found history 1

There is a two-block stretch down Ferber Avenue. You know it well. All of the businesses in that stretch are shuttered now, victims of the hapless recession that always kills small towns.

This stretch didn’t always have businesses, though. The building in the very center, the one that still seems out of place with the rest, that was the home of Tessie Van der Steen. She was the daughter of a newspaper mogul back when the press came to this town.

The Van der Steens hailed from what is now the tiny nation of Lichtenstein. Her father, Georges, had written several unfavorable stories about the royal family and so he packed up his family  and they fled to the New Mid West, where he hoped he would find true freedom of the press. What he found instead was no press.

img_3226Tessie was nine years old, the only child to have survived of 15 born to Georges and his wife, Emilia.  Naturally, Tessie was doted on by her parents, who could hardly find reason to say no to her many whims. She was given extraordinary leeway considering her being an only child, and a girl. When she was old enough, she joined her father on his travels and adventures, and she was given a typography machine of her very own to maintain records of these travels.

img_3224Depicted here is the last of her personal typewriters, which she abandoned altogether, after she switched to the newly emerging art of motion picture capture. But that’s a later story.

img_3225It was on one such adventure that she met the man who would change her life – the  renowned animal naturalist, Altan Macar. Together, they tracked and recorded more animal behavior than anyone had before. It was their groundbreaking work that would lead to the creation of the Animal Geographic Society.

img_3227Naturally, it is with tremendous excitement that we announce to you a most wondrous find! Tucked away behind a false wall in the old Van der Steen home, we have found the films of Tessie and Altan’s treks to jungles seldom seen by other humans, including the fatal trip of ’74 during which they were both – well, we don’t want to spoil the fun or the surprise for you. You’ll just have to see it for yourself. This is the only one that was filmed by their daughter, Sofia, who took up permanent residence in the family home until her death last year. Nobody knows for certain why she hid these films behind the wall, or why a false wall even existed, but we are confident that when we unveil this shocking footage, there will be no question as to why Sofia left the family business.


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