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Hurricane Sandy Salvaging Project

PermalinkBy Paul Rudoff on Feb. 3, 2013 at 11:14 PM , Categories: Personal , Tags: hurricane-sandy
Updated on October 1, 2014

As my family is now, for the most part, settled into our new home, and everything that was undamaged or salvageable has been moved from the old home, there are two main tasks ahead of us: (1) Try to salvage the damp stuff brought over from the old house, and (2) Get myself a new desktop computer. I am going to post my progress on each of these tasks in two separate blog posts here. This one will deal with the salvaging project.

FYI: You can use the url below to easily link to all articles here on Spook Central about my family and Hurricane Sandy:
http://tinyurl.com/rudoff-hurricane-sandy

I previously posted a photo of some unsalvageable flood-damaged Ghostbusters-related items lying on the floor of the old house. Those items were beyond salvaging and stayed at the old house to get thrown out when the house is demolished. The photo below shows a bunch of damp stuff that I felt *could* be partially salvaged (or that I didn't have the heart to leave behind). I will use this blog post to keep everyone abreast of my progress in trying to salvage this stuff as best as possible. Please check out the Salvaging Project Facebook gallery for more photos.

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The photo above shows hundreds of soaking wet DVDs, Blu-ray Discs, Playstation 1/2/3 video games, PC games, and audio CDs. All of the discs should be fine, but the cases and paper liners/manuals are probably a lost cause. Included in that group of stuff, and you can see these in more detail in the Facebook gallery, are the following Ghostbusters items:

  • The PC, PS2, and PS3 copies of Ghostbusters The Video Game.

  • Ghostbusters Blu-ray.

  • Filmation's Ghostbusters - The Live-Action Complete Series DVD Set. This DVD set is out of print.

  • Filmation's Ghostbusters - The Animated Series Vol. 1 & 2 DVD Sets. This is the complete series. These DVD sets are out of print.

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The photo above shows the soaked remains of my *ENTIRE* The Real Ghostbusters DVD and VHS collection!!! This includes:

  • Three copies of the TimeLife Complete Collection DVD box set (one plastic cases and two Steelbooks).

  • All three of Sony's individual DVD volumes (one contains an alt music ep).

  • The OS Films "Manhattan Madness" bootleg DVD.

  • The RGBDVDs.tk "Halloween Special" bootleg DVD.

  • The TimeLife promotional DVD.

  • A set of TimeLife DVD set production DVD-Rs which contain direct copies of the original masters complete with video duplication cards given to me by James Eatock.

  • All of the Magic Window VHS tapes released in the 1980s (lots of alt music eps here).

  • Several dozen home-recorded VHS tapes of TV recordings from the past 25 years (all of the known redubbed voices eps and some other variants found here).

All of the soaked VHS tapes I have - and that includes all of my family's home movies - are probably a lost cause. I don't know any way to salvage them. Even if I opened up the shells, I can't dry off the tape itself (there's no room to unspool it, and that'll only risk it getting more damaged), and I don't know if just coming in contact with saltwater ruined the tape already.

The good news is that Jeff Peisch from TimeLife has generously sent me a new copy of the Complete Collection DVD box set. It's the original Steelbook version, and not my preferable plastic case version, but I'm not complaining as I'm just glad to have a copy that isn't soaking wet :-)

The rest of my Real Ghostbusters collection is gonna be hard or near-impossible to replace - especially the redubbed episodes since only fan recordings of the original ABC broadcasts are the only source for them. I have an idea who *might* able to help me with the TV recordings, but they're struggling with their own problems so making copies for me is, understandably, not a top priority for them.

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Now this photo might be even sadder than the previous one. Here are several dozen soaking wet magazines that, for the most part, feature Ghostbusters articles. Most of them are long out of print sci-fi mags from the 1980s, such as Starlog, Enterprise Incidents, Cinefantastique, and Starburst. There are also some mags of a more recent vintage with articles on the 2009 video game.

I'm gonna try my best to carefully pry apart the pages and salvage the pages with the Ghostbusters articles on them, but there is no guarantee that the pages could be pried apart. This is yet another reason why I'm glad I started the Ghostbusters eBook Preservation Project. I just wish I had gotten around to preserving these particular magazines sooner :-(

February 14, 2013:
I've gone through all of the magazines you see in the photo above. I tried my best to carefully pry apart the pages and salvage the Ghostbusters articles from within each one. I didn't bother trying to save entire magazines; just the Ghostbusters articles and the covers. Any magazines that didn't have Ghostbusters articles were not salvaged at all.

