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.
Margaret D arrived at Willard with almost her entire household as well as her car. Which in this case was a Dodge Brothers Coupe that she bought new in 1934. Here is what Hemmings has to say about it. An amazing automobile.
This is the first page of the notebook where she kept track of trips that she took in it. I am quite familiar with the first legs of the journey, having grown up in Western Pennsylvania. Especially the Salamanca, NY to Bradford, PA leg. And my great friend and college roommate Gail grew up in Ridgeway, where I have spent quite a bit of time.
I am just blown away when I think about the stories contained in these suitcases. Thanks for following along with me.
I have known my friend Alex Ross for a very long time. He has been an influence on me in more ways than I can list here. Although we don’t live near each other, we speak on the phone on most days. When I first started thinking of myself as a photographer, it was Alex whose eye I most admired. He just sees things in a way that no other photographer does. He sends me prints from time to time, but more often will send an image through email. Last night he attached this shot to a note about creativity. He said nothing about it, it was just at the bottom of the email as if it was an afterthought. It just blew me away, and I thought it would be nice to share it on this cold Monday morning. Thanks Alex, for everything.
Yesterday we had a very productive day shooting more of Margaret D’s possessions. Every once in a while, something completely unexpected pops up. Among the many photographs in Margaret’s collection was this picture postcard. It was so unlike everything else that she had that it was a bit of a shock. There was no information on the back, but I thought I immediately knew the identity of the woman in the bathing suit. Peg wasn’t so sure. So I am opening it up for all of you to help us figure out who this is. In a few days, I will post my guess, along with more images from the shoot. As I mentioned before, Margaret came to Willard with almost an entire household. It will take us months to get through it all, but is a remarkable look into her life.
Wow, my sister Karen nailed it. Ann Miller. Look in the comments to see the other responses. Here is the original that she tracked down on the web.
Thanks Sis! And I owe Peggy a beer. My money was on Bess Myerson.
I uploaded William G’s case to the willardsuitcases.com site today. There is a lot of history here. The Fort Randolph towels give a hint as to where his military service occurred. And he must have had some connection to the Boy Scouts.
You can check out more of what he chose to bring to Willard with him here. This is one of my favorite collections.