When I left Short Hills, NJ this morning it was clear and breezy with very low humidity. The drive home was uneventful, but as I got into Massachusetts it had become mostly cloudy. I didn’t hit any rain until about 5 minutes from home. The light was beautiful and many of the flowers that Cristine has planted over the years are in full bloom.
I especially like these bleeding hearts.
I went into town this evening to meet Cris for a meal, and parked next to this. I had a vague memory of posting a similar car a few years ago and was kind of amazed to see another. This model looked even cheesier than the previous one.
And it also had the seemingly useless snaps built into the lovely chrome trim piece. It’s the little things I guess, but it kind of made my day.
I wasn’t sure I would go to the Willard tour this past weekend until I was recently contacted by Ken Paddock. When Ken told me the story of his aunt Helen who died at a very young age as a patient at Willard, I really wanted to meet him. His family had kept an amazing collection of documents and artifacts related to her death in 1928 at the age of 17. She had contracted a disease (possibly scarlet fever) at a young age which caused blindness and other problems, and she was sent by the family to The Syracuse State School for Mental Defectives. She was transferred to Willard when the State School could no longer control her. The collection contains letters written to the family about her situation, including a letter from the head of the State School advising the family why she would be moved. Ken’s mother rarely talked about her older sister, and it wasn’t until just before her death in 2001 that details about Helen’s institutionalization started to come out. It is amazing to me that these artifacts were saved by the family, especially since it seemed that no one spoke much about her for such a long time. I met Ken, his wife Kathy, and their cousin Carol at the Taughannock Falls overlook on Saturday morning and was shown a binder full of artifacts. They encouraged me to talk about her life, and are graciously allowing me to photograph the collection, which I hope to do later this summer. It is great to be able to use her full name as this collection is in private hands and does not come under the state’s control. So, here’s a kind thought for Helen W. Howden, and thanks to Ken’s family for sharing her story.
We got up to Willard at around 12.45 and were organized into groups for the tour. The first stop was Brookside, which is where the medical director and his family lived. It is a lovely early 20th Century house and situated right on the shore of Seneca Lake. As usual I was drawn to one of the three kitchens and took a few shots before I headed downstairs.
This device was used when the family wanted to request something from the staff. When Craig Williams and I were looking at it, the buzzer sounded when another member of the tour pushed a button in one of the upstairs rooms.
Next stop was the game room in the basement. I am not sure which director’s family would have used this foosball table, but it was most likely Dr. Anthony Mustille’s children.
Since I had already been in several of the buildings on the tour, Peggy Ellsworth suggested I come over to the morgue when it was between groups. She is one of the main boosters of Willard’s past, and spends a great deal of her energy keeping the spirit of the place alive. She told me an amazing story of her first day on the job after she had graduated from the nursing school. It involved her first autopsy when she was standing right where she is in this photograph.
It constantly astounds me that evidence of how these rooms were used is still in place decades after Willard’s closing.
The morgue building is a tiny little brick edifice that I had never been able to get into on my earlier visits.
So many interesting aspects to this room.
This is the faucet at the head of the autopsy table.
And who knows why this retractor was left behind?
It is really quite a space, and reminds me a bit of the autopsy room at Ellis Island that I photographed a few years ago. After I left the morgue I headed over to Elliot Hall which was built in 1931.
It reminds me of several of the other state hospitals I have visited; long corridors with day rooms at the end of hallways.
And the stairwells are very similar to ones I have photographed at other institutions.
Before leaving to head home, I stopped by the cemetery where the Willard Cemetery Memorial Project folks arranged this nice remembrance of Lawrence Marek (unfortunately not his real surname) who while a patient at Willard dug over 900 graves for those who died while living at the institution.
The next tour of Willard should take place again next May. It is a great opportunity to meet former staff and see first hand what an amazing place it was, and in many respects, still is.
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.
I have always liked goats, and my friend Tania Werbizky really likes goats. I was driving through Hadley this afternoon and I passed these guys. I stopped, took a few photos and then just as I was about to leave, a trailer pulled up with MORE GOATS! That is why most of these ones are looking to the right. The new arrivals were let into the field and all these guys ran over to greet them. Some head-butting was noted.
About 10 years ago I planted a bunch of daffodil and tulip bulbs. At the time I remember reading that the daffs would keep coming up annually, but that the tulips had a life of around five years. This is the last of them to flower; a lone red tulip in the middle of daffs and baby’s breath. I’ll be surprised if it comes back next year, but this one showed some resilience.
I just spent the past four days shooting a project at the Pingry School in New Jersey. The days were very full, the work was great and since it was with my friends at the Herson Group, we enjoyed ourselves tremendously. / I have been photographing Peter Carroll jumping almost as long as I have known him (which is a very long time). And while I was living in Ithaca, I spent a lot of time photographing portable toilets, and had a very one sided postcard correspondence with The Portable Sanitation Association. These toilets were on the high end of comfort and I believe they were even air conditioned.
The spring is much further (farther?) along in New Jersey than it is in Massachusetts, and these dogwood blossoms were at their peak. Ours don’t even have leaves yet.
As I was driving through Springfield, the sky got really interesting and I pulled into a scenic area on the 91 to check out this beautiful rainbow. Not a great shot, but a lot of cars had stopped to watch it and there was a nice little collection of people taking in the scene. / Enjoy the weekend everyone.
Yesterday I got a call from my friend Scott Chasan-Taber offering me a ticket to today’s Sox game. We drove in this morning and took the Green Line from Woodland to Fenway. It was a beautiful day for baseball; cool, breezy, and at times even a bit warm in the sun. The Sox lost to Oakland 3-2 in 10 innings, but it didn’t really matter so much to me. It was just lovely to be in the park watching baseball. Thanks Scott! / Wishing you all a great week. Cheers
I have always liked driving people to airports, train stations, and bus stations. I make it clear to friends that if my schedule allows, I am in. One of Cristine’s students is (was) Sebastian Lindstrom. He is leaving Amherst for good and we will miss him. It is always bittersweet to get to know the students, as we know they will eventually be gone. He is already doing interesting work with his organization What Took You So Long. Here he is standing in front of the MegaBus. Gone but not forgotten. Safe travels Sebastian.