I'm happy to report that I was pretty much 100% successful. Below is the full list of magazines and some salvage notes on each one. When I'm able to do so, I will scan in these pages and add them as PDFs here on the site. You can already find PDFs of the Starlog magazines on the Internet Archive. Also, there were lots of magazines that were thrown out at the old house, which I was not able to keep a record of. So I don't know what other magazines with Ghostbusters articles in them were lost already.
  1. Best of Starlog, The - Vol. 6 (1985) - GB1 I. REITMAN PAGES SALVAGED
  2. Cinefantastique - January 1985 (v15,n1) (Last Starfighter) - E. BERNSTEIN GB1 SCORE & GB1 REVIEW PAGES SEMI-SALVAGED
  3. Cinefantastique - January 1990 (v20,n3) (Tales From The Crypt) - GB2 REVIEW SALVAGED
  4. Cinefantastique - March ??? (V29,n9) (Richard Edlund Stay Puft/Star Wars) - ONLY GB CONTENT IS STAY PUFT ON COVER; SEMI-SALVAGED
  5. Enterprise Incidents - August 1984 - SUMMER OF SCI-FI GB1 PAGE SALVAGED
  6. Enterprise Incidents - September 1984 - GB1 I. REITMAN PAGES SALVAGED
  7. Enterprise Incidents - October 1984 - GB1 E. HUDSON PAGES SALVAGED
  8. Enterprise Incidents - November 1984 - M. GROSS GB1 SPFX PAGES SALVAGED
  9. Fangoria - March 1996 (#150) (Cryptkeeper) - GB2 PIC & ANTEDOTE IN P. MACNICHOL PAGES SALVAGED
  10. Game Developer - February 2008 (Ratchet & Clank) - TERMINAL REALITY GBVG JOB AD PAGE SALVAGED
  11. Game Informer - December 2007 (#176) (GBVG World Premiere) (2 copies) - GBVG PAGES SALVAGED, FOR THE MOST PART!
  12. GamePro - August 2009 (Mass Effect 2) - GBVG REVIEW PAGES SALVAGED
  13. Geek Monthly - June 2009 (Andy Richter) - GBVG PAGES SALVAGED
  14. Official Xbox Magazine - July 2008 (#85) (Shaun White Snowboarding) (2 copies) - GBVG HANDS-ON PAGES SALVAGED
  15. Official Xbox Magazine - June 2009 (#97) (Aliens vs Predator) - GBVG MULTIPLAYER & CO-OP HANDS-ON PAGES SALVAGED
  16. Official Xbox Magazine - July 2009 (#98) (Mass Effect 2) - GBVG REVIEW PAGES SALVAGED
  17. Starburst - December 1984 (#76) - ALL GB1 PAGES SALVAGED, THOUGH PDF IS ALREADY ON SITE
  18. Starlog - December 1986 (#113) (Little Shop's Moranis & Candy) - RGB VHS PREMIERE BLURB & TSUKDA MODEL AD PAGES SALVAGED (two eps premiered on home video a year before they were shown on TV)
  19. Starlog - March 1991 (#164) (Nothing But Trouble's Aykroyd) - D. AYKROYD PAGES SALVAGED
  20. Starlog - July 1996 (#228) (20th Anniversary Edition) - SMALL GB1 PHOTO AND THREE QUOTES PAGES SALVAGED
  21. Starlog Poster Magazine - Vol. 4 (1985) - STAY PUFT POSTER & GB1 PAGES SALVAGED (due for theatrical re-release in August 1985)
  22. Starlog Scrapbook - Vol. 4 (1985) - FULL-PAGE S. WEAVER & HALF-PAGE B&W GUYS ON TEMPLE PHOTO PAGES SALVAGED
  23. Starlog: 25 Years of Science Fiction Movies - Special Star Wars Edition - July 2002 - GB PIC PAGES SALVAGED
  24. Starlog: Platinum Edition #2: SF Actors & Actresses (1994) - S. WEAVER ARTICLE SALVAGED
  25. Starlog: Science Fiction Video Magazine - 1988 (#1) (Robin Williams & Aliens) - GB1 ON ESSENTIAL FILMS LIST & GB1 REVIEW BLURB PAGES SALVAGED
  26. Toyfare - December 2007 (#124) (Aliens vs. Predator) - RGB PAGES SALVAGED
  27. Toyfare - August 2009 (#144) - MATTEL FIGURES PAGES SALVAGED
  28. Xbox 360: Official Xbox Magazine UK - Christmas 2007 (#28) - ALL GBVG PAGES SALVAGED
The following magazines are shown in the photo above, but do not contain any Ghostbusters articles, so they were not salvaged.
  1. Modeler's Resource - April/May 2003 (#51) (Star Trek's Enterprise)
  2. Comics Scene - January 1981 (#1, Premiere Issue) (Stan Lee & Jim Shooter)
  3. Enterprise Incidents - December 1984
  4. Enterprise Incidents - 1989 Annual Tribute Book: Trek & Next Generation
  5. Fangoria - April 1999 (#181) (Wishmaster 2) (small Slimer pic in collage with Steve Johnson article; not worth keeping)
  6. Starlog: Science Fiction Yearbook 1979 (#1)
The following magazines are not shown in the photo above, do not contain any Ghostbusters articles, and were completely unsalvagable.
  1. Penthouse - September 1984 (Vanessa Williams & George Burns; 15th Anniversary)
  2. Penthouse - November 1984 (Vanessa Williams)
  3. Penthouse - January 1985 (Vanessa Williams & George Burns)
  4. Stuff For Men - February/March 2000 (with Alicia Witt)
  5. Stuff - January 2002 (with Chyler Leigh & Mia Kirshner)

