Jon Crispin's Notebook

Victory Players / Whippy Dip / Fenway

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I had fun last week photographing a new musical ensemble that is sponsored by the Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts.  The Victory Players are (from left to right) Han Chen, Giovanni Perez, Elly Toyoda, Robert Rocheteau, Eric Schultz, YuMi Bae, and Conductor Tian Ng.

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The top photograph was made at the Victory Theatre in Holyoke, which is about to be restored to its former glory, but currently has an abandoned feel to it.  The photo with the piano was shot on the Mount Holyoke College campus and in spite of looking totally staged, was really quite spontaneous.  Robert Rocheteau was taking selfies and it just sort of fell together for me.

Victory Ensemble.  Robert Rocheteau

I also did individual shots of each of the musicians.  There is something about this photograph of Robert Rocheteau that really grabs me.  He has fabulous hair.

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On Friday night I went to a performance of the ensemble in Holyoke and stopped on the way home at Cindy’s in Granby for an ice cream.  I made it just before closing.  My friend Alex always referred to every summer roadside stand as a “Whippy Dip”, and this one is a classic.

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To end the week, my friend Lisa and I went to a Red Sox / White Sox game on Saturday.  She had gotten amazing seats for us and the weather was perfect for a 4:05 start.  I took this from our seats just after a J.D. Martinez home run, and I think he was still rounding the bases as I fired the shutter.  The (Red) Sox won 4-2.

Willard Suitcases / Madeline C / UTMB

Willard Suitcases Project
Madeline C

I apologize for the long gap in posting about the suitcases.  It has been an incredibly busy time.  I have been devoting most of my mental energy getting prepared for a series of talks at the University of Texas Medical Branch that are scheduled for next week.  This is a huge honor for me, as I will be a visiting Osler scholar.  When I was in Galveston in 2016 presenting to NAMI Gulfcoast I was approached by Dr. Dwight Wolf about returning to speak at UT to the Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences department.  Cristine and I fly out on Sunday (weather dependent), and there are events scheduled for the whole week.

Here is a rundown.

Monday the 15th – I’ll be speaking about the suitcases and my other work at the Galveston Arts Center from 6-8 pm.

Tuesday the 16th – Osler Club Grand Rounds, Temple B’nai Israel, 3008 Avenue O, Galveston.  I believe this is open to the public but reservations are required.

Earlier that day I will present the project to residents at UTMB.  This is not open to the public.

Wednesday the 17th – IMH Colloquium at UTMB during the lunch hour.  Jennie Sealy Hospital.  This might be open to the public, I’m not sure.

That evening I’ll be speaking at the Galveston Historical Foundation about the suitcases and my other documentary institutional work.  6-7 pm at Menard Hall, 3302 Avenue O, Galveston.

Thursday the 18th – There is an open mic event with Dr. Steve Fisher with a display of photographs of both of our work.  Dr. Fisher has been photographing the collection of medical specimens at UTMB.  Should be interesting.  3rd Floor Old Red.  I’ve been told it is an amazing building.

That’s it for now.  Thanks for following.

Wilson, NC

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We stopped for gas at the northernmost Wilson, NC exit.  I wonder what this interesting abandoned building once was.

Anna Lucille Earley, Willard Nurse

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

I got a call a few weeks ago from Craig Williams telling me that a trunk had been discovered in the attic of the Covert Funeral Home in Ovid, NY that belonged to a woman who was a nurse at Willard in the early part of the 20th Century.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

At that time Craig wasn’t too sure of many of the details but thought I might be interested if anything came of it.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

Craig has been working at the Romulus Historical Society with Peggy Ellsworth who worked at Willard and has been a great friend to the suitcases project.  Peg has been the go-to person for all things Willard since the institution closed in 1995.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

Last Friday Paul McPherson who is the current director of the funeral home brought the trunk to the historical society for Craig and Peg to have a look.  They were really enthused and Craig called to see if I could take a few photos as he unpacked the items and started to conserve and catalogue the collection.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

The contents of the trunk are in great shape, and it is amazing to see how well preserved the items are.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

I love seeing these old commercial products in their early packaging.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

There were several mounted photographs in the trunk, as well as this envelope which contain a large number of photographic negatives.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

Craig scanned a few and the quality is amazing.

photo baseball rs

The Willard baseball team was almost certainly made up of staff, and not patients.  But one has to wonder if any of the patients ever made it onto the diamond.

photo nurses rs

I think this scan was from a print.  In addition to having worked at Willard as a nurse, she was a graduate of the institution’s school of nursing.  Craig and Peg are looking at the images to try to figure out which one in the photos is Anna.  None are identified on the back, so it might be quite a job.

