Ernest Hooper: Goody Goody stars in latest documentary by Tampa’s video historian

Published August 14 2018
Updated August 15 2018

I donít know if she can outrace a giant boulder, navigate perilous pitfalls to capture a hidden idol or beat back Nazi soldiers intent on evil.

Iím not even sure if she can deftly handle a whip, or fit a fedora over her salt-and-pepper hair.

Yet in many ways, film producer and writer Lynn Marvin Dingfelder is Tampa Bayís Indiana Jones, always striving to find the cityís hidden jewels.

Her quest to record the areaís history in stirring documentaries may not be as dangerous as entering the Temple of Doom, but as a treasure hunter, sheís the equal of the character made famous by Harrison Ford.

With business partner Larry Wiezycki, the director/editor sheís quick to credit, her Creative On Main Street company already has created an inspiring collection of documents.

The Emmy-Award winning JFK in Tampa chronicled the presidentís visit to our city days before his assassination in Dallas.

The Fabulous Rockers-Forever carried a generation back to their rock Ďní roll heyday.

The Frank Rey Dance Studio: Six Decades of Dance showcased how a small studio can play a big role in the lives of its students.

Like the fictional Jones, however, Dingfelder doesnít seek valued memories to profit from them, but to preserve them.

"Iím not in for the riches," Dingfelder said. "Iím in it for the reward of people saying ĎGood job.í"

Dingfelder and Wiezycki debut their latest effort at 2 p.m. on Saturday in Tampa Theatre. Goody Goody: Past, Present and Future delves into the history of the iconic burger restaurant and the efforts of Columbia Restaurant president Richard Gonzmart to revive it.

Through archival black-and-white film footage, enchanting interviews and modern-day GoPro technology, the duo seeks to weave together the magic of the original Goody Goody with the Gonzmartís ambitious bid to bring it back to life.

In the process, they discovered not only an abiding love for Goody Goody burgers and the "secret sauce," but that the restaurant proved to be a place of romance. First dates, makeout sessions and even marriage proposals occurred over a Goody Goody meal.

Manny Alvarez, with his wife and former Tampa councilwoman Mary Alvarez by his side, confessed, "You could smooch" when the waitresses walked away from the car at the drive-in side.

"I love hearing that special story," Dingfelder said. "Thereís a warmth that touches someoneís heart."

Itís the stories that serve as a thread, connecting all of Creative on Main Streetís documentaries. People entrust Dingfelder and Wiezycki with old 8 mm footage and cherished photos, but they also entrust them with their memories, their real-life tales.

Itís a responsibility that Dingfelder says they donít take for granted. She says she operates with a sense of urgency

"As I get older, itís really important to save these stories because when some of these people are gone, theyíll take their stories with them," Dingfelder said. "Our documentaries are like little magnifying glasses on what life was like back then."

And life back then was simpler, sweeter. Hard times? Yes, but also good times when people made eye contact, held friendly conversations and never got distracted by smart phones.

Dingfelder sets out to capture the essence of the moments, always mindful of the pressure to get it right. The archeologist of memories must be careful to preserve these nostalgic artifacts.

"The journalist in me really works very hard not to please people, but to get it accurate," said Dingfelder, a former television reporter and producer. "Iím just a vessel, and Iím blessed they trust me with their memories.

"Theyíre really puzzle pieces, and we have to put them together. I love my job."

That love fuels other projects. An upcoming documentary will focus on three artists in Indian Rocks Beach whose works helped preserve historic beach cottages in that community.

And another effort will highlight the glory that was Championship Wrestling From Florida. Everybody who recalls the Gordon Solie saying, "television time remaining," and Jack Briscoe using the figure four must be salivating.

As for the Goody Goody project, Dingfelder is nervously excited.

Just as Gonzmart experienced anxiety before opening the "new" Goody Goody in Hyde Park, Dingfelder admits to being a bit eager about how people will respond to their newest film.

Yet if past performance is the best indicator of future outcomes, Dingfelder likely has another jewel for her growing museum.

Tampa Bayís treasure-hunting filmmaker canít be stopped, and thatís a great thing for todayís citizens and generations to come.

Thatís all Iím saying.