February 16, 2013:
I spent the past week doing a lot of organizing, cataloging, and sorting of the flood-damaged stuff in the attic. I was surprised to find a few undamaged items mixed in with the damaged stuff. Today I went through all of my damaged Real Ghostbusters tapes and DVDs. A lot of the tapes are being thrown out, as are all of the rusted Steelbook cases from the TimeLife DVD sets (the firehouse boxes and liner books were thrown out weeks ago).

The set of 51 Production DVD-Rs that James Eatock sent me a few years ago, which contain copies of the master tapes used in the making of the TimeLife set, pretty much survived unharmed. The paper envelopes the discs were in were damp, so I put them all in a disc book (aka disc wallet). Here's a photo of all 51 discs lying on the floor drying out (they got a tiny bit wet from being in the damp envelopes).

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I also went through the bag with all of my family's home movie videotapes. I was surprised to find out that the first 10 tapes, which covers the early 1980s (audio only) to 1996, appear to be completely unharmed. I'll know for sure when I try to play them, but things are looking good. Here's a photo of them sitting on the wooden VHS tower I made a long time ago in high school. This is exactly what they were sitting on when the flood ravaged my old home. These 10 tapes were on the top two shelves, which explains why they weren't damaged.

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As for the other 14 tapes (#11-#23 plus an Annie school play in 2000), which covers 1996-2012, I can tell that they were definitely submerged in the saltwater. I wouldn't chance playing these tapes (pictured below) as they could easily ruin the VCR. Chances are they're a lost cause.

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February 23, 2013:
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What you see in the above photo is the portion of my autograph collection that got damaged and destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. On the bottom left is a huge binder full of plastic sheet protectors containing lots of signed photos. The stack on the bottom right contains Thousands of dollars worth of signed wrestling photos I bought from various dealers over the years. The former WWF Tag Team champions The Smoking Gunns are on the top of the stack. All of the envelopes you see in the back contain signed photos, magazines, and comic books.

Today, I got done going through all of those photos, seeing which ones could be salvaged, and documenting through photographs all of the ones that were either totally destroyed or considerably ruined. I posted those photos to the Autographed Memorabilia Hurricane Sandy Destroyed gallery on Facebook (255 photos).

As you could imagine, nearly all of the wrestling photos in that stack were totally destroyed as they were stuck to each other. I think there was less than 10 out of a hundred or more that I was able to save. The ones in the sheet protectors in the huge binder faired a little better, but there were many where the autograph came off the photo (partially or entirely) and got transferred to the plastic sheet. The ones in the envelopes were a mixed bag, but many of the photographs had their image transferred to the inside of the envelopes, ala an iron-on transfer.

