Jon Crispin's Notebook

Willard Suitcase #7

Posted in History, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 31/10/2011

Not all of the suitcases have much in them.  Craig suggested that I make selections from the master list, but somehow I like the surprise of not knowing what they contain.  I did make some suggestions this time, but was still surprised by what I found.

I am still drawn to the archival paper and string that is used to preserve the cases.  There is something so beautiful about how the bows are tied.

This case belonged to Raymond H.  You can see the bird droppings from when it was stored in the attic before they were saved by the museum.

I don’t always find items that tell much of a story, but something about this one caught my fancy.

It took me a few minutes to figure out what these papers were.

Rolling papers!  I hadn’t noticed the orange wrapper when I took them out of the envelope.

May 4, 1923, such a long time ago. /  Many thanks to Peggy Ross who helped me rewrap the cases and pointed out a few things that  I had missed.  And as usual to Craig for all his help.

Monday morning 6.15

Posted in Family, Travel, Weather by joncrispin on 31/10/2011

A very interesting weekend here.  Lost power here at 10 Saturday night.  Cell phone towers were down too, so no email or internet.  Drove Peter back to Union on Sunday afternoon, and finally got a signal at one of the Berkshire rest areas on the Pike.  Amazingly, skyped Cris in Gaza from my phone and she assured me she was ok, in spite of the recent hostilities.  Then saw all the email from Kickstarter backers and am just totally blown away.  So many people to respond to and thank and it will take a while.  Got back to a very dark house last night, stoked up the wood stove and lit some candles.  Power came back on just after 6.00 this morning. / Thanks to everyone for the support and encouragement; I’ll be posting an update on Kickstarter in a bit.

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Posted in Family, History, Plants by joncrispin on 25/10/2011

When I was in high school, I played soccer.  I spent alot of time practicing on fields very much like the ones near the UMASS football stadium.  We were coached by Mr Shuster, who was from eastern Massachusetts and had a very heavy New England accent. His favorite expression was “Can of corn!” which was his catch-all phrase for something that was supposed to be really easy.  At the end of the season he told me that I was the only player that he ever coached that started the early games on the first team and ended up the season not even traveling to the final away game.  I never fully understood what I had done wrong to be demoted so far, and he didn’t seem interested in explaining his logic.  It was an early example for me of having someone in a position of authority assuming I knew what was going on when I hadn’t a clue.  Anyway, I had  fun playing.   When Pearl and I were walking across the rugby pitch yesterday I looked down and saw these spike marks in the muddy grass and it brought back a flood of memories.  /  Today is St. Crispin’s Day.  I like the Olivier version best.  Check it out.  It still gives me chills.

Willard Suitcase #6

Posted in History, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 23/10/2011

This suitcase belonged to Maude K.  There seems to be some question as to her surname; on some of the tags it is spelled differently.

Three of her cases are in the collection and I shot all three but for brevity I am only posting this one.

I am starting to edit a bit more tightly for these posts since some of the cases contain a considerable amount of interesting objects.

Maude was clearly involved in crafts of some sort.

Her tools and materials are beautiful.  I would love to know if there is any record of what she produced with them.  And the question again arises as to whether or not she was able to access her case during her time at Willard.

There is definitely more information about her available through the archives, and once I have finished photographing the cases I’ll make every effort to find out more about her.

This score pad indicates that at one time she probably played bridge.  The design of these objects knocks me out.

There was still glycerine in this bottle.

The inks were mostly dried out as the corks in the tops had deteriorated almost completely.

I would be glad to know if anyone recognizes what these items could have been used for.

I liked these tweezers, and believe that the white bit at the top is ivory.

I think this glass paper-weight came from the “World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893” in Chicago.  /  Maude’s cases were really interesting.  I hope to be back in Albany sometime this week to do some more work.  For those of you seeing this for the first time, here is a link to my Kickstarter project.  Thanks, Jon


Posted in Landscape, Nature, Plants, Travel by joncrispin on 23/10/2011

When I was a kid, we called this milkweed.  When I googled it, this is what I found.  I have always liked it, and I remember taking the pods apart and blowing the white bits into the wind.  /  Cris skyped from Gaza this morning.  She and Kate had absolutely no trouble getting through the border crossing, got settled into their hotel, then went to the university for a few hours of work.

