of Orchard and Dresser streets. The house used to belong to the people who owned the movie theatre in town, I think their name was Blanchard.  I found an old movie in the basement called " A Romance in Southbridge". This movie
was on Nitro Cellulose film stock. Nitro cellulose is more commonly referred to as "gun cotton". Gun cotton was used for making film stock, but perhaps a better
known and demonstrative use was to fire the 18" guns on battle ships!

To digress a little further My father was Mortimer J. Williams and he was a chemical engineer, therefore he understood the dangers of the nitro cellulose, which gets more dangerous with age. He wanted to get the "stuff" out of the house immediately but I talked him into waiting a couple of weeks so I could research it and perhaps get it transferred to normal modern film.  At the time perhaps around 1972, I was a member of the Southbridge historical society.I figured I would start there and see if anybody knew what it was. Seaver Rice, then 81 years old remembered seeing the movie when he was young. It must have been around the turn of the century he said. He further stated that at that time there were movie companies that would go around to mid sized towns, make a movie with the towns people in it and then sell it to the local movie theatre, perhaps the local theatre would contract for it, I am not sure.

    I contacted Kodak and asked them how much it would cost to transfer the movie to standard film and they responded  to the effect that it was far to dangerous of an undertaking to do for money. They would only do it for "historically  significant" films and that "A Romance in Southbridge" did not meet her criterion for istorically
significant".   With this response I lost all leverage and my father disposed of the film. I am not sure how, but I know he did not like my adolescent ideas that involved flames and such.  I would assume that that was the only copy in existence, but there may be stills etc. that were taken off the film. I don't know if this will be of any use but....

Later, Mort Williams

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