Jon Crispin's Notebook

A Tale of Two Cemeteries / New School Talk Announcement

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Last week when Peter and I were driving back from Cleveland/Meadville we decided to take back roads up to the Thruway.  I had especially wanted to go through North Warren,   PA to see the  Warren State Hospital.  It is only about an hour from Meadville and is a really amazing facility.

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It is still an active psychiatric hospital so I wasn’t allowed to photograph, but I was actually more interested in the cemetery.

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I have written often about the issue of names in relation to my suitcases project.  Especially how the State of New York prohibits the use of full names of the patients in respect to my work and in regards to the hospital cemeteries.

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Here in Pennsylvania patient’s names are on the grave stones.

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If you were to drive north about 60 miles into New York State and go to the cemetery at the Gowanda Psychiatric Center, you will find an entirely different story.

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While there are a few graves marked with names, the vast majority only have numbers.  This is mostly due to New York State’s primitive privacy laws, which supposedly protect families from the “shame” of having a relative who was institutionalized.

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There are groups throughout New York that are working very hard to memorialize patients who are buried in hospital cemeteries.  There is a lovely Helen Keller quote on the memorial stone above, and this cemetery is very well maintained.

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It just seems so wrong to me that New York State continues to stigmatize folks who were patients at state hospitals by basically denying anyone (including families) the knowledge that they existed.  Here is a link to another post I did that gives a bit more background on the issue of names.  Just don’t try to contact John B. Allen at NYS OMH.  He no longer works there.

Thanks for following.  I’ll be presenting the suitcases project at the New School on Thursday the 12th of September at 6:00 PM.  Here is a link to the announcement, but as of today, the time listed is off.  I start speaking at 6:00 and it ends at 8:00.  I really hope to see some of you there.  It will be interesting.

 

Kathmandu Walk

Posted in Art, historic preservation, Jon Crispin, Travel, Uncategorized by joncrispin on 23/07/2019

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Cris and I usually walk to and from the Hotel Tibet to the World Education office, but since it is monsoon and has been raining in the mornings we only walk back at the end of the day.  It takes about 45 minutes and, while it can be a bit sweaty and dusty, I really look forward to it.  Yesterday I stopped to take the picture below and then this young man shot me this lovely smile.

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It is interesting to be in a country where so much work is still done by hand.

Thanks for following along.

California

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I’m sitting at the outside bar at the Long Beach Airport drinking a beer and waiting for my flight back home.

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It has been a pretty quick but lovely trip.

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The above photos are from a nice trip to Olvera Street that we took to eat some great Mexican food and walk around a bit.  Frida Kahlo is everywhere!

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Cris and I always try to go to Huntington Beach.  This day was cool, grey, and rainy.  Lovely.

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I really like wandering on and under the pier.

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It wasn’t very crowded due to the weather.

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A Ruby’s chocolate shake always hits the spot.

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I don’t remember Zoltar from previous years.  He will tell your fortune though.

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I am kind of attracted to photographing weird stuff.

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I wonder how many times the Life Ring has been used.

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The nearest In n Out is about a 30 minute walk from Lynne’s house.  So much to see along the way!

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My brother-in-law John knows so much about LA and it is amazing to spend a day with him cruising around.  This is the Frank Lloyd Wright house in Brentwood.  It is referred to as the Sturges House but is most famous for the fact that Jack Larson the actor who played Jimmy Olsen on the Superman TV show, lived here for many years.  It was to be auctioned a few years ago, but didn’t sell.  It is now abandoned and in rough shape.  Shocking.

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It is in a very quaint and beautiful neighborhood.

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Check out this deck from below.  It is nearly the size of the house which is only 1400 square feet.  I am always saddened and amazed that such an important house can sit abandoned and empty.  Especially in Brentwood!

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John grew up in Palos Verdes, which is to me the most amazing community in the LA area.  It was nice to go there for a coffee before driving back to Tustin.  This fountain is in the center of the little commercial area.

Thanks for following!

 

Trip to Central New York

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This past Wednesday my pal Craig Williams hired me to take some photographs of the old Lock 52 in Port Byron, NY.  It is now an historic site with a great visitor center (open seasonally).

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The entrance to the site is off the New York State Thruway and is really interesting and well worth a stop if you are driving East.

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These limestone blocks are enormous.

Craig had me photographing some views to match historic photographs of the lock when it was still in use.  We worked for a bit before lunch which was at a really great diner in Port Byron.  I sat facing this flag, which I had seen before but never understood.