Being that this is a Ghostbusters website, I'd be remiss if I didn't give special attention to the Ghostbusters photos that got destroyed or ruined. Heartbreakingly, this photo got destroyed:

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(click to enlarge)

This is a Ghostbusters II photo signed by Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, and Sigourney Weaver. I bought it from dealer Bubble & Squeak (eBay ID: bubble-n-squeak) on May 4, 2006 for $73.00 plus $6.00 shipping. As you can see, there's no way it could be salvaged. Here's a before-and-after comparison using the image I saved from the original eBay listing.

Some other Ghostbusters-specific autographed items are listed below, some of which I was able to salvage or partially salvage, and some of which was beyond salvaging. The Autographed Memorabilia Hurricane Sandy Destroyed gallery on Facebook has more destroyed/ruined photos of Ghostbusters cast and crew, but these are the only ones where the signed item is Ghostbusters-specific.

* Frank Welker (Real Ghostbusters promo image)
* Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters headshot)
* Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters II cast with Ivan Reitman)
* Michael Gross (with Terror Dog on rooftop set)
* Tom Nyguen (Ghostbusters: The Other Side #1 Graham Cracker Comics exclusive cover)

At this point in time I'm taking a little break from the Salvaging Project to work on other things around the house and in my life. What's left to try to salvage isn't very exciting and may or may not be documented here: family photos, my grade school and high school diplomas, my grade school and high school yearbooks, lots of personal birthday and school momentos, other stuff of a personal nature, and LOTS and LOTS of disc-based media (CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray Discs, PS1/PS2/PS3/PC video games).


March 25, 2013:
I just took all of my hand-written lists and typed them up to create the Hurricane Sandy Flood-Damaged Media page. It's rough-looking, but it gets the job done. These lists cover *most* of the items my family owns/owned that got ruined or destroyed by the hurricane. Yeah, there's well over 500 items in total. Anyway, once I get done getting my new computer set up, and I can find a little bit of free time, I'll get back to finishing the Salvaging Project.


October 11, 2013:
I started to work on the salvaging project a little more as I was getting a little bored doing the computer shopping research. Most of the discs that the hurricane "touched" were fine (cases, artwork, etc. are another story), but I found a few DVDs and Blu-ray discs that did not survive. The photo below shows the underside of seven different Blu-ray discs. As you can see, they have all discolored in one form or another, while one has turned nearly completely white. Of course, none of these are playable and can't be salvaged. In case you're wondering, the movies are as follows (clockwise from top left, ending in the center): First Blood (nearly completely white), Rambo: First Blood Part II, 3:10 To Yuma 2007, It's Complicated, Dinner For Schmucks, Knucklehead, and Legendary (center).

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October 17, 2013:
I surveyed all of the stuff in the attic to see what's left to be done. Even after the salvaging project is done, my family and I will need to go through all of these boxes of (mostly) undamaged stuff:

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So, yeah, if you ever wondered why I've been putting this off, those pictures explain it all. As for the salvaging project, these bags contain everything that's left to deal with:

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It's mostly disc-based media, but there are a few other things as well. Speaking of which... I just brought down the two bags of flood-damaged video games (and some audio CDs). Here's the "before" photo of the games:

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October 28, 2013:
It's taken a bit over a week to finish salvaging the video games as best as I can. Although there are more ruined DVDs than any other disc-based media, in terms of "part of the whole", my video game collection took the biggest hit. Out of 50-100 PC, PS1, PS2, and PS3 games, only THREE were untouched by the flood: Grand Theft Auto III (PC), Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (PC), and Wheel of Fortune (PS2).

All manuals and cases were thrown out. The pages of the manuals were all glued together, so that made them useless. The cases were all dirty and aren't worth trying to clean. I had to break some cases in order to get the discs out, as most discs were glued to the manuals in the case. After cleaning the discs, I put them into disc envelopes, and the case liners that weren't totally ruined were put into plastic sleeves with the discs. Here's the "after" photo of the games:

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I don't know how many of those discs are still playable. Some now look completely undamaged, so they should be fine. Others have spots of the disc "label" worn off. That said, they may still be playable. The Manhunt PlayStation 2 game disc had large portions of it's label removed, and yet it's playable so far. The photo on the left shows the disc as it was after getting it out of the case (notice the white paper from the manual stuck to it). After I gently cleaned the paper off, I was left with the disc seen in the image on the right. I would not have thought this disc to be playable, but I checked it out, and so far so good. That said, I would still like to replace it ASAP.

