Jon Crispin's Notebook

Olive in the Woods


We had a very dry Summer and Autumn this past year and there has been hardly any water  in the woods above the house.  Olive has really missed splashing around.  After the heavy snow of two weeks ago, the warm temperatures, and the recent rains, she is now back in luck.


She is amazing when it comes to chasing sticks.


  It’s colder today so she is spending time next to the wood stove.

Wishing you all a great week.

Ovid / Willard Cemetery / NAMI Waco

I had a great meeting at the Edith B. Ford Library in Ovid, NY to talk about the possibility of working on an oral history project with former Willard employees.  Peter Carroll and I drove up from Ithaca this morning and met with Shannon O’Connor and Monica Kelly who both are doing amazing things at the library.  Monica is building an archive of Willard materials, and if anyone who reads this has any records or photographs related to the asylum, you should really contact her.


Afterwards Pete and I drove to the Holy Cross Cemetery on Gilbert Road.


Recently, a local group raised funds and erected a monument to Willard folks who died at the institution and are buried at Holy Cross.  I am not exactly sure what the problem is, but some people have objected to it, and so the monument has been covered up since just after it was unveiled.  The issue of naming former patients and staff continues to come up, and is still a problem on many levels.  I’ll be eager to find out what really happened here.


After leaving Holy Cross, we drove over to the Willard Cemetery which is down the road and across the street from the asylum.  This is such an indescribably moving place for me. It was a really beautiful late Winter day and the idea that 5,776 former patients are buried here in unmarked graves always touches me deeply.


The site is very well looked after, and the area around some of the few remaining numbered cast iron markers has recently been cleared of brush.


And it is always nice to see the monument to Lawrence Mocha, who as a patient, dug by hand over 1500 of the graves.

I found out today that I have been invited to Waco, Texas to be the keynote speaker at the annual NAMI Waco dinner and gala.  The event is the evening of Thursday, 18th May and if you live anywhere nearby, I would love to meet you.

Willard Suitcases / Issac and Alice


I continue to make good progress uploading to the suitcases site.  Issac’s case had just a few items, but the buttons are nice, as well as the safety pins.  I especially like the folding coat hangar.


Peggy and I were thrilled to open Alice’s case and see the beautiful lining.

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Posted in biology, Flowers, Jon Crispin, Nature, Plants, Uncategorized by joncrispin on 10/02/2017


Just before Christmas I bought the last four paperwhite bulbs at Hadley Garden Center.  As they were the last ones, they looked a bit ratty.  Since we were gone most of January, Cris didn’t put them into the jar of rocks until just after we got home.  The first flowers came out today.  A full foot of snow outside but lovely to have these beauties in the house.

I spoke to my friend John Wilson in Stratford-upon-Avon late last week and he said the daffodils are already coming up over there.  I guess we’ll have to wait at least 6 more weeks before we see any here.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Willard Suitcases / More Labels / Peg

Willard Suitcases

I am just about finished up editing the December 2013 shoots.

Willard Suitcases

The cases were mostly empty, but this newspaper is interesting.  It describes a particularly tragic boating accident in Alexandria Bay, NY that occurred in August of 1929.  I did a bit or research.  Here’s a link to an online newspaper archive that goes into some detail.  It wasn’t completely unusual for a suitcase to contain a complete section of a newspaper and little else.  I wonder if H. L. had any connection to the Lipe family.  (Lipe is not his surname.)

Willard Suitcases

Walter arrived in February of 1945.  Nelson Rockford Socks are still available.

Willard Suitcases

Mary Agnes’ case just had this little metal clasp, a shoelace, a hairpin, and a label.

Willard Suitcases

And a pair of “leather-like” boots.

Willard Suitcases

Baker’s case was the only one where we found a bit of “racy” material.  Look closely to see the title of the painting.  Cheeky!

Willard Suitcases

The storage facility wasn’t always the warmest place to work (except in the summer).  Peggy Ross was always such a sport though, and only rarely complained.  We ate a lot of  hot/sour soup from the local Chinese restaurant for lunch, which helped us get through the day.

Check out the Willard Suitcases site to see the latest.  Thanks for following.

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