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The above photo is especially exciting, as the building in the background is the sheltered workshop where the suitcases were stored in the attic and were rediscovered in 1995.  The collection of cases dates from 1910 to 1965 and Anna was at Willard starting in the late teens, so it is very likely that she worked with some of the owners.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

As we found in many of the suitcases there is a broad range of items in Anna’s trunk; she had saved things that can tell a fairly complete story of her life, and more broadly, what life at Willard was like in the 1920s.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

This box contains a lot of personal correspondence, including some very interesting postcards.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

It took a minute to figure out this one.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

It became clear once we saw the “soldier’s mail” postmark.  Let’s hope H. C. Norris made it through the war safely.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

As a nurse at Willard, she would have lived on the grounds and received her mail there.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

This inscription is especially touching and a bit mysterious.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

Craig and I didn’t have much time to go through the notebooks, but this is a huge trove of original source material that will be interesting to study once everything is catalogued.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

Perhaps the most intriguing is this small diary from 1918 which contains day to day accounts of Anna’s life at Willard.  To the left is a playbill for “Farmer’s Daughter” which played at Hadley Hall on the Willard grounds.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

Anna’s Student’s Note Book is pretty interesting.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

Her hand writing is very readable.   I didn’t see any crossed out sections as I flipped through the pages.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

This small brooch is pretty.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

The trunk itself is is great shape.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

Anna is buried in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Ovid.  Craig took this photo of her gravestone.

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The Romulus Historical Society will be putting an exhibit together of the trunk and contents sometime soon.  The museum is located in the town of Willard and is only open until the end of September.  It is not clear if anything will happen before then, but Peggy is eager for the collection to see the light of day.  I’ll update here when I know details.  There is obviously a ton of work to be done researching Anna’s life, but this is really an amazing find.

Special thanks go to Paul McPherson for contacting the historical society with this incredible look into the life of Anna.  A find like this really brings history alive.  It will be interesting to see what develops once everything is conserved and catalogued.  And as always thanks to Peggy Ellsworth for her tireless work in remembering the patients and staff at Willard, and to Craig Williams for keeping me in the loop.

 

 

Willard Suitcases / Chapin House / NAMI Waco

Willard Hallway

I took this photo in the early 1980s at the very beginning of my connection with Willard.  It is still one of my favorites from the “Silent Voices” project.

Here are a few shots from my recent uploads to the suitcases site.

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I’m not exactly sure what the white fabric object is in Kenneth Q’s case, but it is interesting.  The orange toothbursh is kind of nice.

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Elizabeth C’s dress is so beautiful.

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The cotton fabric is soft and wonderful.

Willard Suitcases

There are 3 different places on the above photograph where I had to obscure Amelia’s surname, and it still makes me sad every time I have to do so.  The Office of Mental Health pr guy told me a few years ago that it was necessary due to the stigma of mental illness.  It is precisely that attitude that prolongs that stigma; the Willard patients deserve to be recognized as being more than just patients at a New York State asylum.

On Wednesday, I fly to Texas to present the suitcases project at a dinner sponsored by NAMI Waco.  Here is a link to the event.  If you are in the area, it would be great to see you and make a connection.

Thanks for following.

Willard Suitcases / Stuart B / Oscar Wilde

Willard Suitcases 2013 Jon Crispin

I am getting a lot of editing done lately, and am feeling great about the images.

Willard Suitcases ©2013 Jon Crispin

Stuart’s (maybe Stuert, it appears both ways) case was full of interesting toiletries.  Several of the residents had Dr. Lyon’s Tooth Powder.

Willard Suitcases ©2013 Jon Crispin

I have always wanted to avoid “fetishizing” the objects that came to Willard with the patients, but the design of the items in Stuert’s case really grabbed me.

Willard Suitcases ©2013 Jon Crispin

The attention to detail in commercial design during the time of these products is impressive.

Willard Suitcases ©2013 Jon Crispin

This Ever-Ready shaving brush had quite a bit of use.

Willard Suitcases ©2013 Jon Crispin

I love the typeface (or is it font?) on the Mennen talcum powder.  One wonders about the “neutral” tint, and on just how many faces it wouldn’t show.

Willard Suitcases ©2013 Jon Crispin

The above image is one of my favorites from the project.

Willard Suitcases ©2013 Jon Crispin

The Mennen Company is still in business, and are mostly known for their deodorants.

Willard Suitcases ©2013 Jon Crispin

Lander Perfumer; New York, Memphis, Montreal, and……Binghamton!

Willard Suitcases ©2013 Jon Crispin

I am glad I (or Peg) thought to photograph the back of the “Locktite Humidizer”.