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Here is the text from the card above the stars. “This is a police flag.  Each strip on the emblem represents certain respective figures.  The blue center line represents law enforcement, the top black stripes represents the public, the bottom black stripes represents the criminals.”  I hesitate to be negative here, but as someone who is really interested in design as a way of conveying ideas, this seems completely wacky to me. / Great lunch though, fine diner with nice people.

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I am really digging this fish display on the wall above our table.  Award winning!

At lunch Craig mentioned that Brigham Young lived in Port Byron before heading west and that his house was still standing but in rough shape.  Some work was started on a restoration, but due to poor health of the two contractors, it was stopped.

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The plaque on the door reads “This wood frame house built by James Pine circa 1818 and later occupied by Brigham Young and family.  Young’s first child a girl named Elizabeth, born here September 1825.”  Given the Mormon’s interest in history and genealogy, I was shocked to see this property is such a state of neglect and apparent disinterest by the church.

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A restored tavern is on part of the historic canal site.  These bottles sit atop the bar, which is partly original.  It seems rye whiskey was seriously popular in the 19th century. / After Port Byron I drove down to Ithaca to spend the night with my friends Brad and Tania.

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Their house is filled with great things including tons of Fiestaware.

A trip to Ithaca is never complete without a visit to the Lincoln Street Diner.

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Peter had just received the latest OSMO camera and we got the chance to goof around with it.

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Very cool.

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Lookin’ good Sport!

Thanks for following.  Happy Holidays.

 

 

 

Symbols

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  Whenever I am here in Nepal I always keep an eye out for bricks, as seeing them makes me think of my good friend Richard Pieper.  Most buildings are adorned with them, and the walls surrounding the Royal Palace are all brick.  On our daily walk to the World Education office we pass by a large section of the Palace wall which is undergoing a post earthquake renovation.  I saw this pile and noticed the markings and didn’t think much of it at the time, but the next day I stopped and took this picture.  It is not at all uncommon to see the swastika used as a symbol in various ways around Nepal.  It got me thinking about how we in the West are so conditioned to see the obvious negative aspects of it.  I went to the wiki page and learned a lot of interesting facts about its history and usage.  I would encourage anyone interested to check it out.  What got to me especially was that under the section of the wiki that showed the varieties of swastikas, the Hakenkreuz (second row, bottom left) gave me a visceral reaction.

We head back to the US on Sunday.  I have managed to pick up a bothersome cold and have been a bit less active than I would like, but Cris’ work ends today and we will have some time to goof around tomorrow and Sunday morning.  Thanks for following.

Boudhanath / Full Moon

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Last night was the full moon and Cris thought it might be a nice idea to go to Boudhanath Stupa and have a stroll around.  We have come here quite often, but always during the day.

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It was a beautiful evening, the temperature was perfect, and the feeling was very peaceful and relaxing.

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This giant prayer wheel spins constantly and is just inside the doors of the little temple on the site.

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The area is really interesting.  One enters the main gate at 6 on a clock face and everyone strolls quietly around in a clockwise direction.  The stupa is on the inside of the clock and  is surrounded on the outside by restaurants, guesthouses, and smaller business enterprises.  Dogs and pigeons are everywhere.

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Nepal is so interesting in terms of religion.  The culture here blends Hinduism and Buddhism in what seems to me a beautiful way.  I have talked to Nepali friends about this and it seems quite natural to them.  If you think about religion in the West, there isn’t so much crossover.  The closest I can think of to this is Unitarianism, which is how I was raised, and seems to encourage people to take the best of all religions and build a personal philosophy around what you find useful.  One year my Sunday School was called “The Church Across the Street” and we spent the entire time visiting just about every church and denomination in Meadville.  I loved the Holy Rollers.

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Because one walks in a circle around the stupa it is easy to just keep going without realizing where you entered, which I eventually figured out is one reason for the visit.  I just had the feeling that it would be possible to walk all evening and not feel the time passing.  It was a lovely experience.

 

American Demographics / Hope and Feathers Exhibit (Image #10)

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I have delivered all of the American Demographics photos to Hope and Feathers for framing.  I get back from Nepal on the 1st and the show will be hung on the 2nd.  The opening is Thursday the 4th.

I had heard that a house was to be moved in Ithaca and went down to hang out and watch the action.  These two guys seemed to be enjoying themselves.  You can just make out the corner of the house that is attached to this cool Peterbuilt.  Robby Aceto did a great job on the colors.

Hope to see you on the 4th.

Willard / Meadville Trip / Conneaut Lake Park

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After living in D.C. for the past 5 years, our son Peter has moved home for a bit to take some classes and do GRE prep.  It is nice to have him around.  Soon after he returned to Massachusetts we planned a quick trip to Meadville and Pittsburgh to catch a Pirates game.

