Hettinger man preserves community’s history, creates ‘Hettinger Time Machine’

Published: May. 22, 2023 at 1:00 PM CDT
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HETTINGER, N.D. (KFYR) - A photo may be worth a thousand words, but old video is even more valuable.

The problem is much of the equipment needed to watch those old home movies isn’t available anymore. It’s tough to even find a working VCR.

The good news: a Hettinger man has found a way to bring old movies back to life, and he’s sharing them with the world.

Andy Roehl can’t stop watching this video, taken decades ago. It’s a video of his dad, from long before Andy was born.

“I would say this is from the 1960s,” he said while looking at the old video.

When Roehl’s dad passed away unexpectedly in 2016, Roehl found a treasure trove of home movies.

“I had never seen them before,” Roehl said. “He had piles of reels.”

Roehl has been digitizing them and watching them ever since.

“I learned things about my dad I never knew,” he said.

He’s even started offering video digitizing services at his t-shirt shop, Graphic Attic. What he found on reels and tapes inspired him to tackle a new project.

“It’s a virtual time machine,” Roehl said.

He created a YouTube channel called “Hettinger Time Machine.” There he posts glimpses into the community’s past.

“We’re all a community and we’re a small town, so we’re all like a big family. It was like watching home movies I had never seen before,” he explained.

Roehl has collected high school sports, Fourth of July parades from the past 50 years, fireworks, and even rodeos and demolition derbies.

“I have hundreds of hours worth of stuff,” he said.

Roehl says the older the video, the more interesting it is.

“There’s some something really magical about old eight-millimeter film, slides and VHS tapes. Yeah, the quality is not amazing, but it’s raw and it’s candid and it’s real,” Roehl said.

A clip from the last day of school in 1955 shows high school seniors leaving for the last time. Among them is Al McIntyre.

“I’ve lived here since I was six years old,” said McIntyre, who still lives in Hettinger.

Now 85, he says preserving these old videos is important.

“It’s our heritage,” said McIntyre.

A heritage that thanks to the “Hettinger Time Machine,” will be remembered forever.

Roehl only shares videos with the permission of his clients. He plans to upload videos to YouTube on a regular basis. Follow along on YouTube and Facebook.