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JFK Terminal 4

Posted in Architecture, Buildings, Family, Travel by joncrispin on 22/10/2011

I drove Cris and a colleague to JFK last night.  They will be teaching at Al Azhar University in Gaza for the next two weeks.  I am a bit anxious about the whole thing, but it should be very interesting work for her.  She arrived safely in Tel Aviv this morning and we’ll see if she can make it through the crossing into the strip.  /  I love airports, especially in the early evening.


Posted in Friends, Music, People by joncrispin on 20/10/2011

I was walking the dog today and thinking about REM for some reason.  They announced a couple of weeks ago that they were calling it quits.  It brought to mind having seen them very early in their career on several occasions.  This gig was on 17 October, 1983 at a place called Drumlins somewhere just East of Syracuse.  I think it used to be some kind of country club and I believe had a connection to Syracuse University.  It was weird because the band was very late in starting and no one was sure what was going on.  At some point someone came on stage and announced that Michael Stipe had injured his eye doing something with a contact lens.  Mitch Easter’s band had opened up, and when REM finally made it onstage Michael was wearing an eyepatch.

It was a great set though.  The band had tons of energy and seemed really tight.  And lots of Rickenbackers!

Mitch Easter played with them the whole time as I remember it.  At one point Michael asked the crowd if anyone knew what a drumlin was.  (I actually knew because my girlfriend Ren seemed to know stuff like that and we had talked about it on the way up.  I was too shy to speak up though.)  After the show Pete Buck came out and talked to the crowd and was very nice.  I saw them again in London at Dingwalls a couple of weeks later.  I was chatting with Peter when Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzie walked by and Pete was totally star-struck.  It is funny how things turned out, as REM became so huge  and Lynott died so young.  A very cool memory though.

Willard Suitcase #5

Posted in History, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 16/10/2011

This suitcase belonged to Mary W.

Hers was the second wicker case I photographed last Thursday.

As I have mentioned before, I haven’t any idea what I will find when I unwrap the cases.  This one felt a bit heavier than others and when I opened it, it was mostly filled with fabric and lace that I am assuming Mary had made.

There was a lovely feel about the material as I unwrapped each piece.

A mark similar to the one above was on several of the towels.  At first I thought it was a date, but I am not so sure.

I believe these tags are from Willard and not the museum.  It looks like her case was entered into the system in the 1960s.

The detail on the lace pieces is beautiful.

Lots of interesting shapes and sizes.

Thursday was very productive.  Mary had only the one case with the lace and towels, but I also shot 3 cases that belonged to another person.  I’ll edit those photos and get them up soon.  Many thanks to Peggy Ross who helped me rewrap the cases, and as usual to Craig Williams for all his support.  If you are seeing these for the first time, please check out my project on Kickstarter.


Posted in Food by joncrispin on 14/10/2011

I had a great day shooting Willard suitcases in Albany yesterday.   I usually stop at the Donut Dip in West Springfield on my way out.  The shop has been there since the ’50s and hasn’t changed much since then.  I buy a dozen, eat one and let Craig distribute the rest to various people he works with at the museum.  The volunteers at the front desk were the beneficiaries this time.  Incredible donuts.

Catamount Classic

Posted in People, Sport by joncrispin on 11/10/2011

Last year my friend Thom Kendall asked if I would volunteer my time to shoot the Catamount Classic (  It is an event started by people at the University of Vermont to raise funds for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.  This year it was another beautiful day and it felt good to be doing something to help raise money for a good cause.  I am in the middle of editing the photographs and really like this one. /  For the last week, I have been spending lots of time and energy on my Kickstarter project, and it is nice to be looking at pictures that are so completely different.  I’ll be back in Albany on Thursday to do some more work on the suitcases.

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