Jon Crispin's Notebook

Willard Suitcases / Joseph A #3

20141121,059wp

It took a while, but I finally finished editing Joseph’s two trunks.  Peg and I worked on them on two different days, three weeks apart and the photos did not end up in a logical sequence.  It took me a while to organize them for the suitcases site.

20141121,040wp

Setting up and shooting cases containing lots of clothes presented challenges.  We always strove to make the arrangements look natural, but I in particular dreaded the days where all we had to work with was clothing.

20141121,047wp

Another shout out to Peggy Ross here.  The museum had individually conserved each item and assigned it a unique catalogue number.  In instances of larger collections like Joseph’s, the items were stored not in the cases themselves, but in archival museum boxes.  Peg was instrumental in helping with the setup by unwrapping each piece and making notes about the box from which the items came, then helping me lay them out.

20141121,070wp

I would then make a number of wide shots, and finally move in for the details.  Once the arrangement was in place, I rarely if ever moved the objects around.  I’m not sure why, but it was important to me to maintain the integrity of the original setup.  Once I finished shooting, Peg would rewrap each item in the original conservation material and return it back into the museum storage boxes.  In retrospect it is not surprising that it took  us over five years to shoot all the cases, and that it is taking me another two years to edit everything.  I am making great progress though.

I would also mention that the clothing photographs are now among my favorites.

Thanks for following.  If you want to see all of the photos from Joseph’s cases, click this link.  Don’t forget to click on the “view all” button.  The default setting only shows the first 25 images.

 

Willard Suitcases / Joseph A’s Wife

In yesterday’s post I mentioned that Joseph had two trunks in the collection and that one of them contained his wife’s clothes.

20141028,121wp

An aspect of this project that I find most interesting is to do with questions that arise from looking at the possessions of the patients.  We know from yesterday’s post that Joseph’s trunks arrived more than a year after he was admitted.  The fact that so much of his wife’s clothing was sent to him makes me wonder if she was alive for part of that year, or if she had died before August of 1945 when he was admitted.  Did her death have something to do with his troubles?  Who sent the trunks to Willard over a year after he became a patient?

20141028,156wp

There are, of course, answers to most of these questions.  They are in the patient records that are housed in the New York State Archives.  Due to state law and the policies of the State Office of Mental Health, almost no one (including the descendants of Willard patients) has access to these documents.

Early on in the project, I came to realize that my photographs could encourage viewers to think about the residents of Willard in a manner that went beyond their diagnoses.  In most ways, the official records are not relevant to my feelings about the 400+ people whose cases are in the collection.  As I continue to edit the images, my connection to the patients and staff at Willard continues to grow.

20141028,119wp

Peg Ross and I came across numerous small doggies as we were shooting the suitcases.  This one is particularly cute.

I’ll have more to post tomorrow.  Cheers all.

Willard Suitcases / Joseph A

This week I have begun editing Joseph A’s two trunks.  I expect it will take quite a while to get through all the photographs, as one trunk contains a ton of his clothing and the other is full of his wife’s possessions. I hope to post daily as I work through the collection.

20141028,077wp

I don’t believe I have posted an inventory before.  This one appears to have been put together by Willard employee M. McCarry; you can see her name on the bottom right.  Joseph was admitted in August of 1945, but it seems his trunks did not arrive at Willard until April of 1946.  Some of the annotations are interesting, especially the notes that indicate that some of the clothing was with him on the ward.

I won’t be uploading the entire collection for several days, but will hope to post a few photos from it daily.  Thanks for following.

Nixon Library

Posted in History, Jon Crispin, museums, Uncategorized by joncrispin on 27/06/2017

The Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Birthplace in Yorba Linda, CA opened shortly after Cris and I got together.  Her mom, Dorothy Smith, was one of the early employees and worked at the ticket desk and on occasion, the gift shop.  (We have an amazing set of Camp David whiskey glasses thanks to her.)