Willard Suitcases ©2013 Jon Crispin

It keeps your tobacco fresh, and they are definitely out of business.

Willard Suitcases ©2013 Jon Crispin

Thanks for following.  I have been uploading a ton of new cases on the Willard Suitcases site.  Go check it out, and don’t forget to click on the “view all” link at the bottom of each page.  25 is the default number and in many instances, there are more than that number in the gallery.

I was listening to “With Great Pleasure” on Radio 4 today while I was editing these photographs and heard this Oscar Wilde quote from “De Profundus”.  “Where there is sorrow, there is holy ground”.  I think he was right on the money.

Kilmainham Gaol / Guinness / Home

Kilmainham Gaol,Guinness Brewery,Trinity College, Dublin

Our time in Dublin was limited, and it was difficult to decide what to do for the last day and a half we were there.  We were really interested in seeing the historic Kilmainham Gaol, as it was highly recommended.  The only way to get in is with a guide, but Brian was really knowledgeable and we learned a ton about the history of Ireland.

Kilmainham Gaol,Guinness Brewery,Trinity College, Dublin

My interest in institutional architecture and abandoned buildings goes way back, and it was a treat to be able to walk through this important historic site and have time to photograph.

Kilmainham Gaol,Guinness Brewery,Trinity College, Dublin

For me walking through hallways like this is the best way for me to connect with the history of a place.

Kilmainham Gaol,Guinness Brewery,Trinity College, Dublin

The building was abandoned for many years and left to deteriorate, but a group largely made up of volunteers has worked for years to make it accessible to the public.

Kilmainham Gaol,Guinness Brewery,Trinity College, Dublin

The tour was fairly crowded, but it was pretty easy to hang back and photograph whenever I saw something interesting.

Kilmainham Gaol,Guinness Brewery,Trinity College, Dublin

The main hall in the first photograph was built based on an idea of imprisonment that came from the Pentonville prison in England, whereby prisoners were isolated in individual cells rather than thrown together in large rooms.  This was meant to foster a more peaceful environment to aid in rehabilitation , but conditions were still quite brutal.

Kilmainham Gaol,Guinness Brewery,Trinity College, Dublin

The cross at this end of the yard marks the spot where James Connolly was executed by firing squad.  If you get a chance to read about him in the link, the story of his life and death is very moving.  I think the best thing about the tour of the gaol is how much Irish history we learned.

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After the prison, a trip to the Guinness Brewery seemed like a good idea.

Kilmainham Gaol,Guinness Brewery,Trinity College, Dublin

This is an enormous industrial complex in Dublin.  Another tour, but this one was self guided but also quite informative.

Kilmainham Gaol,Guinness Brewery,Trinity College, Dublin

It was cool to see this little monument to William Sealy Gosset since I had just seen an article in the Times of London about his work on probability and how Nate Silver uses the same basic model to predict US elections.  The article is behind a paywall, but you might be able to sign up for a free trial.  It is worth a read.

Kilmainham Gaol,Guinness Brewery,Trinity College, Dublin

This is the handle of a big safe that held the yeast strain that is still used in making Guinness. / The tour ended with a complimentary pint of the black stuff, which as always, goes down a treat.

We had a few hours on the day we flew home so were able to see the Book of Kells at Trinity College. We were told not to miss it and it was amazing.  No photos are allowed in the exhibit, but the tour does include a visit to the Long Room Library.

Kilmainham Gaol,Guinness Brewery,Trinity College, Dublin

More crowds, but the room is stunning. Love the marble busts.

Kilmainham Gaol,Guinness Brewery,Trinity College, Dublin

Here is old Demosthenes checking things out.

Kilmainham Gaol,Guinness Brewery,Trinity College, Dublin

There is an active conservator’s lab that the public can view, and I was reminded of my work on the suitcases as the cotton string used to wrap the books is the same that the New York State Museum used on the cases.

Kilmainham Gaol,Guinness Brewery,Trinity College, Dublin

Here is a piece of it tied to the grate that separates the conservators from the public.

Kilmainham Gaol,Guinness Brewery,Trinity College, Dublin

We had a bit of time before catching the bus to the airport to walk through St Stephen’s Green and enjoy the beautiful autumn day.

Kilmainham Gaol,Guinness Brewery,Trinity College, Dublin

Back home now to return to spending a lot of time editing the suitcases, and  to begin reaching out to publishers and museums. Thanks for following.

Dix Hospital Cemetery / Willard Suitcases

The visit to WUNC went really well.  Frank Stasio was a great interviewer and it was fun to chat with him and Rose Hoban, whose interest in the suitcases brought me to Raleigh for the Lives on the Hill event.  Here is a link to the broadcast.