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Thanks to the help of several video game companies, I was able to replace a dozen or so damaged games. As of right now, there are only three PlayStation 3 games that need to be replaced (Lego Batman, WWE Legends of Wrestlemania, and WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2009); and a whole bunch of PC, PlayStation, and PlayStation 2 games that need to be replaced. If 2K Games' (current owners of the WWE games bought from THQ) public relations department would reply to my e-mails, maybe those two WWE PS3 games (and a few WWE PS2 games) could have been replaced already.


October 29, 2013:
I salvaged two small bags of audio CDs and DVDs. A couple are defective, but most seem to be okay. Here's the before photo:

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All cases were thrown out, as were most of the liner bookets from the audio CDs. This is what it all looked like when I was done:

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November 11, 2013:
Another day, another two bags of discs to try to salvage. This time around was a small bag of DVDs and all 60 ruined Blu-rays seen here:

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Here's the "after" photo showing the DVDs (top left stack) and the few Blu-ray discs that were salvagable:

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Sadly, 29 Blu-ray discs (photo below) were UTTERLY DESTROYED!!! That's half of the amount I started with. So far, I've found that very few DVD discs were damaged, whereas the majority of the Blu-ray discs my family owned were damaged. Whoever said that Blu-ray discs were more durable than DVDs was a liar.

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December 12, 2013:
For the past week I went through the last five medium and large garbage bags containing flood-damaged DVDs. Some photos are displayed below, but all of the full-size images can be found in a Facebook gallery.

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Along with lots of individual DVDs, these bags contained a LOT of box sets. The ones in the metal tins didn't fare very well, as you could imagine, since water and metal don't mix well :-)

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The box sets in paper-based boxes didn't fare very well, either. Here you can see a huge stack of them.

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The out-of-print BCI-released Filmation Ghostbusters live-action and animated DVD sets got trashed, but thankfully the discs seem like they will be playable (I hope).

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Although more than half of the Blu-ray discs that were touched by the flood waters were unsalvagable, that doesn't mean that there weren't *some* DVDs to also suffer that same fate. Here you can see a small bunch of destroyed DVDs, most of which were part of multi-disc sets.

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In this final image you see the *WORST* destroyed DVDs of the thousand or so discs that the hurricane messed with. These four DVDs were manufactured by a little-known (and probably now defunct) company named Media Movies & More. Two contain episodes of a long-forgotten show called "Dr. Yesterday's Old Time News", and the other two contain episodes of an equally long-forgotten show called "Imagine That" (which these DVDs retitled "Great Moments In History"). I picked these up a few years ago in a dollar store for $1.50 each. As you can see in the image, the data was almost entirely wiped clean from each disc, leaving them completely see-through. I have two discs label side up, and the other two data side up, so you can see the extent of the damage.

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At this point I am now completely done with salvaging disc-based media. All that's left to *attempt* to salvage are a few photo albums, yearbooks and diplomas, and a few other paper items that are probably unsalvageable and will get tossed in the trash. I'll post another update and maybe a photo or two when I tackle that. The Salvaging Project is *finally* close to being finished!!!


December 26, 2013:
For the past four days I went through the last big garbage bags, which contained family photos, school stuff, and a few other assorted things. Some photos are displayed below, but all of the full-size images can be found in a Facebook gallery.

I started with the 7 ruined photo albums. There were 4 in the first bag and 3 in the second bag.

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The photos contained in these albums ranged from "pretty much unharmed" to "totally destroyed". I don't know if they would have fared better had I been able to get to them sooner (the hurricane occurred 14 months ago). Any photos printed on good old photo paper were totally destroyed, while Polaroid instant photos and photos printed on computer photo paper were pretty much unharmed. Below you see what became of my high school senior class photo. Care to guess what type of photo it was?

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I'm actually surprised by how many photos in these seven albums I was able to save. I didn't count how many were saved and how many weren't, but I'd guess that less than half were saved.

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In the Summer of 1998 I took a trip cross-country with my father to California to visit relatives, and Doreen and Nora from the Ghostbusters Fan Forum. I kept an assortment of papers from the trip, and a stack of photos, in a folder. This is what the hurricane did to that folder:

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The stack of photos became an inseparatable BRICK! These photos are not pliable at all.

