Jim Thorpe’s video legacy goes to DVD | NevadaAppeal.com
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Jim Thorpe’s video legacy goes to DVD

Kelli Du Fresne

The Carson City Preservation Coalition has come up with another project worthy of note – preserving Carson City’s history.

OK, so I’m being smart with you the readers, but they really are preserving Carson history – only what they want to preserve isn’t quite old yet. Unless, of course, you’re 4, and think 15 is so ooold.

Coalition president Eileen Cohen said the group has created the “Jim Thorpe Project” to take the more than 2,000 videos of Carson City events filmed by longtime Carson City resident Jim Thorpe and transfer them to DVDs.

The DVDs would then be given to the Carson Library, and therefore become available to the public.

The more money the group has, the more videos will be transferred. It costs about $17 for supplies and to do the transfer. Two videos will fit on each DVD. They also need a variety of other help to complete the project. Anyone interested in volunteering can call Eileen at 267-2557.

The group also offers tours of east Carson City and has created a guidebook for the tour it sells for $4. Some of the money earned from the booklet will go toward the DVD project, but it is not enough.

Jim has been shooting video of Carson City tree-lighting ceremonies, awards ceremonies, graduations, Nevada Day parades, supervisors’ meetings, museum programs and more. You name it, he’s probably shot it over the past 15 years.

In a March 2002 interview with the Nevada Appeal, Jim said the time spent at every event, nearly every tape, every event broadcast across the airwaves of Carson Access Television comes at his cost.

“I like to do it,” he said. “It’s my hobby.”

In the same interview, Bob Nylen, history curator for the Nevada State Museum, said Jim had missed only one of the museum’s lecture series in 10 years.

Jim’s videotapes were then broadcast on the public access television stations that broadcast in Reno, Carson, Dayton, Minden and Gardnerville.

“I’m indebted to him,” Nylen said. “My goal is to make people aware of Nevada history and our culture. I couldn’t do that without Jim.”

Two years ago, Jim planned to transfer the tapes himself to DVDs and donate them to the library. But at 84, Jim is winding down his activities and glad to know his work will live on.

“Jim is very happy that this legacy of his will be available to the people for enjoyment and research,” Cohen said.

People watch his videos, he said, because “they’re in them.

“They like to see what they looked like five, 10, 15 years ago when they still had hair.”

Born Dec. 7, 1919, in San Francisco, Jim grew up with a father he described as a hobo.

Jim came to Carson City in 1935, and enrolled himself in the eighth grade. Though he attended several technical and trade schools, he never graduated from public school, but came away with, in his words, an “equivalent education.”

He spent four years with the U.S. Navy, most of it on the USS Tennessee, where he fought in the battle of Iwo Jima.

A barber in the Navy, he went to California after the war and honed his skills. Nevada called him home, and he went to work in his father’s new garage in Carson City, building his family home on Lone Mountain Drive in 1947.

He built a mobile home park surrounding his home over the years, but mostly he’s built a legacy to the community he calls home.

“Carson City is probably the best place I’ve ever lived,” he said.

Kelli Du Fresne is features editor of the Nevada Appeal. Contact her at kdufresne@nevadaappeal .com or 881-1261.