Nixon Library

 We hadn’t visited in over 20 years and thought it might be time to check it out again.  (And it is not too far from the In-N-Out in Fullerton.)  My memories of it were quite positive, as I thought it told Nixon’s story in an objective and realistic manner.

The hallway above leads to a reproduction of the East Room where he gave his farewell speech to his staff.

Nixon Library

The exhibits provide a good sense of context about what was going on in the sixties.

Nixon Library

Here he is in all his glory.  This is such an iconic photograph.  I always thought that the “Nixon’s The One” slogan left a lot of room for ambiguity.  I like how LBJ appears to be  giving him the hairy eyeball in this shot.

Nixon Library

Great examples of Nixon election ephemera are spread throughout the museum.  What is up with the “Protest! and Win! with Nixon”?

Nixon Library

Here I am sitting at a recreation of Nixon’s desk in the fake oval office.  This is kind of funny for me.  My childhood friend Mike Hogan’s uncle, Vice Admiral Robert Bruce Brown was the Surgeon General of the Navy and lived at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda.  Mike and I used to visit in the summer and Admiral Brown once took us to the White House for a tour.  One of his best friends was LBJ’s physician and we got the whole behind the scene look.  LBJ was out of town, but we saw his beagles Him and Her.  Later, as we walked past the Oval Office we were asked if we wanted to sit at the desk, which of course we did.  Still wish I had photographic evidence of that occasion.

Nixon Library

Here are some more great buttons.  Right on, Mister President!

Nixon Library

An entire section of the museum is dedicated to the Viet Nam war.

Nixon Library

Including a giant pile of correspondence from people both opposed to, and in favor of the war.

Nixon Library

Here’s the Colt .45 that Elvis gave to Nixon.  There is an amazing and totally bizarre story behind this gift.  Totally Elvis!

Nixon Library

These fake balloons are meant to be from the convention after he accepted the nomination (for the second time, I think).

Nixon Library

I had completely forgotten what a total ass kicking McGovern got in 1972.  This map pretty much says it all.  I was so bummed on election night after having driven from Springfield, Ohio to Meadville just to vote for George.  I am pretty sure I got totally wasted that night.

Nixon Library

But then came Watergate.  I wonder if the White House phone number is still 202 456 1414.  I like the special buttons for Chapin, Haldeman, and Rosemary Woods.  “Hey Rosemary, can you erase some of that tape for me?”

Nixon Library

“Sure Mr. President, no problemo”

Nixon Library

And let’s throw in some dirty tricks too!

Nixon Library

There are some very good recordings of the taping system for all to hear.  And if you are a researcher, the library component of the facility has the entire collection.  Amazing.

Nixon Library

There is something about this photo of Bork.  It reminds me of a promotional still from a bad 1970s era TV show.  After both Richardson and Ruckelshaus resigned instead of carrying out the order to fire Cox, Bork carried it out.  I think it must be one reason the long knives came out when he was nominated to the Supreme Court.  The political world hasn’t really been the same since.

Nixon Library

There are a few more cool exhibits toward the end of the walk-through.  Here is Cris hangin’ with Pat and Dick at the Rose Parade.

Nixon Library

I like this life size cutout in front of the door of his first law firm.

Nixon Library

The gardens are really beautiful.  Off in the distance is the house where Nixon and his brothers were born.  When Cris and I were first together in Placentia, we used to drive over to see it before the site became a museum.  It was then occupied by the custodian of the elementary school (now gone) where Cris got her polio vaccine sugar cube. It had a sign on it that said “Private Residence”.  It is amazing that most of the furniture inside now is original to the family and to the house.

Nixon Library

You can also go into the actual helicopter that flew him from the White House lawn when he resigned, although it was closed when we were there due to the heat.

  Thanks for following, and making it to the end of this long post.  More suitcases soon.

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.

20140814,220s

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.

20140814,078s

Elizabeth C’s dress is so beautiful.

20140814,079s

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.

