I continue to make good progress uploading to the suitcases site. Issac’s case had just a few items, but the buttons are nice, as well as the safety pins. I especially like the folding coat hangar.
Peggy and I were thrilled to open Alice’s case and see the beautiful lining.
Check out the latest at willardsuitcases.com.
Thanks for following.
I am just about finished up editing the December 2013 shoots.
The cases were mostly empty, but this newspaper is interesting. It describes a particularly tragic boating accident in Alexandria Bay, NY that occurred in August of 1929. I did a bit or research. Here’s a link to an online newspaper archive that goes into some detail. It wasn’t completely unusual for a suitcase to contain a complete section of a newspaper and little else. I wonder if H. L. had any connection to the Lipe family. (Lipe is not his surname.)
Walter arrived in February of 1945. Nelson Rockford Socks are still available.
Mary Agnes’ case just had this little metal clasp, a shoelace, a hairpin, and a label.
And a pair of “leather-like” boots.
Baker’s case was the only one where we found a bit of “racy” material. Look closely to see the title of the painting. Cheeky!
The storage facility wasn’t always the warmest place to work (except in the summer). Peggy Ross was always such a sport though, and only rarely complained. We ate a lot of hot/sour soup from the local Chinese restaurant for lunch, which helped us get through the day.
Check out the Willard Suitcases site to see the latest. Thanks for following.
I have been editing and uploading the suitcases in the order in which they were shot. This process is quite drawn out as I shot well over 30,000 images during the project and it is an enormous task. I have been feeling really good about it though, as I am spending most days until 1 PM working on the files. The photos in this post are all from a shoot on the 11th of December 2013. At this point, Peg and I had worked through many of the suitcases that were full, and in this stretch the cases were largely empty except for labels.
Mary’s labels are quite evocative. The small one on the left is unfortunately torn, so we can’t see her date of admittance, but the larger one on the right tells us that she came from Syracuse. Dr Elliott’s name shows up often in our work, and I must assume that Elliott Hall at Willard is named after him. (I can’t remember if I have ever linked to this before, but Dr. Robert E. Doran wrote a history of Willard in 1978 that is really interesting. Here is the link.)
There are so many small details that grabbed my attention when I was shooting. This is all that was left of Mabel Y’s label.
Norah’s label tells us quite a lot. Her Willard number, her date of admission, from where she came and into which building she went. Peggy and I often had a laugh over the description of the suitcases; “leather-like” was used constantly. And occasionally “cardboard-like” appeared. When you think of it, cardboard-like is probably…..cardboard!
Ida came to Willard on 16 November 1929. The string on the label is pretty and the Syracuse Post-Standard is from June of 1929.
Charles and his small leather grip arrived from the Binghamton State Hospital.
Richard’s case was clearly a traveling salesman’s and was completely empty.
Here is a detail. The Zanol Company was based in Cincinnati.
Finally for today, Alice R’s case had this nice thermometer, a clasp for holding up a stocking, and a card from a Christmas present.
Please go to the Willard Suitcases site to see more photographs of these particular cases. Click on “The Cases” and scroll down to the bottom to see the latest additions. Thanks for following.
I flew up to New York City on Wednesday to sit in on an early rehearsal of a song cycle that Julianne Wick Davis is composing. She came across the suitcases project a couple of years ago and asked permission to use my photographs as inspiration. She hopes to end up with 20 songs, and had nine ready for the run through. This was the first time she had heard them with voices other than her own.
Julianne put together an amazing group of six actors and four musicians to perform the songs in a rehearsal room at NYU.
Here she is working with Xander Rovang who was musical director for the day.
I was so pleased to be included, and came away feeling super excited about collaborating with her. It is always a bit humbling to inspire creativity in others. I am very excited about where this will end up.
I am getting a lot of editing done lately, and am feeling great about the images.
Stuart’s (maybe Stuert, it appears both ways) case was full of interesting toiletries. Several of the residents had Dr. Lyon’s Tooth Powder.
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.
The attention to detail in commercial design during the time of these products is impressive.
This Ever-Ready shaving brush had quite a bit of use.
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.
The above image is one of my favorites from the project.
The Mennen Company is still in business, and are mostly known for their deodorants.
Lander Perfumer; New York, Memphis, Montreal, and……Binghamton!
I am glad I (or Peg) thought to photograph the back of the “Locktite Humidizer”.
It keeps your tobacco fresh, and they are definitely out of business.
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.
The Vintage News ran a nice little interview about the suitcases on their site. You can check it out here.
I have been spending a lot of time editing the suitcases in the past few weeks, and have set a goal to finish all of that work by early April. Over the 5+ years of shooting, the amount of images generated is quite massive. So check out the willardsuitcases.com site if you haven’t been there lately. All of the recent folks are at the bottom of “The Cases” page. I am uploading on a regular basis. Most of the cases that I have been working on are not very full, but the labels are so evocative. Bertha S was clearly at the Newark State School (The New York State Custodial Asylum for Feeble-Minded Women) before she came to Willard.
Florence G. arrived at Willard in 1936 and lived in Eliott Hall. Her two cases contained little more than some coat hangars, a key, and a label.
On Ida’s label, the “returned from family” line is interesting and a bit sad. One always wonders what kind of connection the patients at Willard had with their families.
Ellen H. arrived in March of 1967. This type of tie down ribbon was common in many of the suitcases. The green is such a beautiful color.
When I ran the second Kickstarter appeal, the top reward was a limited edition book that was for backers at the $500.00 level. I had 40 printed and still have a few left that are numbered and signed. If you would like to help the project in a big way, I would be most grateful for the support.
Many of you have asked about a book, and I realize that $500.00 is beyone the budget of a lot of the followers of this project. So I have had another run of the reward book printed. It is a slim volume that contains 32 suitcase photos and a picture of the attic where the cases were stored, along with a bit of text. I am selling these for $60.00 + $10.00 shipping and they are really beautifully designed and printed. If you are interested, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You will then get an invoice through Square, which processes my transactions, and once payment is made, I will ship it right out. Paypal also works for me, and if you email me, I’ll give you the details. If you want one for yourself and one as a gift, I’ll send along two for $100.00 (plus the $10.00 shipping).
Thanks again for following and for all the support.
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.
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.
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.
It would seem such an easy thing to change, but New York State OMH has no interest in doing so.
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.
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.