Cris and I will often sit out on the deck and have a drink at the end of the day. For the last week or so, I have been looking at this white birch and seeing eyes looking at me. (Maybe it’s the beer.) It’s not creepy or anything, but it makes me think of people who claim to see Jesus’s image on a potoato chip or in a coffee stain on their stove-top. If you can’t quite see it, just squint or take off your eyeglasses.
I was back in Rotterdam last week to photograph more suitcases from Willard Asylum. Check this out for the background of the project.
I am slowly beginning to formulate a plan for how to proceed.
Even though an inventory of each case has been prepared by the museum, I prefer not to know the contents before I begin taking pictures.
There is something about being surprised by what’s inside that helps me connect with the person.
And I want the connection because I am trying to say something about the lives they lived before arriving at the asylum.
Anna’s first case contained mostly clothes.
I believe the inventory was done just as she arrived at Willard.
The museum is very careful about caring for each individual item.
Anna had some really beautiful clothes.
Just about all of her clothes had nametags, which I have to assume were sewn in before her time at Willard.
Below is the second of her cases.
This one had fewer clothes and more personal items.
For some reason, I really like the paper that the museum uses to protect the cases and their contents.
I especially like the design of this one.
When I photographed the abandoned buildings on the earlier project, I tried never to move items that I came across. This is so different for me as I need to lay the items out in order to photograph, but I don’t want to make the arrangements look too studied. I actually work very fast when I am shooting.
This case contained several hats, and an incredible pair of shoes.
There were also some indications of her life before Willard.
The hair pin packaging is beautiful.
I am not sure if the residents of Willard had access to their possessions during the time they were living there, but somehow I think not. So this letter would probably have been received before she arrived.
And since it was not addressed to Anna, I wonder about its importance to her.
Thanks so much to Craig Williams at the New York State Museum for allowing me access. As I mentioned in the earlier post, I would really appreciate any feedback. I still don’t have an outlet for this work, and no funds to jump into it in any concerted manner, but I hope to keep chipping away. There is alot of information about the people attached to these suitcases and should I go much further with the project, I would like to be able to include some biographical background to accompany the photos.
Thanks to everyone who has sent along condolences about Mavis. We are really missing her, especially Pearl. / We walk alot near the UMASS track facility and just close to where we park the car is a small pond that starts out very clear in the Spring and over the Summer becomes filled with some kind of very green algae. For a while this family of ducks was hanging around. They couldn’t be bothered by the fact that we were checking them out.
I think Pieper was the first person I knew that wore Walk-Over Bucks. They were part of the uniform of a small group of us in Ithaca in the 70′s. Bucks, blue jeans, oxford shirt, and sometimes a tie if you were working or otherwise trying to fit in with people who cared about those things. I must have owned at least five pairs over the years. I have a basic wardrobe rule of thumb that you can wear pretty much anything below the belt as long as you have on a clean oxford shirt and a tie, hence the blue jean/bucks combo. This particular pair was the last I was able to find. I bought them in the early 90′s at Mathew’s Shoes (long since out of business) in downtown Amherst, and I think that Walk-Over had already ceased to be by that time. I wasn’t able to find another pair anywhere and assumed that the company was done for. / In yesterday’s Times I saw an article about how this type of shoe is making a comeback and was shocked to see a pair of Walk-Overs in a photograph. Someone has resurrected the brand and they are making them again. They are now $225.00 but still probably worth the money. I break this pair out once in a while and I think it is time to take them to the local cobbler to be resoled.
I went to the Yankee game yesterday with my friend Jeff Cohen. It was probably the fastest game I have attended in the last 20 years. Both Sabathia and Shields work quickly and it was all over in 2 hours 10 minutes. It was a wacky game; Shields tried to pick a runner off 3rd and threw it away for the Yankees only run. Both pitchers allowed only 4 hits. The photo is of the last out of the game. I hope to get to Fenway soon.
If you look closely, the umpire standing on the first base line is my favorite major league umpire ever (and the only one I know by name). He has such a unique presence that you can’t miss him. I spent a lot of the game yelling out his name and clapping. / Joe West was the umpire that called Dave Roberts safe on the famous steal of second base in the ninth inning of the 2004 ALCS. (This is worth a look.) Millar’s walk, Roberts’ pinch running and “the steal”, Joe West calling him safe (and he was), then Bill Mueller’s rbi single to tie the game. Amazing baseball. / Joe was a busy man last night. After a close play at first early in the evening which resulted in the Angels’ only run, Jim Leyland rode him from the dugout the whole game. Leyland even came out between innings to jaw at him, then finally late in the game he got tossed. Lots of fun.
John Kishel knows so much about the obscure history of Southern California. We were talking about guitars the other day and he mentioned that as a kid he would send in a coupon from Boy’s Life Magazine to the Fender Guitar Company to receive a free catalogue. The address on the coupon was 1546 Chestnut, Santa Ana, Calif. Fender guitars were made in Fullerton, but in 1958 the company opened up a sales and distribution center in Santa Ana. It is interesting to think about all the incredible guitars and amps that were shipped from this building. And it sits less than 3 miles from his house. We went out for a meal tonight and stopped by for a visit on our way home.
I like being in places where cool stuff happened. The building has something to do with Culligan water treatment now and the front entrance is obviously not in use. Love the light fixtures though. They look original to the building.