Jon Crispin's Notebook

Willard Suitcase #14

Posted in Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 31/03/2012

This case was very interesting to me on a lot of levels.  It belonged to Peter L.

It was almost completely flattened and I decided to shoot it from above until Peg figured out how to have it stand up on its own.

This type of bag has always been one of my favorites.  I have one very similar to it that was given to me a long time ago by a friend.

It looks like there is a burn from a cigarette on the wooden shaving soap box.

You see this color green often in the UK.

I found my self hoping that Peterson’s Ointment was indeed soothing to Peter L.

The small labels that the Willard staff affixed to the cases tells quite a bit about the patients.

I have again obscured the last part of Peter’s name here.  What is interesting about this tag is the date of his admission.

You can see by the date on this Syracuse Herald-Journal that he bought the paper just days before he arrived at Willard.

My mom’s name was Vera and my son’s name is Peter and when I see connections in these items I can’t help but to personalize this whole process.  It is one of the reasons that I feel able to convey some sense of intimacy through the photographs.

It also helps to remember that while the individuals who owned the cases were experiencing monumental changes in their lives, the larger world around them was also in turmoil.

I will be in Albany Monday, Tuesday, and probably Friday.  Early in the week I’ll be meeting with  Dr. Karen Miller and a wonderful person from the West Coast museum that (fingers crossed) will be using some of this work in a major exhibit a year from now.  As soon as details are finalized, I let everyone know what’s going on.  And on Friday I’ll hope to shoot a bunch more cases.

9 Responses

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  1. slushfundbaby (@slushfundbaby) said, on 31/03/2012 at 7:21 pm

    I’m so pleased that you continue to place these patients in the context of more than their immediate medical circumstances. They were, of course, people with families and histories and connections to world events, but sometimes that gets obscured by thinking of them in the isolation of illness.

  2. tish said, on 31/03/2012 at 8:40 pm

    Photos are beautiful, as always, but including the scrap of paper with Vera’s name and address kind of ruins the point of “obscuring Peter’s last name” in the name-tag above…!

  3. leamuse said, on 01/04/2012 at 1:25 am

    Glad you are back with more suitcases. Since I am too far away to see them, I must settle for online viewings. Fortunately you do this work sympathetically and give testimony for those who were silenced.


  4. Alison said, on 02/04/2012 at 2:56 pm

    Oh, this is a really good one! The inclusion of a current (relative to the date of admission) newspaper, especially given the events at that time, makes Peter’s “story” very poignant.

    I’m always curious about the leftover bath products and perfumes in these cases. Do you ever open the containers to find out if they’ve retained their scents or to see if they had ever been used, etc.?

    • joncrispin said, on 03/04/2012 at 10:21 am

      Alison, thanks for following the project. Smells are a big part of the shooting experience. They range from the musty odor of items that have been stored for decades, to the smell of the bath products that linger on in their containers. Unfortunately, it is one part of the experience that can not be shared through the photographs. But just you thinking about it makes me happy. Jon

  5. kseelass said, on 15/04/2012 at 11:44 am

    My Grand-Mother & my Mother are both Vera. My mom hates having that name. As the 1st born grandchild I would not have minded being named Vera instead of Kathleen. My dad picked the names, my sister is Maureen; He married a 2nd time and named his daughters Noreen & Coleen. My sis & I being 1st got the better end of the deal.

  6. maryhelensmarigolds said, on 02/06/2012 at 4:43 pm

    Jon-post more cases soon! I find your project breathtaking. Keep up the amazing work of keeping these people alive in the minds of your fans.

    • joncrispin said, on 04/06/2012 at 9:11 am

      Mary Helen, Thanks! I will put another case up in a few days. Jon

  7. […] Willard Suitcase #10, Willard Suitcase #11, Willard Suitcase #12, Willard Suitcase #13, Willard Suitcase #14, Willard Suitcase #15, Willard Suitcase #16, Willard Suitcase #17, Willard Suitcase #18, […]

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