Willard Suitcase #18
As I mentioned in my earlier post, I have completed the initial shooting portion of the project. These cases belonged to Frank C.
This foot locker was not wrapped in the usual way. I am guessing it was a bit too large.
Frank was a pretty interesting guy. I know a bit more about him than some of the others.
His two cases contained an interesting mix of practical items and remnants of his military life.
Again, I have had to obscure his surname for legal reasons.
Many items referenced the fact that he lived in Brooklyn for much of his adult life.
I am always interested in the ephemeral aspects of the possessions of the Willard residents. It is always a bit frustrating to have so little time to look through the printed materials. I could easily get lost in the War Department’s Basic Field Manual.
So many cool shipping tags.
I wonder what sort of idea this sketch reflects. It was the only drawing of this sort in the case.
The rubber stamp is interesting, and the blue box contained some kind of laxative. I’m pretty sure it was Ex-Lax.
There were several layers to this trunk. The above items were from a shelf that sat inside the case covering up the contents on the bottom.
I tend to not think much about the practical aspects of life during war time, like rationing. It is good to reminded of such things. It makes me realize how little we are asked to sacrifice in the face of what’s going on in our world.
This gun was a toy. I have no idea what the plastic items above it are. Someone out there must know.
Frank had a lot of these small photo booth pics. There are more in his other case which you can see below. He was a very handsome gentleman.
Ok, I am about to look up “catarrh”.
Frank’s military clothing was in amazing condition. No moth holes; each item looked almost new.
The underwear was especially pristine. So even though there is clear evidence that he served in the Army there isn’t much sign of wear on his uniform.
Clothing always presents the biggest challenge for me to shoot. To the point where I really grumble a bit when a case contains lots of it (Ask Peg). I always try to avoid over arranging the objects and the clothes present a problem that I am not too skilled at solving. It is why I shoot lots of details. This tie was tied when we came to this shirt.
Buttons. (Is is obvious I’m running out of things to say? It usually happens with these post with tons of pictures. Sorry.
Here’s Frank’s other case from the collection.
Since I have been shooting some of the larger trunks that are not wrapped, I have been missing the materials used to preserve the smaller cases. It was nice to see the cotton string again.
There were more clothes in this case including these bathing trunks and a brand new white cotton union suit that still had the label attached.
As well as several wooden coat hangars; this one from Max Moscowitz’s store.
Among my most favorite items are handkerchiefs, especially ones with art deco designs.
The remainder of the papers we found mostly relate to wartime issues.
The question of why all of these items were saved is mostly moot to me, as is the broader question of what was going on in his life before Willard. It is just so interesting to look at his possessions and build up some idea of his world (that may or not be at all accurate). And ultimately what I have figured out from this project is that each of us who views these remnants of his life can come to our own conclusions. He was a real person and people are complicated, so even those who knew Frank well didn’t have the whole story. Including the psychiatrists who treated him at Willard.
There were a couple of complete New York Daily News pages in his things. They must have been at the bottom of the larger trunk since there are no folds. I once spent a couple of days in Aachen and it is a beautiful little town
I’m runnin’ out of steam a bit, so I’ll wrap it up. Not sure if it is possible to read the letter on the left with the blue ink but it is from Frank’s sister and obviously came after a visit to his home in West Virginia.
And finally, a few more pictures of some of the women in his life. So evocative and so beautiful.
So thanks for following and staying with me on this. I will no doubt post more as I work through the editing process, although probably not in as extensive a way as I have done here. Most of my energy will be spent on figuring out how to display the photographs for the Exploratorium exhibit, and then figuring out some way to publish a book. Cheers everyone, and thanks again for all your encouragement and support.