Jon Crispin's Notebook

Willard Suitcases / Joseph A / Peggy Ross

Posted in Willard Asylum, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 24/11/2014

I was back in Rotterdam at the storage facility shooting suitcases this past Friday.  The last time I was there, Peggy and I were only able to get part way through Joseph A’s possessions, and I was really eager to finish up.  I posted about that day here.  Most of what was in his two large trunks was clothing, and as I have said before, setting up this sort of shot is difficult for me.

Thank goodness for Peg.  I have mentioned before just how important she is to the project.  I probably would have never done the second Kickstarter without her, or for that matter, even thought about shooting all 400 of the suitcases.  Friday was a good case in point.  Every single article of clothing in Joseph’s collection had been assigned a catalogue number by the museum.  This meant taking the objects out of their archival boxes, keeping track of the small pieces of paper on which those numbers were written, hiding the numbers in the folds of the clothes so they weren’t visible in the photographs, setting up the shot, taking the photographs, rematching all the numbers with the articles, and finally putting them back into their designated storage boxes.  We worked for about four hours on this one trunk; had I been alone it would have taken days.

And in addition to all of this detail work, she helps to organize the shots, and sees things that I would otherwise miss.  When we were putting Joseph’s clothes away, she pointed out that his initials had been embroidered onto the collar of his pajamas, and it makes for a lovely picture.

So a huge thank you to Peg for her organizational skills, hard work, and dedication to the project.  I couldn’t do this without her.

Sunday Evening

Posted in Cemeteries, Food, Friends, Graveyards, History, Jon Crispin, Nature, Plants, woods by joncrispin on 16/11/2014


I made this corn chowder recipe tonight.  Perfect for a cold Sunday.  I always buy extra ears of sweet corn during the summer and freeze what we don’t eat for days like this.  Very nice; give it a try sometime.

One of the great things about the suitcases project is hearing from people who find other work that is related to institutionalization. Charlie Seton sent me this link today.  What an interesting project.  Thanks Charlie.  And my great buddy Hank who has been following the suitcases from the beginning sent this link about Letchworth Village in Rockland County.  It is interesting to me that surnames are used on the commemorative plaque.

I know some of you know a lot about plants.  I started seeing these guys in the early Autumn.  I don’t think they are plants that lost their leaves; I am quite sure that this is the whole deal.

And I have discovered some new trails above the house.  Before the snow last week I saw a few of these evergreen-like plants that I have never seen before.  If any of you can help identify them, I would love to know.

Sorry the top is out of focus.  I only had my phone with me and as this little guy was only a few inches long, there wasn’t much depth of field.

Wishing you all a great week, my dear online friends.

First Snow with Olive

Posted in Dogs, Weather by joncrispin on 14/11/2014

We had a lovely light snow today.  Olive was a bit confused by it, but ultimately had fun running around.

Willard Suitcases / Thelma R

Posted in Jon Crispin, Willard Asylum, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 11/11/2014

I have been working hard to continue uploading suitcases to the willardsuitcases site.  I have just put up Thelma R’s case and it is one of my favorites.  For those of you who are new to the project, you can see what is up so far here.


Posted in Abandoned Buildings, Architecture, Buildings, Community, Government, History, Travel by joncrispin on 10/11/2014

I moved to Berlin in January of 1986.  I really needed to get away from Ithaca, and I had some issues which needed attention.  I spent mornings at the Goethe Institute studying German and the rest of the day photographing.  I was drawn to the city because of the division; one could see the extremes of Capitalism on the West side, then go through a checkpoint on the same day and see what the Commies were up to.  It was like stepping back forty years.

I like the phrase “wer mauert hat’s nötig” which I always took to mean “whoever builds walls needs them”.  Which is relevant here as the East Germans built the thing and then called it an “anti-facist barrier”.

In looking over my contact sheets this morning I realized that there are very few people in any of my wall photographs.  It always amazed me that even on the West side, people stayed away from it (except the graffiti folks who must have worked at odd hours, as I never saw anyone writing on the thing).

I used to like to take the bus to Steinstücken and wander around.  It was an odd little Western enclave almost totally surrounded by the East.  You can read about it here.  There was a rail line running straight through it and you could stick your head around a corner and be face to face with a guard tower.  It always seemed a likely place for a crossing, but I never heard of one. / I met a lot of Berliners and was always interested to hear stories of unique situations with the wall.  I was once told that at some locations there were gates where Westerners could use a key to access their gardens in the East.  Probably not true, but interesting to think about.

Here is Checkpoint Charlie at night.

The wall has been down for 25 years now.  I seriously doubt it was Reagan’s “Mr Gorbachev, bring down this wall” plea that had anything to do with it opening up.  More like the East Germans made some really stupid mistakes, which is not surprising as they were running a completely effed up and vile organization.

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