Jon Crispin's Notebook

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 / John R

Willard Suitcases Project

John R had quite a collection of interesting objects in his cases.  He certainly was interested in the wild west.

Willard Suitcases Project

The green shirt has a classic western look and the tie with the scantily clad woman is pretty cool.  One wonders if he ever wore it, and if so, where.  The object in the middle of the photo is a jock strap.  I remember them from gym class when I was a kid, but you don’t see them around much anymore.

Willard Suitcases Project

Back in the day, men sometimes wore garters with their socks.  This color gray is beautiful.

Willard Suitcases Project

I am thinking that these leather straps went with some sort of jodhpur trousers, but I suppose they could have also been worn around the wrists.  Anyone out there have an idea about this?

Click here to see all of John’s cases.  Don’t forget to click on the “view all” tab, as there are more than 25 images in the gallery.  I am really proud of this one.

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.

Raleigh / Galveston /Willard Suitcases

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I had an amazing time in Galveston at NamiFest.  What a lovely group of people and I felt so very welcomed by everyone.  My presentation went really well and I got fantastic feedback about the suitcase photographs.  NAMI is a fantastic grass roots organization, and if you or friends and family are dealing with mental health issues, they are a valuable resource.

Tomorrow I am off to Raleigh for the “Lives on the Hill” event which centers on the Dix Hospital complex.  On Thursday just after 12.15 PM, I will be on “The State of Things” program with Frank Stasio.  For those of you near a computer at that time, it can be streamed here.  It will also be rebroadcast in the evening at 8.00 PM.  The big event is on Sunday.  Here are the details.  If you follow the project, please stop by and say hello.  I love meeting folks and talking about the suitcases.  In addition to the Sunday event, photos are on display at The Mahler Fine Art, and at the Busy Bee Cafe.  It should be an interesting weekend.

Durbar Square / Hindu Gods

Travel to Nepal and Day 1

Cris starts work tomorrow, so today was a day to walk around a bit.  The earthquake damage is very obvious with piles of brick everywhere and scaffolding around many buildings.

Travel to Nepal and Day 1

These shots are all from around Durbar Square.

Travel to Nepal and Day 1

Cris would gasp just about every time we turned a corner in this part of Kathmandu.  She came here first in 1979 as a Peace Corps volunteer, has subsequently come back to work in Nepal on a regular basis, and is really familiar with the city. It is really shocking to see the devastation.

Travel to Nepal and Day 1

As we were walking back to the hotel I started noticing pictures of Hindu gods that were about 3 feet off the ground and which were spread out about every five yards along a huge brick wall.  They are evocative in the odd way that things that attract my attention are.  I began taking pictures of them when I saw this next guy, who looked much more contemporary than the rest.

Travel to Nepal and Day 1

These next two are Krishna.

Travel to Nepal and Day 1

He is almost always depicted with a cow and a flute.

Travel to Nepal and Day 1

And often a milkmaid.

Travel to Nepal and Day 1

This sign was higher up on the wall and Cris was looking at it and smiling as I walked past her.  It is amazing to come to a place like Nepal with someone who speaks and reads the language.  It basically says, don’t piss or shit on the wall.  Which is why the images of the gods are placed just about the height at which a man’s stream would fall.  It seems a pretty effective deterrent.

Travel to Nepal and Day 1

The issue of public defecation is something that the current government has begun to work on (for obvious reasons).

Travel to Nepal and Day 1

We like Ganesh as he is the remover of obstacles and the patron of the arts and sciences. For some reason, we have always associated him with travel, which is something we do quite often.  Finally, here is Hanuman, the monkey god.

Travel to Nepal and Day 1

Thanks for following. We are a bit sketchy on Hindu lore, so please pardon me if I have gotten anything wrong about the gods.

Olive’s New Bowl

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When Judy Berde and I were making arrangements for my talk on Roosevelt Island, I got an email from her asking if I had a dog.  The question came out of nowhere, but I told her about Olive.  When I finished my talk she presented me with a box with this amazing gift inside.  Olive now has a new bowl, and she loves it!  (Well, it has food in it and she is a Labrador; what’s not to like?)  I think these bowls are for sale through the Roosevelt Island Historical Society, as well as mugs with the same text. Any of you who live in the metro New York area should think about joining the organization; Judy does a great job and the island has a really interesting history.

Olive is also now rocking a new Red Sox collar, which is a gift from my sister Karen.  Thanks Sis.

Bradley Airport Terminal B

Bradley Airport Terminal B

Peter and I used to drop off Cristine at this terminal when she would be leaving on some of her long trips to South Asia for work.  After she went to her gate he and I would sit on a bench at curbside and record the names and numbers on the shuttle vans as they came past.  I still have some of the notebooks that we used all those years ago.

On Friday I drove her to the airport for a brief trip to DC and on the approach road, this is what we saw.  I guess I knew that they would be tearing it down at some point, but it was still a bit of a shock. / She flies in later tonight, but I came down early to try to get a shot.  The sun went below the horizon within 30 seconds of taking this photo and the light changed completely.  It is always amazing to me that a building once so full of activity could be reduced to this.  It will be completely gone very soon.

Willard Suitcases/Margaret D./NYC Talk

Willard Suitcases ©2015 Jon Crispin

Margaret D. came to Willard with almost all of her household, including her car.  I posted here and here about her before. / The cutlery in the La Lure box is very cool.

On Tuesday the 9th of February I will be giving a presentation about the suitcases sponsored by the Roosevelt Island Historical Society.  It will take place at the New York Public Library branch, 524 Main Street on the island.  The start time is 6.30 pm and I would encourage anyone coming to get there a bit early, as the branch closes at 7.45 and we will need to start on time.

 There is very little on-street parking, I would encourage everyone to come by public transport.  (Hey, it’s New York City!)  Here is a link for travel directions.  If you are coming by tram, the station is at Second Avenue and 60th Street.  You will need to pay with a Metrocard ($2.75).  When you arrive on the island, take red bus (free) to the second stop and walk forward about 50 yards to the library.  If coming by subway, take the F train from Manhattan to Roosevelt Island.  Then the red bus to the first stop and walk 50 yards to the library.  If you follow the project online or have been in touch directly, please come up and introduce yourself.  I will be in the building by 5.00, I hope, and will have time to chat once everything is set up.  Hope to see you there.

 I noticed today that the willardsuitcases.com site is acting up a bit.  All of the information below the photograph on the splash page seems to have disappeared.  Fortunately everything else seems to be working, including access to the cases page.  I have a call in to Steve Fox who did a beautiful job designing the site, and I hope we can get it cleared up soon.

Sulgrave Manor / La Reine

Posted in Architecture, Buildings, historic buildings, historic preservation, History by joncrispin on 27/11/2015

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Cris and I are in DC for a few days visiting Peter.  There are so many nice apartment buildings along Connecticut Avenue, and these two caught my eye this morning.

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These residential prewar buildings are so common throughout the district.  They sure don’t build ’em like they used to.

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