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The Willard employee reunion dish-to-pass event was happening on the Saturday that we drove out, so he and I stopped to say hi to old friends.  We had time afterwards to go to the cemetery which is always a very moving experience.

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The sign at the Jewish part of the cemetery is looking a bit run down and could use some help.

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The little stone marker is still there.

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Here is one of the numbered graves in that part of the cemetery.  It makes me so sad that #43 has no name.  The state of New York could remedy this if they cared enough to publish the names of the patients who are buried here.

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Before Peter and I continued on to Meadville, we stopped by the Romulus Historical Society building to see the recent exhibit updates.  It was nice to see Craig Williams and Debbie Nichols who had been a nursing student and then a nurse at Willard.

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Here is Debbie sitting next to her actual uniform.  It is a great little museum and well worth a visit.

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I’ve been stopping at the Angola Rest Area on the New York Thruway for as long as I can remember.  It is so nice to walk over the highway to get to the main building.

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The first stop was a visit to Eddie’s Footlongs on the lake road outside of Meadville.  I had 2 with the works.

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Next stop Hank’s Frozen Custard.  I had 2 here as well.  Chocolate.

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On Sunday morning we got word that the Pirate’s game was cancelled due to rain, so we checked out of the motel and drove to Allegheny College to see the tree we planted in honor of my Dad.

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My sister Karen chose a lovely Winter King, and it is thriving.

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It was a rainy Sunday morning and after breakfast at the Meadville Market House Grill, we drove out  for a last Hank’s and then around Conneaut Lake.  The amusement park was not surprisingly deserted, but it was strange that country music was playing through the loudspeakers.

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There was no one there to yell at us to stay off the rides, so we wandered and took some pictures.

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Ugh, clowns.

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On the left above is the Blue Streak roller coaster.  I was never keen on riding it, but once Judy Jacoby who was my girlfriend for a short time convinced me to go on it.  It was fine.

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It is difficult to know for sure, but I think the park is still open.  But it was a bit eerie to walk around with the music blaring and nobody else there.

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The coaster car is pretty classic.

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A Century Flyer made in Dayton, Ohio.

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Here’s the entry into the first tunnel.

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The master controls. ↑

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Peter and I actually rode the Devil’s Den many years ago.  The “Infamous Gum Wall!! is just that.  People started sticking chewing gum on the wall when the ride slowed down and it became….well infamous.

Cristine and I are off to Nepal on Friday.  I hope to post regularly from Kathmandu.

Cheers everyone and thanks for following.

 

 

 

Lock 12, Erie Canal / “Ward’s Island” Derrick Boat Decomissioned (EDITED)

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I got a call yesterday from my friend and sometimes patron Craig Williams.  Craig worked at the New York State Museum and was responsible for getting me access to the Willard Suitcases, as well as work photographing the panels and artifacts from the World Trade Center 9-11 attack, and a ton of other interesting photography projects.

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Craig has been really concerned with a plan that the NY State Canal Corporation has to scrap some historically important canal boats and sink them off the coast of Long Island to creat artificial reefs.  He asked me to meet him at Lock 12 in Tribe’s Hill, NY and take a few photos of one of the boats as it made its way Eastward.

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Above is the derrick boat “Ward’s Island” which is being pushed from Lyons, NY  through the Erie Canal System and down the Hudson to be sunk off the coast of Long Island.

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Craig and fellow supporters of Canal history are waging a bit of a protest in regards to the State’s decision to move ahead with this plan.  On the left is Will Van Dorp who has a great wordpress site having to do with shipping.  Here is a link that talks about the Ward’s Island.  Interestingly enough, the boat was commissioned by the NY State office of Mental Hygiene in 1929 to ferry cars and people from Manhattan to the Ward’s Island asylum.

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After about 10 years downstate, she was sent up to the Canal to begin life as a derrick boat, and was only decomissioned last year.  Here she is in the lock.  Note that this is the stern; she is being pushed backwards through the Canal.

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Here’s a detail of the stern.  She was sitting really high in the water as much of the weight was stripped out before the beginning of the trip.

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It was an incredibly beautiful day at the Lock.  I have felt for a long time that the Canal is a very underutilized feature of New York State.  Destroying a part of its history is probably not a good way to attract positive attention to it.

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Here’s the tug Lucy H pushing her towards Amsterdam.

The next boat scheduled for scrap is the tug “Urger” (Edit; Urger is not meant for scrap.   As of now the State wants to take it out of the water, beach it, and make it into a display at Lock E13. / Also, Will Van Dorp contacted me with a few more links about the Ward’s Island.  Here and here).  Here is a link to the Urger.  Let’s hope it is not too late to save her.

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.

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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.

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