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Photos weren't the only things in these last few bags of damaged stuff. Here you see my father's grade school autograph book and the bible given to him by his parents, which he handed down to me. Neither could be salvaged.

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My baby book and my sister's baby book could not be salvaged, either.

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My 11th (1988) and 12th (1989) birthday books, and my Bar Mitzvah book (1990), were unsalvagable, though I was able to save most of the Polaroid photos from the birthday books. Nothing could be saved from the Bar Mitzvah book.

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I had all of my cherished school momentos stored in a dresser that I never would have thought would be filled with water, but that's what happened when the flood waters reached five feet high. This "Friends '88" autograph book was personally made for me (and all of the other 5th grade graduates) by the staff at Westbury Friends School. Everyone at the school (except for the other 5th graders) signed the book. This irreplacable item was unsalvagable.

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My grade school and high school diplomas were in that dresser. The water destroyed the beautiful folder (with illustration of the school inside) that housed my high school diploma. The red and black (school colors) tassle, which had a "95" charm on it, was unsalvagable, too.

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Luckily, all three paper diplomas were salvagable, even though they show some signs of damage.

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I had my school yearbooks stored with the other school stuff in that dresser. My Powell's Lane School yearbook ("The Power 1989") suffered a lot of damage on the cover and some on the first page, and the staples that held it together were rusted to nothing, but it was mostly unharmed. I'm gonna take it to a local print shop to see if they can re-bind it and put some kind of protective laminate on the cover. The Hofstra University new student yearbook was virtually unharmed. Other than a slight curl and a bend on the cover, you'd be hard pressed to find anything wrong with it.

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Unfortunately, the same CAN'T be said for my three East Rockaway Junior/Senior High School yearbooks. All three were utterly trashed and literally smelled like shit when I opened them. The 1990 and 1991 books (left and middle) were from my 7th and 8th grade years, and are an acceptable loss. It really hurts to lose the 1995 book, which was from my senior year. It was signed by all of my classmates and teachers, and contained a lot of cherished memories. While the school *may* be able to replace the book, they won't be able to replace the autographs contained therein.

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I couldn't even completely salvage my profile. I got most of it out of the book, but it's not pretty. Yes, I mentioned "Ghostbusters" in my profile text :-)

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January 12, 2014:
I started today with the very last thing left to do in the salavaging project. I have a total of 42 VHS tapes that need to be checked to see if they're still playable. There are 18 tapes of family home movies; including my family's appearance on The Caroline Rhea Show (4/22 and 4/24/2003) [2 tapes], where Caroline wished my sister a happy birthday at the end of the show; and my birthday mention on Playboy TV's The Weekend Flash (6/28/2003). These latter tapes are not included in the photo below.

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Then there are 21 tapes of The Real Ghostbusters episodes, which contain alternate episodes not on the TimeLife DVD set (I think a few these tapes may not contain any alternate episodes).

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Finally, I have three tapes containing special wrestling programs: the last episode of WCW Nitro (3/26/2001), the WWF Raw episode in which WWF buys WCW (3/26/2001), and the WWE Raw Chris Benoiit Tribute episode (6/25/2007). I didn't take a picture of any of these tapes, but you know what VHS tapes look like :-)

I have a spare VCR that I don't mind ruining, so I'm using that to check out the tapes. The ones that play will be copied to new tapes (and accept some quality loss), as it could be a while until I'm able to transfer them to DVDs and I don't know if the tapes would last that long. It'll be a miracle if they're still playable after THIS long (the hurricane occurred over 14 months ago).

I started with a tape named "Paul's Home Movies - Tape 5". I heard audio, but there was no video. Not good. I'll try it again later and hope for a better result.

Next I tried a tape named "Paul's Videos - Tape 1". This contains various short films and stuff I made while I was in high school. This one played near-perfectly! A complete 180 degrees from the other tape. The image below shows one of my Ghostbusters mini-movies playing on my TV. I made these in the early-1990s using my Kenner toys, and doing all of the voices myself. Before you ask, NO, THESE WILL NEVER APPEAR ONLINE! It was embarrassing just watching it while copying it.

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At this point I've only done two tapes out of 42. I was really hoping to get more done, but I have a feeling that this project will take longer than I thought. Also, I don't think I need to take any more photos for this, so don't expect any photos in future status updates on the VHS salvaging.


