I am often asked if I have a favorite suitcase or photo from the project. I don’t, really. But one recurring theme is the idea of knots. It started initially with the string that the museum used to secure the archival paper that helps to preserve each case. But soon I started to see them in the possessions of the patients, especially the clothing. Peg and I worked on more of Margaret D’s things yesterday, and this shot of a beautiful camisole shows a lovely little knot tied near one of the straps.
Here is an example from the outside of Eleanor G’s case.
I have been uploading more case to the willardsuitcases.com site. Check it out if you haven’t been there lately.
Peter and I were hoping for some cherry blossom action today, but it was about a week too early. It was a beautiful day for a stroll, and the crowds were out. As we were starting to walk around the Tidal Basin I asked him if he knew anything about Fanne Fox and Wilbur Mills and the famous incident that happened in 1974. I was hoping for a “History Happened Here” plaque, but no such luck so we sat on a bench overlooking the water and read about it on my phone. What a great story, and the amazing thing is that Mills won his next reelection campaign in spite of it all.
As I mentioned, the blossoms were just about ready to pop.
The only ones that were out were on this tree, and there was a queue to get the shot.
When I was a kid, I used to love playing around with cherry tree sap. I haven’t thought about doing that for ages.
We were thrilled to stumble across the new Martin Luther King Jr. monument. It is really powerful, with lots of King quotes sprinkled about.
We kept on walking around the tidal basin and soon came to the FDR Memorial, which we had also never seen. I love this sign for the restrooms. Kind of surprising that they didn’t include an ideogram of someone in a wheelchair.
The Nationals held their last exhibition game of the Spring today at Nats Park. Peter and I got a couple of $15.00 seats (row X, section 234) and had a great time. It was quite cool and very windy, but hey…baseball! Nationals fans got the chance to boo A-Rod and see him strike out three times, which seemed to make them happy. The Yankees were down early, came back in the 8th, and ended up winning 4-3. The crowd was listed at over 36,000, which for a pre-season game was great. Red Sox open on Monday in Philadelphia and the first game at Fenway is against the Nationals on the 13th (if all the snow has melted).
I am in DC for a few days. Yesterday I hung out with my friend Peter Carroll and his brother Alan while they sorted through their late mom Elli’s photographs. Peter is doing a bit of an imitation of Elli’s friend Giancarlo, who featured in quite a few of the photos. Here is a link from the Holocaust Museum that talks about Elli’s life. She was a wonderful and fascinating person and I always enjoyed seeing her, and from time to time going to lunch at The Pines of Rome in Bethesda.
In recent years, Elli lived at the Westchester. It is a beautiful pre-war complex not far from the Cathedral, with amazing details like this peep hole in the door.
I am often asked about the annual tour of the Willard grounds, and I now have some tentative information about this year’s event. It is a fundraiser for the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Children’s Center, which is on the grounds of the old asylum. Here is a link to their Facebook page, where they will post details. It is tentatively set for the 16th of May. If you plan to attend, get there early as it is usually very crowded.
Additionally, the Willard Cemetery Memorial project is holding an event that same day in honor of Lawrence Mocha. Here is a link to a Finger Lakes Times article that includes some details.
I hope to attend each event, and would be happy to see any of you who can make it. Thanks to Mark for the tip about the Lawrence Mocha event.
The above picture is one I took in May of 1984 on my first visit to photograph inside Chapin House on the Willard grounds.
I was really happy to have an assignment in Stockbridge Hall today. It gave me the chance to visit one of the best public toilets in the area. The building was built in 1915, and most of this room seems original. One of the sinks on the left is missing but the space is otherwise mostly intact. Look at those urinals! / Here is a different angle↓.
It is really rare to find a bathroom in an institutional setting that hasn’t been completely destroyed by modernization. This room would be so easy to restore to its original state, but given that it is on the grounds of a public university, that is something that will probably never happen. Several years ago I shot a 360° panorama in here, and unbeknownst to me, there was a guy in one of the stalls!
I started shooting the Willard Suitcases project on 17 March 2011, which is exactly four years ago today. I had no idea what I was doing, but knowing that I had access to one of the most unique collections of institutional artifacts anywhere, I figured something had to come of it. Here is a link to a post I put up the next day.
Peg and I spent the day continuing to work our way through Margaret D’s possessions.
The list above seems to be a resumé of sorts. And you can see Margaret’s will on the lower right.
A huge thank you goes out to everyone that has helped me with this work, and to those who have appreciated my efforts. All best, Jon
The annual Smith College Spring Bulb Show always runs early in March, and Cris and I were able to go this morning.
It is always amazing.
After the winter we have had here in the Northeast, walking into a greenhouse and seeing these flowers is beyond description.
There are always tons of tulips.
As well as tiny little guys like these ↑.
Some of the tulips have these erose edges. So delicate.
I love how these little flowers are lined up in a row.
That’s a pretty tulip ↑.
Though I always gravitate more toward the greens and yellows.
And there are usually a few that are showing off the business parts of the flower. To me, it feels a bit like I’m seeing something that should be private.
I’ll close out with a couple of tulips.
Thinking of Hank, as I know he has a Smith College connection. Hi Hank, wish you were here.
We have been learning quite a bit about Margaret’s life before she came to Willard. She worked at Herman M. Biggs Memorial Hospital in Ithaca as a nurse, and at some point had some sort of surgery. There were a large number of get well cards in the boxes we worked on yesterday, many of which had lovely personal notes on the inside. It was clear that she was very well liked by her friends and co-workers.
As I have mentioned before, Margaret came to Willard with almost everything she had accumulated up to that point in her life. Yesterday we came across her 1939 and 1940 1040A forms and quite a few photographs. Inside of a photo envelope labeled “Easter Greetings” was a picture of the car that I mentioned in this post.
In the same envelope was a photograph of the hospital in Ithaca where she once worked. / Peggy Ross was especially helpful yesterday, and I wanted to thank her again for all her hard work on the project. Her organizational skills are only outweighed by her cheerful spirit, which when shooting in a darkish and chilly storage facility is very much welcomed.
There has been quite a bit of attention to the project lately and with many new folks coming to this site, I wanted to remind everyone that I am continually uploading earlier shoots to the willardsuitcases.com site. Check it out if you haven’t been there lately, and thanks for following.
We needed space in the freezer, so it seemed a good day to make another vegetable stock. Here’s some history about when this got started. I usually do it outside on the gas grill, but the idea of having the smell wafting throughout the house was appealing. I had been saving rinds from Parmesan cheese so those were added to the veg scraps. It cooked for about 5 hours and is amazing. Should help to make a lovely risotto.