Jon Crispin's Notebook

Travel / Willard Suitcases Documentary / St Crispin’s Day

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Yesterday morning I drove out to Ithaca to begin work on the suitcases documentary that I am working on with Peter Carroll and Deborah Hoard.

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After a quick lunch at the Lincoln Street Diner, Peter and I drove up to Willard to shoot some B-roll in the Cemetery.

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It is a special place to visit in so many ways.  When I took this photograph, the smell of mint was intense.  It seemed odd that it was so healthy this late in the year.

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We are in the beginning stages of figuring out how to document my work with the suitcases.  The point of this early filming is to to create a short piece that will help us raise funds.  We will probably run another Kickstarter campaign, which I expect will be up in the early part of next year.

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It was a beautiful day on the lake.  Chilly and breezy, which is to be expected in late October.  I can’t emphasize enough what an amazing spot this is.  The fact that 5,776 former Willard patients are buried here makes for an emotional experience.

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With the help and encouragement of  the wonderful Peggy Ellsworth and Craig Williams, we were given access to the Romulus Historical Society to film the interview today.  It worked out really well (even though the heat is currently off in the building).

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Peter is a genius in setting up lighting for interviews.  This is a frame grab from the video.  I am looking a bit stern in this shot, but I do smile from time to time.  It was a really productive day and I was reminded of how great it is to work with Peter and Deb.

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The historical society has a few suitcases that for some reason never made it into the main collection in Albany.  It was nice to be able to use them in the setup.

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I have driven past this winterized travel trailer on Route 96 repeatedly and finally stopped to take a few photos.  I love how the little wheels are covered too!

Today is St. Crispin’s Day.  I usually try to drink a load of Cognac to assist me in feeling a connection to the French and English soldiers who died at the battle of Agincourt.  If this post is a bit wordy, I’ll blame it on the bottle of Hennessy that seems to be emptying at a rather steady pace.  Check out the amazing Olivier in the 1944 version of  Shakespeare’s Henry V.

Thanks for following. Be well.

 

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.

 

Willard / Meadville Trip / Conneaut Lake Park

AMeadville Trip with Peter September 2018

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.

Meadville Trip with Peter September 2018

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.

Meadville Trip with Peter September 2018

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.

Meadville Trip with Peter September 2018

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.

Meadville Trip with Peter September 2018

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.

 

 

 

Willard Suitcases / Charles F. / Update

Willard Suitcases Project

I’ve been busy with the Hope and Feathers exhibit and quite busy with my freelance work, but the suitcases project is never far from my mind.

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I am working on an interesting collaboration on Charles’ cases and hope to have some exciting news soon.

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He had an interesting collection of ties.

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There are quite a few Penny postcards in the collection as well as some interesting hand- written notes.  You can see the New York State Museum’s catalogue number (in pencil) on the upper right side of the white paper.

Thank you all for following this project.  I will be devoting a ton of time to the suitcases later this month as I continue to develop ideas for getting the photos out to a wide audience.  And Peter Carroll, Deb Hoard, and I are beginning to work hard on a preliminary short film which we can send to funders for the larger documentary that we plan to produce.

 

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.

Roosevelt Island Talk

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The Roosevelt Island Suitcases talk went really well.  Took this photo from the Tramway on the way back to Grand Central.

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I made it back just in time to get the 9.06 to New Haven.

Thanks to Judy Berdy of the Roosevelt Island Historical Society for inviting me back.  It was a lovely evening.

Julianne Wick Davis / Grand Central Station

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The evening at Joe’s Pub was amazing.  Julianne Wick Davis’ song cycle based on my suitcases photos was really incredible.  I was completely blown away by her talent and drive to get this going.  The project is still in the early stages of development, but it is so exciting to have been an inspiration to her. / I was so thrilled that my buddy from Wittenberg, Chris Brigham came out from Chicago for the event.  It was so great to see her.

I am on the Metro North train heading back to New Haven which goes in and out of Grand Central Station.

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It is quite a place.

The suitcases site has been having a slew of problems of late.  We are close to getting it sorted and it is currently back up and running.  It appears that it has been innundated with bot attacks attempting to take over the site.  Thanks to Steve Fox at Born Digital for all his hard work.  It has been very frustrating and costly, but fingers crossed we are working towards a resolution.  Cheers all, and thanks for following.

 

 

New York City/Roosevelt Island Historical Society/Olive

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I had a quick 24 hours in New York City on Thursday/Friday.

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After a great lunch with Zoë Crossland (click on the pdf download media button) in Harlem I went downtown to the 9/11 Memorial.  It is really quite moving.

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The reason for going to New York was to hear Robert Kirkbride‘s presentation on asylums to the Roosevelt Island Historical Society.  I’ll be back there talking about the suitcases on the 10th of May.  Please come if you are in the area.

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It is always nice to take the Tramway over to the Island.

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Cheap as chips and great views as you cross the East River.  Plus Roosevelt Island is a really cool part of the City.

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Judy Berdy is the director of the RIHS and is amazing.  We crossed the street for drinks after Robert’s talk and she just happened to have a set of plans for the Goldwater Memorial Hospital building designed by Isadore Rosnfield.

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I stayed with friends Pieper and Merrill on the Lower East Side.  This is a view of Grand Street from the window of my room.

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I often get requests for more photos of the Olive, so here is a recent one.

Hope to see some of you in New York on the 10th.

Willard Suitcases / Ethel T B / NYC Event (way cool)

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Julianne Wick Davis has been working on a song cycle based on my photographs of the suitcases for the past several years.  Here is a link to a previous post.  She is nearing completion of the process and is starting to move to the next stage.

I am very excited to announce that she has put together a preview of the work that will take place at Joe’s Pub in New York City on the 3rd of May.  Here is a link to where tickets can be purchased.  If you are in the New York area and can make it to the show, it should be amazing.  I’ll be there and I am hoping that Peggy Ross can make it as well.  We are so excited about this.  The space is not huge, so I would encourage you all to get your tickets as soon as possible.  Hope to see you there.

The following Thursday (the 10th), I’ll be back on Roosevelt Island for another talk at the RI Historical society.  More on that soon.  That one is free and open to the public.

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