Kodachrome and Root Beer

Lunch at Charlie's Place, Hortonville, WI, Summer 2010.
Kodachrome in the glovebox was not subjected to heat.
When small gauge film expert Toni Treadway of Brodsky & Treadway emailed with an offer of a few rolls of circa 1990s Kodachrome double 8 mm from her freezer, we knew what we'd do with it. While working on the Wisconsin Arts Board Wisconsin Labor Survey in 2007, we photographed a carhop named Elise at Charlie's Place in Hortonville. We wanted to make a short movie about the restaurant and the family that ran it. The owners were a brother and sister team who'd recently taken over from their retired dad who started it after buying an old A&W in 1965. Working together, they kept the place a viable summer business by orchestrating a self-described "shabby" Americana roadside atmosphere and offering up a selection of basic made-from-scratch food. The help of family-members and towns people was also essential. Patrons drink root beer floats out of frosted glasses (not styrofoam cups) and the sandwiches come wrapped in simple paper printed with the word "delicious" rather than the excess of multi-colored corporately-branded boxes. We filmed on classic car night during Elvis death week in August.  Carl showed up with bedazzled white jumpsuit and an armful of polyester flower leis he distributed generously as he hugged babies and greeted carloads of customers. Wife Tori, dressed as Marilyn, served sheet cake from the hood of a white Cadillac. We finished shooting by September and shipped it off the exposed Kodachrome Dwayne's in Kansas to beat the processing rush. Not only had the last roll of Kodachrome been produced by Kodak, but K-14 processing was scheduled to cease December 30, 2010 at the family-owned lab in Kansas.

1 comment:

  1. I have always been fascinated by the surreal glow surrounding these little roadside businesses that are mostly tucked away and widely unnoticed. The Kodachrome definitely captured that glow on film. It was a pleasure watching your movie.