Jon Crispin's Notebook

Peta Pixel/Peabody Essex Museum/Farnham’s

Posted in Architecture, Art, Asylums, Buildings, Family, Fish, Food, Fried Clams, Friends, Travel, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 18/06/2014

There was a very nice mention of the suitcases project on PetaPixel yesterday. Thanks DL Cade!

Cristine, our friend Kate, and I drove to Salem today to see the J M W Turner exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum.  It is amazing and worth the trip.  No photos allowed in the gallery, but it is a very cool museum.  Note the early Airstream trailer (lower right) that is part of the mid century LA exhibit.

We then drove up to Essex to eat some clams at Farnham’s.  For those of you who follow this site, I have posted about this place before.

The upcoming 10 days are going to be very hectic for me, so please be patient if I don’t respond directly to email.  I’ll do my best.

Willard Suitcases / Fred T / NYSHA presentation / La Repubblica

Posted in Willard Asylum, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 09/06/2014

Hi everyone.  Fred T’s suitcase is really interesting.  I have just uploaded it to the willardsuitcases.com site and you should check it out (Click on “The Cases” and then click on Fred T).  It was a great case for a lot of reasons, not the least of which it proves that many residents of Willard were free to walk the grounds and to leave on occasion.

He also clearly had an entrepreneurial spirit.

Fred’s other interest was railroads.  He made a comprehensive list of every train station in the United States.

The stations were alphabetized on these sheets of paper that were then folded into three columns.  On the open one you can see Meadville, PA, which is the town where I grew up.  My parents used to pile my siblings and me into the station wagon and we would go down to watch the evening passenger train go through.

It is poignant to see the dates on Fred’s diary.  It makes his life seem all the more real to me.  Sunday the 11th April, 1926 was a day that Fred wrote about, and now we are able to learn something about his life more than 88 years later .  Amazing

This coming Saturday morning (14 June), Karen Miller and I will be talking about our work with the suitcases at the annual conference of the New York State Historical Association.  It will be held at Marist College in Poughkeepsie.  There is a Saturday only fee of $25.00 to attend, but it would be great to see any of you who could make it.  Karen will be reading some of her poems and I will talk about my work with the cases.

Finally, the Italian site La Repubblica did a very nice spread on the project.  Check it out here.  Thanks Agnese!

Willard Suitcases / Agnes M / White Star Britannic

Posted in Boats, Family, History, Ocean Liners, Ships, Transportation, Travel, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 05/06/2014

Peggy and I had a very productive day shooting the suitcases yesterday.  We are continuing to make great progress, and still have hopes that we can finish all the cases by the end of the year.

I have always been fascinated by the labels that are on some of the cases and this one is particularly interesting.  The White Star Line has an interesting history and even though there is a bit of confusion about the name of the ship here, I am quite sure it is the Britannic.  (On the label it seems to say Britanica, but when I did an online search only Britannic came up.)  The “Sailing from” line is very difficult to read, but it looks to be Qu….town (Queenstown?) and the sailing date is “Sep 28″.  The port of landing (such a quaint phrase) is definitely New York.  You can see the U.S. Customs sticker in the shot below.

So, as usual, lots of questions come up and I am hoping that anyone who knows about ocean liners and travel might have some suggestions about what route this might have been for Agnes M.  If any of you want to do some serious work on this, I can email a high res file of the label.

Karen Miller, my friend who is using the cases and their owners as a basis for writing amazing poems was in Rotterdam with us yesterday, and she and I realized that we were both passengers on the SS United States in 1957.  She was on her way to the UK to live there for a year with her family, and I was returning from some months in Europe and the UK with my family.  I posted about that trip here.

Kickstarter Rewards

Posted in History, Willard Asylum, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 02/06/2014

Today I finished printing all the smaller prints for the backers of my Kickstarter campaign.  I posted an update on my KS page for backers, but I wanted to mention it here as well.  I LOVE printing these images.  There is something about how they look on paper, as opposed to the computer screen, that knocks me out.  I have printed extras as I usually do, and for any of you who missed out on the campaign and would like to be a part of the project, I would be open to selling prints.  Just shoot me an email or comment below and I will be happy to talk about pricing.  I’ll start stuffing and addressing envelopes tomorrow.  Thanks for all the interest in the project and have a great week.

Willard Suitcase / Delmar H. / Willard Tour

Posted in Abandoned Buildings, Willard Asylum, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 13/05/2014

It has been a while since I have posted any suitcases.  It is never far from my mind, but there is a lot going on in other areas of my life.  There seems to be an uptick in interest for some reason.  What usually happens is that a blog or website picks it up and it starts spreading anew.  Greetings to new viewers. /  I have always loved cases with exotic travel labels, and Delmar’s had a few.

I wonder when he went to South America.

I will be at Willard this Saturday for the annual tour.  I would encourage any of you who live nearby to come.  There is a$10.00 admission, and it is a rare chance to get into some of the buildings and wander around the cemetery.  There are two tours; 9.00 AM and 1.00 PM.  I will be at the one in the afternoon .  Here is a link with information.  Hope to see you there.