May 22, 2014:
Yesterday and today I was able to get most of the family home movie tapes copied onto new tapes (12 tapes copied so far). Eventually I'll look into getting them onto DVDs, but right now I'll be happy with getting them onto brand new tapes that weren't submerged in water. There were only 3 home movie tapes out of 15 that wouldn't play. The reels inside literally would not move in either direction. I was also able to copy the episodes of The Caroline Rhea Show which featured my family in the audience (Caroline wished my sister a happy birthday at the end), and the episode of Playboy TV's The Weekend Flash where I was mentioned in one segment. I also had no problems copying some special wrestling programs: the last episode of WCW Nitro (3/26/2001), and the WWF Raw episode in which WWF buys WCW (3/26/2001). However, my copy of the WWE Raw Chris Benoit Tribute episode (6/25/2007) wouldn't play, but I think I may be able to get a copy of it and the other tribute shows that got ruined from some kind folks in the wrestling fan community. I started on The Real Ghostbusters tapes, copying the alternate episodes that aren't in the TimeLife DVD set. The tapes recorded in SLP/EP speed played very badly, and then after that I couldn't get the VCRs I'm using for playing to play the tapes anymore. I think I may have put enough damaged tapes in them that I trashed them. I'll buy a few more used VCRs in a week or two from some White Elephant Sales and I'll try again.


August 23, 2014:
Using some new used VCRs I bought back in June, I finished coping the last three home movie tapes. I actually had to unscrew the rusted screws on each tape and unstick the tape inside in order to get them to play. The copies didn't come out perfect, but they're a LOT better than could be expected, and certainly better than nothing. I now feel like that part of the project is completed and the ruined originals can be thrown out. Kinda sad to throw them out, but there's no reason to keep them. Here's a photo of all of my family's home movie VHS tapes. The 10 in the top two rows were undamaged, and the bottom 15 are the new copies. The "Psych" stuffed pineapple sitting atop this VHS tower I made in high school was something I bought for my father from the NBC Store in Rockefeller Center when my family went into New York City last year.

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All that's left to *try* to salvage is the one tape with the WWE Raw Chris Benoit Tribute episode (and the WWE ECW show the next night), and the 21 Real Ghostbusters tapes that have episodes that aren't on the TimeLife DVD set (half alternate, half wrong speed). Thankfully, these are not totally irreplacable, like the home movies. If I can't salvage them, I can try contacting other fans. I'm pretty sure other wrestling fans have the Benoit episodes, and I know someone who will help me with the RGB eps, but they're not in a position to help right now.

So, I'll still try to see what I can do with these tapes, but at least I know that I have options if I have no luck.


October 1, 2014:
Well, that's it. I made one more attempt to play-and-copy (salvage) the remaining Real Ghostbusters VHS tapes, and I was only able to save one more episode and one scene, and that was not with the best results. The first half of the "Short Stuff" work-in-progress tape has no video, and the second half has defective video. Even a one-minute alternate music scene from "A Fright At The Opera" didn't play without defects. So, of all of the episodes, I was able to copy, with varying degrees of success, all of the episodes with alternate audio (redubbed, music), and the bridge version of "Attack of the B-Movie Monsters". I couldn't copy any of the original Season 4 ABC recordings of the episodes that are played too fast or too slow in the DVD set (Vol. 4).

It's now almost two years since the hurricane stuck, so these tapes have sat damaged for that long. I don't have the patience to play games with these tapes anymore. I've tried several times since January, with at least six different VCRs for playing, and if I can't get all of the episodes I want from them at this point, then I deem them unsalvagable. The six contaminated VCRs, the contaminated tape rewinder, and the tapes have all be thrown out. It's nice to have that free space back again in front of my entertainment center.

Nora (from the now-defunct Ghostbusters Fan Forum) said she could help make me new copies of the episodes, but it'll probably be a few years before she can dig out the tapes and buy new equipment, etc. - and that's not necessarily a guarantee that it'll definitely happen. I have most/all of the alternate audio tracks (and one or two small videos) recorded on the computer, with varying degrees of quality, from before the hurricane. If I have enough webspace, or space at Dropbox, I might publish those files and see if anyone in the community with video skills can do something with them and the DVD video.

These tapes were the last thing to try to salvage from the hurricane. So, at this point, the salvaging project can finally be considered COMPLETED!
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