Robert LeRoy Crispin, Born 19 April 1917

world war II Yokohama

That’s my father in the middle.  He was born in Central City, Colorado one hundred years ago today.  He died on 14 August 2007. / I think I might have posted this photograph some time ago, but it is an image that is on the wall in my studio and I am really drawn to it.  The original is a 4″x5″ contact print and it is beautiful.

Dad WWII002

Apparently, the photographer was someone called Noyes and I assume he was using the standard Navy issue camera which was most likely a Graflex.  His pals were “Kinch” Kincheloe and Chuck Louin (not sure of the surname, it is hard to tell from the writing).

The date here is interesting as the Japanese surrendered on the 2nd.  My dad was on a ship next to the USS Missouri on that day.  Two days later he was in Yokohama Harbor, and shortly after that he and his pals were the first Americans on the island of Hokkaido.  The Navy had taught his to speak, read, and write fluent Japanese in about 18 months.  He was pretty good at languages.

Thinking of you today Dad.

Willard Suitcases / Delmar H

Willard Suitcases / Delmar H.
©2013 Jon Crispin
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Delmar had several leather cases which were distinguished by some lovely travel labels.

Willard Suitcases / Delmar H.
©2013 Jon Crispin
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The Hotel Stella d’Italia & Aquila Nera in Bologna doesn’t seem to exist anymore.  One of the few online links I could find was here.

Willard Suitcases Project

This was another one of his beautiful cases.

Willard Suitcases Project

Sadly, this hotel doesn’t appear to be around anymore either.  Here is a link to a postcard that is for sale.

Willard Suitcases Project

And I can’t begin to guess the relevance of Voltaire to the Republica Argentina.

Check out the latest uploads at the suitcases site, and thanks for following.

Willard Suitcases / John R (again) / Quote

willard suitcases

I have learned so much from people who stumble across the project and take the time to comment.  Simon wrote in to say this about the photographs.  “The psychology of keeping belongings is as complicated and as deep as the human spirit itself, the depth of which we will never see. Lets hope recording this project takes us closer.”

Willard Suitcases Project

Thanks, Simon.  Such a perceptive look at my work with the collection, and I really appreciate your insight.

willard suitcases

I had photographed John R’s case over two different days, and yesterday when I edited and uploaded the photographs from the second shoot I was reminded how much fun it was to see what he brought with him to Willard.

Willard Suitcases Project

He clearly had a thing for the Lone Ranger and Tonto, as well as for these discreetly covered women.

willard suitcases

John was clearly learning to speak English, as there were lots of worksheets where he was practicing his vocabulary.

Willard Suitcases Project

It is possible that John worked for a time at GE as he had these brochures about insurance and a pension plan.

willard suitcases

The Mickey Rooney photo is pretty nice.

This is a good time to remind you all about the comments on this site.  It is not obvious where to click to see them, but it usually worth the effort.  At the very bottom of the post is a small “comments” button.  Click it to see what folks are saying.  The dress that I posted last week has been getting quite a few interesting responses, including an amazing one that just came in from my pal Dhyan.  Check it out.

Willard Suitcases / John R / Talks

willard suitcases

When I talk about the project I am often asked if I have a favorite suitcase.  My answer is always the same; from the start, I have seen the collection as a whole and no case stands out to me. But I do have some favorite photographs from the project, and this is one of them.

willard suitcases

 The dark glasses are pretty cool.

willard suitcases

This was the first time I had ever seen an actual Shinola tin.

willard suitcases

We saw several of these Yardley Talc containers.

willard suitcases

I have uploaded the rest of the photos from John’s case at the suitcases site.  Check it out!

There are two upcoming events near to me where I will be talking about the suitcases.  I’ll have copies of the second Kickstarter reward book for sale at the Hadley, MA Barnes & Noble this Saturday the 18th.  I’ll be there from 2.00 – 5.00 PM.  Come by and say hi.  And on Monday I will be giving a talk at the Amherst Woman’s Club.  I expect to start at 1.00 PM.

Thanks for following!

%d bloggers like this: