Jon Crispin's Notebook

Ithaca Suitcase Talk

Posted in Willard Asylum, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 30/09/2013

I will be talking about the Willard Suitcases project at the Tompkins County Public Library  in Ithaca, NY on Thursday, 24th October.  Craig Williams will also be there and it should be a fun evening.  The event will take place in the Borg Warner room at 6.00 PM and is, of course, open to the public.  It would be a good chance to meet those of you who live in central New York and can attend.

I like this photograph from John C’s case as it shows how carefully the staff at the New York State museum worked to preserve these delicate objects.  I have just uploaded his suitcase to the site, so you can now see what else John had with him at Willard. is now live!

Posted in Willard Asylum, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 26/09/2013

Well, this took a while.  I was feeling a bit low about the fact that it took me so long to have the suitcases site up and running.  Steve Fox, who designed it and put it together was very sympathetic when I expressed this to him.  He mentioned a great Chinese proverb that I had never heard.  “The best time to plant a tree is 100 years ago.  The second best time is right now”.  So I guess it isn’t too late.  He did such a beautiful job and I am so pleased with the results.  So, just a few notes.  It is going to take quite a while for me to upload all the cases, but once I have done so, each one will be available to see.  As of this moment, there are only eight, but bear with me as I work on the images and upload them to the server.   Photos will eventually be for sale for anyone interested.  I will be offering two sizes and will print them myself.  So check it out by clicking here.

Here is a case I shot on Tuesday.

It belonged to Delmar H.

It is one of my favorite suitcases.

It is very heavy and quite battered.

I found myself wishing that more of this label was intact.  It is from a hotel in Bologna, Italy.

There were a few really nice features.  The handle was very sturdy and the hasps were very well made.

None of Delmar’s possessions were inside; just a few scraps of paper and a piece of twine, along with a small portion of the original label from when she arrived at Willard.

I had been unable to shoot the suitcases for a bit, and it felt so great to be back.

And one more piece of news that totally blows me away.  I got an email from Hunter Oatman-Stanford who wrote one of the best (and earliest) articles on the project for Collector’s Weekly.  Get this…..his story has garnered over 1 million unique page views!  Unreal.  I’ll thank him again for blowing this whole thing wide open, as most of the interest the project has received is due to him.

End of a Week

Posted in Abandoned Buildings, Architecture, Art, Flowers, Friends, Landscape, Nature, Plants, Rivers, Water by joncrispin on 22/09/2013

Last Saturday I posted pictures from the Amherst Farmers’ Market.  On Thursday I got an email from Casey at Old Friends Farm asking if he could use some of the photos in the farm’s weekly newsletter.  I was more than happy to oblige and went into heavy negotiation mode.  Pictures for flowers;  quite a good deal for us both.

Earlier in the week I went to watch Cris teach an undergrad class in one of the UMASS School of Ed. buildings.  The class meets in a now-closed elementary school  auditorium.   Down a hallway and behind a set of doors with a “NO ENTRY” sign was this school gymnasium.  I can remember being a kid at the East End School in Meadville and being in a similar gym (they all look pretty much alike).  I especially like the climbing ropes and the cargo net.

Today we drove to Williamstown to meet up with Peggy Ross, her husband Peter, and their friend Pierette who is visiting from France.   We met at the Williams College Museum of Art and then walked into town for a beer.  It is a lovely small New England town with 2 great museums (the other being the Clark, which is a gem).

Driving back along Route 2, I was compelled to stop and grab a few shots of the Deerfield River.

I hope to have the site up and running tomorrow.  I am so excited and will post an update as soon as it is online.


Posted in Fungi by joncrispin on 15/09/2013

We haven’t been walking up in the woods lately since in the summer the bugs are quite bad.  This morning, Cris, our friend Kate, and I went for a stroll and were all interested in the number and variety of fungi that we saw.  It has been a fairly wet summer, so I guess it is to be expected.

 I have never seen these purple guys before.

 They looked a bit slimy.

 And this orange fellow appeared to be trailing some interesting goop.

 I think this yellow one is some form of what my French friend Pol Corvez used to call “pets de nonne”.

 After a while, I realized that I was shooting all of these mushrooms from above, so here is a side shot of this ↑one.

I have just enabled the url joncrispinposts.  It should be working now, and I am hoping that there will be no problems.  If you type in the old one ( it automatically redirects.  If any of you have problems accessing the site, shoot me a note.  And, as always, thanks for following.

Farmers’ Market

Posted in Food, Nature, Plants, Seasons by joncrispin on 14/09/2013

This is white ginger.  It usually shows up at this time of the year at the Amherst farmers’ market and is quite lovely.  We usually buy some to put in the freezer.

I was taken by the produce at Old Friends Farm stand this morning.  Everything looked great in the soft morning light.

Autumn farmers’ markets are the best.

I’ve no idea what these little white pods are, but they look nice next to the tomatoes.

And a question for all you grammarians out there.  When I was writing the title of this post I assumed that the apostrophe in farmers would go after the “r”, but when I did an internet search, many sites had it after the “s”.  Any clarification on which is correct?

Lemon, Cuke, Pepper

Posted in Food, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 13/09/2013

There has been a lot going on lately and I have been saddled with a bit of “karma congestion”, as my friend Alex would put it.  I haven’t posted for a bit, and haven’t been inspired to do so.  I know I am feeling a bit better when I start wanting to photograph goofy arrangements of yesterdays vegetables.  I can’t remember what I did with the other half of the lemon, but the rest of this cuke was in a peanut butter sandwich and most of the red pepper was in an amazing corn chowder.  I’ll eat the remainder of the cuke in a few hours, and the lemon and pepper will go in the freezer bag for stock.

I am about to make a modification to this site, but it shouldn’t have any bearing on regular followers.  I will be changing the url from to  As far as I can understand it, the old url should still work, but if any of you have problems, shoot me an email.  Also, for the followers of my Willard Suitcase project, the site should be up and running by the end of next week at the latest.  Steve Fox from Born Digital Web Design in the UK has done an amazing job putting it all together, and I am so excited to finally have it done.  I will post here when it is online.

Wishing you all a great weekend.  Thanks for following.

Andre Dubus III for Poets & Writers

Posted in Art, Writers by joncrispin on 03/09/2013

I have been getting a lot of great assignments from Poets & Writers lately.  This past Friday I drove out to Eastern Massachusetts to meet and photograph Andre Dubus III.  I had read quite a few reviews of his memoir “Townie” and was aware of his earlier novel  “House of Sand and Fog”.  I had a wonderful time with him and got some really nice photographs.  While I can’t put up any of the shots of him here until the story runs in the magazine, I can show these.  / I always ask writers about how they physically create their work.  I have lots of  photographs of fingers tapping away at keyboards (both typewriter and computer),and shots of hands holding pens over paper.  Andre is the first writer I have photographed who writes with pencil, and he was most happy to talk about his favorite.  It is a Palomino Blackwing 602.  I usually do an internet search for things about which I know little, and I found an interesting wikipedia entry about this particular pencil.  Here is the link.

As you can see, he writes in lined composition notebooks.  It is so interesting how entire books come out of this process.  /  In all ways was he was a most generous subject.  He inscribed a copy of “Townie” for me and gave me a collection of his father’s short stories.  I have just about finished the memoir and it is both harrowing and completely engaging.  I’ll start on his dad’s stories next. /  Huge thanks to P&W for the assignment and to Andre for an amazing experience.  The story is scheduled to run in the November/December issue, and I will put up a link and some of my photographs when it is out.

%d bloggers like this: