Jon Crispin's Notebook

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.

Port Byron Historic Lock #52

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.

 

 

 

DC From the Past (Update)

Posted in Architecture, Buildings, Cities, Friends, Government, People by joncrispin on 15/10/2013

After I posted the shots of the capitol building yesterday, I found myself thinking about previous visits to the same location.  I took the above picture sometime in 1985 (when this Studebaker Lark was already over 20 years old).  It was this photo that popped into my mind as I was taking yesterday’s shot.

I took the above photograph on 19th January, 1985 the night before Reagan’s second inauguration.  Stacy Dabney (and I am not sure of the exact spelling) was living under these very same steps.  My friend Brad Edmondson and I were walking around the building the night before the ceremony and we were surprised to see this gentleman living there.  He was happy to talk to us about his situation.  He was a veteran and felt he was getting screwed by the VA.  The Capitol Police didn’t bother him much, but Stacy was pretty sure they would kick him out by the next day.  They did.  I remember thinking at the time that this was a HUGE story that no one was covering.  A homeless guy living under the capitol building.

Brad and I were back in DC that April working on a story about congressman Matt McHugh (D-NY 1975-1993).  We went back to the capitol steps and sure enough Stacy was still in residence.  We caught him late at night just as he was turning in.  It still seems amazing that not only was he living there, but the police never really hassled him.  This shot was taken on 24 April, 1985 and it was the last time I saw him.   Do any of you out there remember meeting him or reading about him?  I did a search for his name and nothing came up.  (UPDATE.  Thanks to reader DotRot for letting me know his real name.; Stacy Abner.  Here is a link to an article that explains the situation.  Still an amazing story.)

I really like this photo of Brad, taken that same evening just after we left Stacy.

Binghamton Asylum Glass Plate Negatives

Posted in Asylums, History, Medicine, Uncategorized by joncrispin on 04/02/2013

In the late 1980’s Brad Edmondson and I went down to the Binghamton asylum buildings that I was photographing for my original New York State asylum project.  While were in the “Castle” building we came across a room that was filled with boxes of glass plate negatives of patients from the early days of the asylum.  It was an amazing trove of images and we immediately hoped to be able to do something with them.  We had no luck getting access, but I have thought about them over the years.  Craig Williams from the New York State Museum arrived at the facility on the morning of 11 September, 2001 to have a look, but events of that day put the kibosh on his access.  About a month ago I heard that the Broome County Historical Society had finally made arrangements to check out the plates.  On Friday I went to Binghamton to have a look at their efforts to organize, clean, and catalogue every plate.  It is such a relief to know that they are finally in safe hands and will be preserved.

The negative’s eventual home  is still up in the air, but the Greater Binghamton Heath Center which runs the facility is eager to get them into safe hands.  Here you see one of the volunteers cleaning the non emulsion side of a plate.  They are all a bit dusty, but otherwise in amazing condition.

Here’s another box of unexposed plates.  Love the graphic design.

I am always on the lookout for bits of ephemera from the buildings.  Another object from the collection is this very cool typewriter.

I’ve never seen one like this and haven’t had the time to research the brand.  Anyone out there ever heard of the Printype Oliver Typewriter?

It is a beautiful machine and I like the little character in the photo below.

Old keyboards are also interesting.

Thanks to the Broome County Historical Society and the Greater Binghamton Health Center for allowing me to see the plates.  And to Roger Luther who like me has a great interest in New York State asylums.

Friends and Thanks Alex

Posted in Friends, Plants by joncrispin on 15/10/2012

I was in Ithaca last week for a quick overnight before a shoot at Binghamton University.  I met Tim and Brad at the Lincoln Street diner for breakfast and it was so great to see them both.  At one point Tim said that he has started reading this blog and was wondering why I haven’t mentioned him (he was only half serious; just busting my balls a bit as friends are wont to do).  I think this is Brad’s first mention as well.  Both great friends of mine.  I am so lucky.

Alex gets a special thanks.  I won’t say why, but this photo of moss is all down to him.  And I really love moss.

Lemon Tart

Posted in Family, Food, Friends by joncrispin on 01/01/2011

Tart

 

When I started this site, I vowed I would never take photos of food that I had cooked.  Since I lived alone in Ithaca in the “80s, I have taken pictures of my dinners from time to time, but lately with the whole food on tv thing, it seems kind of  self indulgent.  But, as Emerson said, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds”.  So, I will write about love and friendship while posting a picture of something I cooked.  John Wilson sent me a cookbook by Raymond Blanc a while back, and around holiday time, I use it alot.  My son Peter loves it when we have big meals planned, and so it is lots of fun to put energy into producing something really good.  Last night was French onion soup.   Tonight was coq au vin, potatoes Dauphinoise, and for dessert, a lemon tart, all from the Blanc book.  This picture of the lemon tart features the crust, of which I am particularly proud. /  Yesterday as 2010 was winding down, I spoke to three amazing people on the phone.  Alex Ross and I speak 4 or 5 days a week, Peter Carroll and I about the same, and John Wilson in the UK and I skype regularly. After our chats I just felt so blessed to have them as friends.  Later in the day Cris and I ran some errands and went to a movie, then she, Pete and I had a quiet New Year’s Eve. /  I was at my sister Karen’s just after Thanksgiving and got to see her entire family.  At Christmas, we went to Maine to see my brother Bob and his family and had a great time. And this past Wednesday, Brad Edmondson and Tania Werbizky spent the night while on their way to the White Mountains. /  As we were eating dinner tonight, after a long day of cooking, I fantasized about a huge long farmhouse table with all the people who give me so much love and support sitting around me.  What a meal that would be. / We take Peter back to Union tomorrow, and I always get a bit melancholy when he leaves.  In his words, I am “waxing a bit poetic” here, but if you can’t say how much your friends and family mean to you, something isn’t quite right. /  So, to all of you dear people in my life, best wishes for the new year.

Willard Cemetery

Posted in Family, Graveyards, History, Landscape, People by joncrispin on 15/09/2010

Every time I go to Willard, NY to do some work relating to the Psych Center, I go to the cemetery and walk around.  The setting is really beautiful; a huge rolling field with a view of Seneca Lake.  It is also a very moving place.  For reasons I have never completely understood (or agreed with), the only names on headstones are in the veteran’s section.  All other graves are marked with a number.  I spent all day Friday photographing the wonderful people who worked at Willard before it was closed, and then Brad Edmondson and I walked across the road to have a look.  I was struck by the fact that it was late Friday afternoon on the 10th of September, the last day of Rosh Hashanah.

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