Dix Hospital Cemetery, Raleigh, NC

I am staying with my friends Eric and Gail Vaughn and yesterday they drove me over the Dix grounds so I could get my bearings.  I saw this marker for the cemetery and we stopped to walk around.

Dix Hospital Cemetery, Raleigh, NC

I was actually shocked to see that the grave markers used names instead of numbers as New York State does.  And it made me both sad and angry that New York still refuses to allow former patients to be identified.

Dix Hospital Cemetery, Raleigh, NC

It would seem such an easy thing to change, but New York State OMH has no interest in doing so.

Dix Hospital Cemetery, Raleigh, NC

Please go to Lin Stuhler’s site and read her goodbye post.  She has said it much better than I ever could.

Tonight is the reception at The Mahler Fine Art gallery in Raleigh and tomorrow is the big public event.  If you are in the area please come by.  Thanks for following.

Cold War Bunker (Revisited)

Posted in Abandoned Buildings, Government, historic buildings, History, Uncategorized by joncrispin on 11/09/2016

Cold War Bunker

I was looking at some photographs that I took in 2010 of artifacts from the Attica Prison uprising, and came across these shots from a visit to a nearby New York State cold war bunker.  I first mentioned it in a post here.

Cold War Bunker

When Craig Williams and I went down into the bunker, we were accompanied by a couple of local policemen who thought there might be people inside, as the gate had been forced open.  They checked it out and the space was empty, so we went in.  As you can see by the beads of water on the wall, it was really humid and musty.

Cold War Bunker

There was electricity, so most of the fluorescent lights were still working.

Cold War Bunker

Abandoned spaces have always fascinated me, and I’ve been lucky to get access to some amazing buildings.

Cold War Bunker

The idea that the usefulness of a place can end abruptly, and that an organization like the State of New York can basically walk away from it is especially interesting.  I had the same feeling with my Silent Voices project (click on “asylums”).

Cold War Bunker

It is amazing what gets left behind.  There is some pretty old technology in this shot.  My dad had a Wollensack tape recorder like the one above that I used to play with as a kid.

Cold War Bunker

There are usually lots of keys in places like this.

Cold War Bunker

I am not sure when New York State shut down these sites, but I believe there were 6 or 7 of them scattered around the state.

Cold War Bunker

There must have been some permanent staff who worked here, but I would guess that it was a small crew that could have been expanded on during a crisis.

Cold War Bunker

It must have been an interesting place to work.

Cold War Bunker

I realized while writing this post that I knew very little about the history of these sites, so with a quick internet search, I found this great resource.

Cold War Bunker

The U. S. Government logo for civil defense is a beautiful design; as I was growing up in the 60s it was everywhere.

Cold War Bunker

As were these old rotary phones.

Cold War Bunker

Both the Federal and State governments were active in distributing information about what to do in the case of an emergency situation, which seemed to always be about some sort of attack from the USSR.

Cold War Bunker

This is a page from an old Ridgid Tool calendar.  There were a bunch of these scattered around the floor.

Cold War Bunker

Here’s one last shot of the main room.  Thanks to Craig for setting me up to get into this place.  I’ll try to do something with the Attica artifacts sometime soon.

I finally figured out why I have so many new followers.  WordPress featured me on their main site, and I want to thank them for doing so.  I was going to try to explain to you recent followers what I am trying to do here, but it is kind of obvious if you just jump around through my previous posts.  So, welcome and thanks for following.

Willard Suitcases / Names

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I just got word that the governor of New York State has signed Senate Bill S840A.  Here is the summary of the bill;  “(Senate Bill S840A ) relates to patients interred at state mental health hospital cemeteries; directs the release of the name, birthdate and date of death of certain patients 50 years after the date of death”.  I am not totally clear about what “certain patients” means, and to whom this information may be released, but this is certainly good news.  Here is a link to two earlier posts I did about the cemetery and the whole issue of names.  Click on Coleen Spellecy’s and Lin Stuhler’s links to read about the two people who did the most to get this bill through the legislature.  And thanks to Joe Robach for being persistent in getting the bill passed and signed into law.

Willard Suitcases Project  ©2013 Jon Crispin All Rights Reserved

The issue of not being allowed to name the owners of the suitcases has always bothered me.  I have been expressly told by both the New York State Museum and the New York Office of Mental Health that due to state law, I am forbidden to use the surnames of the patients when I publish the photographs, even though some of those names have already been mentioned in local newspapers and in other sources.  I feel that not using surnames continues to dehumanize the folks who were already stigmatized just by being patients at Willard.  Due to this new law, it might be possible, in some instances, to begin using full names.  All in all, this is a pretty exciting development.

Thanks for following and check out the suitcases site to see the latest.

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