Well, this seems to be it. This past Monday when we started our last day of shooting we expected to have just one remaining case with which to work. There were a few names on our master list that we didn’t photograph, but with a collection of over 400 suitcases, we figured that one or two were bound to be unaccounted for.
John M’s suitcase had just come back from the Exploratorium and we were eager to finish with his things. This woolen suit with two pair of trousers was unlike any other we had seen.
It was in pretty good shape, with the exception of this little hole. I don’t think it was a moth problem, but maybe he just caught it on a nail. Love the blue thread that runs through the weave.
We had shut off the strobes and were ready to pack up when we decided to look through the “institutional” items in the collection. (We are trying to decide whether or not to photograph these objects as well.) Peg spotted a box mixed in with the others that contained Lawrence R’s suitcase, so we fired everything up and got back to work.
Lawrence’s case was a really nice one. It contained quite a few letters, and some newspaper clippings. I like the headline here; “Cats Call Truce in War on Rats…” and there is a mention of goats underneath the photo. My friend Tania Werbizky is responsible for introducing me to Willard many years ago, and she loves both cats and goats. So this is a little thank you to her.
I also want to take a moment to give my heartfelt thanks the New York State Museum for allowing me access to the collection. But most of all I want to thank all of you who have been following along with me. I have learned so much from the comments you have posted, and from the very moving emails I have received from people who share with me their own struggles with mental health issues. And as I have said so many times before, I could not, and would not have been able to complete this work without the assistance and encouragement of Peggy Ross. She has added so much to all aspects of the project, and deserves the lion’s share of the credit.
Even though the shooting is finished, the work is far from over, and in some ways it is just the beginning. I will continuously be editing the photos and uploading them to the willardsuitcases.com site. I’ll continue to travel and speak about the suitcases and will be posting here where those talks are happening. There will undoubtedly be exhibits and I will be actively pursuing publishers. There has been so much call for a book, and am hopeful that a publisher will be found.
So, it is onward we go. Thank you all so much.
There is a very interesting article in today’s Finger Lakes Times. Here is the link. It brings up the whole issue of names and honoring those who lived and worked at Willard, and is well worth the read.
I shot Theresa’s case recently and it contained some interesting articles. If anyone out there can tell me for what “Banana Liquid” was used, I’ll send you a postcard. Reply in comments and I will get in touch and ask for a mailing address.
I went into town this evening to meet Cris for a meal, and parked next to this. I had a vague memory of posting a similar car a few years ago and was kind of amazed to see another. This model looked even cheesier than the previous one.
And it also had the seemingly useless snaps built into the lovely chrome trim piece. It’s the little things I guess, but it kind of made my day.
I had fun today photographing models of boats at the Tilghman Waterman’s Museum, as well as a great collection of oyster cans that Mark Sadler brought in. I really liked the typeface on this can, and the utensil on top was designed to open the can and then spoon out the oysters.
It rained very hard in the afternoon (tornado warnings for a bit) and then it cleared. Around sunset, more clouds came in and the light was beautiful. This shot was taken just off Bar Neck Road. When the tide is high and the wind is coming from the south, the road is often underwater. It has been a very wet winter on the island. / Ham and oyster dinner at the church tomorrow night and then into DC to see Peter.
I am back on Tilghman’s Island (some call it Tilghman Island; it’s kind of confusing as the town is Tilghman, MD but most of the older watermen call it Tilghman’s). I set up my lights and background and Willie Roe came by with his collection of items that he dredged up during his clamming days on Chesapeake Bay.
He has a huge assortment of 19th century clay pipes.
I especially like this one with Etoile etched into it and the lovely little star above the word.
Many of the pipes had the words HOME RULE stamped upon the bowl. Here is what I found when I looked it up on the internet. So amazing what you can learn about the past.