Tiny Daffodils

Posted in Flowers, Nature, Newspapers, Willard Suitcases, Writers by joncrispin on 27/04/2014

Good morning everyone.  The New York Times doesn’t come until after 9.00 on Sundays so I wander around waiting for it to show up.  These daffs are just outside the back door so after my third time checking for the paper, I realized I should take a picture and post it here. /  I am at the beginning of a week where I plan to spend maximum time in my studio cleaning, organizing, and generally getting rid of stuff I haven’t used in years.  I started yesterday and it feels great.  Back to shooting suitcases tomorrow and am very excited to be going with Ilan Stavans, as he has an interest in a particular case.  Wishing you all a great week, and early delivery of your Sunday paper.

Willard Suitcases / John R

Posted in Abandoned Buildings, Asylums, Willard Asylum, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 22/04/2014

Near the end of a day’s shooting yesterday I asked Peg how many suitcases she thought we had photographed.  She went to her computer and checked the database.  We were up to 248 (out of 420) with two left to do before we shut down for the day.   So we are well past the halfway point, and I was really cheered that we have made it so far.  I shot the first case in March of 2011 and haven’t really been paying attention to the numbers, so it was a very pleasant surprise to see our progress.

John’s briefcase is particularly interesting, with a varied collection of items.  All of the onionskin papers in the background are English language word and sentence exercises.  It is possible he worked at General Electric for a time as he saved the pension and insurance plan brochures.  And he was clearly a fan of the Lone Ranger and Tonto, Dwight Eisenhower, Mickey Rooney as well as cheesecake shots of women.  The reporter’s notebook is especially interesting as it is full of a stream of conscious like composition in  his beautiful handwriting.

Thanks for all the support and interest in the project.  Cheers,  Jon

Willard Suitcases / Anna H / Talk in Albany

Posted in History, Jon Crispin, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 03/04/2014

After a bit of a break, we were back to shooting more of the suitcases yesterday.  It was a productive day, and after the intensity of the Kickstarter appeal, it was nice to be back to doing what is the most important part of the project.

Anna’s case was in nice condition and the wicker pattern was lovely.

For those of you in the Albany area, I would love to see you at a presentation I will be giving at The University at Albany next Thursday the 10th.  I will be talking about the suitcases and some of my other work to Katherine Van Acker’s class on documentary studies.  Here are the details:  Uptown Campus, Science Library Room SL G02, 5.45 pm.  On our way back from Rotterdam yesterday, Peg drove me around the campus so I could get my bearings, and the first thing I noticed is that parking could be very difficult.  There is a very small visitors lot (link to campus map), so if you plan on attending I would encourage you to get there early.

Again

Posted in Jon Crispin, Transportation, Travel, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 06/03/2014

In the late afternoon of 28 October, 2011 I picked up Peter at Union and he and I were heading home for the weekend.  Cristine was working in the Middle East, and the weather forecast was calling for a major storm.  I was partway through the first suitcases Kickstarter campaign, and feeling unsure as to how it would all work out.  We stopped at the first rest area on the MASS PIKE to get gas (and I think a packet of Hostess Cup Cakes).  I looked at my phone and something like 80 emails that had just come in.  I really thought there was a problem with my account and that the server was just resending old mail that I had already viewed.  When I looked closely I realized that all the email had come from Kickstarter.  They had just featured me as a “project we love”, and I immediately met my goal.   That early winter storm rolled in big time and we were without electricity for the next 2 days. Wild./  Yesterday, I was shooting the suitcases in Rotterdam and was aware that the current Kickstarter appeal was ending in the evening.  As I was driving east on the pike towards home, I stopped for gas at that same rest area, looked at my phone and saw this ($20,879 pledged with 341 backers, funding successful).  It seemed just right that I discovered that both projects had gone over the top at the same location.

Willard Suitcases Projec

This is one of yesterday’s cases.  It belonged to Joseph K.

Thank you all for your support and interest in the project.  And a huge thanks to the folks at Kickstarter for running a great organization, and providing a venue that enables independent projects like this one to be successful.

Miscellaneous Stuff

Posted in Architecture, Art, Asylums, Cities, People, Transportation, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 03/03/2014

It has seemed that for the past three weeks, my life has been consumed by the Kickstarter appeal.  It has been a great, if not intense, experience.  What I like most is that I am meeting such interesting people who are drawn to the project.  Paul Mullins is a professor of anthropology at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis, and he just posted a great piece on his wordpress site.  Here is the link.  I like how serious academics have taken to thinking and writing about the suitcases.

Last Wednesday I drove to Exeter, NH to photograph the poet Willie Perdomo for Poets & Writers Magazine.  He is an amazing guy, and we had a tremendous dialogue about art, creativity, and life in general.  The story will run in the May/June issue.  I’ll post a link when it is online.  He generously gave me a copy of his new book and I had fun reading it on the train back from New York on Saturday evening.

I was in the city for a memorial service for the husband of a good friend who I met through the suitcases project.  I am reminded again and again how way beyond photography the cases are for me.  The service was very moving, and as these events often do, it reinforced the idea that friendship, love and a simple appreciation of being alive and healthy are what it is all about.  So thanks to all of you who are reaching out.  The connections mean so much to me.

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