I was at Yale today talking about the suitcases to Jessica Helfand’s freshman seminar class on visual biography. She was one of the first people to connect with the project and has been a huge supporter from the get-go. This is the third year I have spoken to the class and it always helpful to get feedback from the students on my work with the cases. / After the class I usually head over to the School of Medicine Library and visit The Cushing Center. It is one of the most amazing displays of someone’s life one can ever see. I have posted about it here and here, and if any of you are in New Haven, it is absolutely not to be missed. / Thanks to Jessica and her students for a great day.
The New York State Museum did an amazing job conserving and cataloguing the suitcase collection. Three staffers did most of the work. Sarah Jastremsky, Christine Allen, and Kara Chambers worked for months on the project, and they each had their own style of wrapping. I have never been able to tell who did which case, but they all did an amazing job. This particular case represents one of those distinctive styles. / Peg and I always try very hard to return the suitcases to their original condition once we are done shooting.
And it is she who does most the work in this regard. Here is the result of rewrapping Leo R’s case; very close to the original and equally effective. She looks very proud and happy in this picture, as well she should. / From time to time I mention Peg in these posts and it bears saying again that I would have a very hard time doing this work without her help. She deserves a lot of the credit for what you see here and on willardsuitcases.com and I am so grateful that she is a partner on the project.
Leo’s case was one of many leather grips that we have photographed. There wasn’t much in it, but what was there was great. You can see by the label that he was admitted on 25 June, 1954.
I have never seen a Vaseline tube in this color. I wish they would have kept using it, as it is a shade of green that knocks me out.
I have been adding more cases to the suitcases site. Eleanor G’s just went up, which one of the larger collections of photographs. I’ll have more posted by the end of the week, just click on “The Cases” at the top of the page. Thanks for checking it out.
Peter and I had an interesting “one-two” today. We had lunch at Ben’s Chili Bowl (amazing) and then headed down to the Mall to check out the events surrounding the 50th anniversary of the “I have a dream speech”. Ben’s had CSPAN on so we were able to see some of the proceedings on TV which was really great.
We got to the area near the Washington Monument just as the President started speaking. We were way back, but it was nice to be a part of the crowd. I really love DC. It is such an interesting city.
I also want to add a note to yesterday’s post. The document in the Shanghai Garden window is actually a “permit to raze”, which really bums me out. Once that little building is gone, it is gone for good. I am so glad I got to grab a photo before it was demolished.
We went to see the Sox last night and it was a very interesting evening. A make-up day game was scheduled for 1 pm. It started raining in the bottom of the 5th so it was delayed for three hours. Out tickets were for 7 pm but due to the delay, the Sox allowed anyone with a ticket for the night game to watch the end of the first game which restarted at around 6.00. Kind of confusing, I know, but we went in, watched them win the early one, cleared out of the park, came back in and watched ours start at 8.00. The Sox led 1-0 until the top of the ninth when the Rays tied it up on a solo home run. Jonny Gomes hit a walk off in the bottom of the ninth to win it. It was a beautiful evening and the rain held off until the drive home.
This morning we drove Peter to New Haven to catch the train back to DC. We had a great week with him. The underground walkway to the platforms at the station is a bit outer spacey.
After his train left Cris and I drove to West Haven to walk along the sound and enjoy the beautiful day. There is a lovely park with a walking/bike path along the beach. We saw some old guys playing bocce ball and trash talking. It was very sweet and familiar. The above view made me a bit sad, as Dave’s Arcade-Carousel must have been very cool when it was still here. You can tell the original sign just said “Arcade-Carousel” but someone got some stick-on letters to memorialize Dave. He probably deserves the kind thought.
My favorite soap is Pears. I have used it for the last 25 or so years. Some time ago the company was bought by Unilever and the original formula was changed. I noticed a difference as did most other users. (Here’s a link to an amusing piece in the Guardian.) I was bummed, but have gotten used to the new smell and feel. Yesterday I was cleaning out my bathroom cabinets and came across this soap dish way in the back on a shelf. When I opened it I was happy to find a bar of the original Pears that had been abandoned well before the change. / It’s the little things, I guess, that sometimes can make life a bit brighter.