Jon Crispin's Notebook

Sox v Yankees

Posted in Architecture, Baseball, Family, Sport by joncrispin on 01/09/2011


This is my great nephew and godson Crispin Duryee who is an avid Yankee fan.

He and his dad had planned to go see the Sox/Yankees game last night but Burr had a schedule conflict and couldn’t make it.  I was more than happy to step in take him, and it was a blast.  I hadn’t gone to a ballgame with an eight year old since Peter was little, and it definitely brought back memories.

It was a beautiful night for baseball and the Yanks/Sox rivalry meant for a crowd that was really into the game.  Crispin is amazingly knowledgable about the Yankees and was fascinated by all the statistical information displayed on the new jumbotrons.  He was a perfect companion at a game; never bored, always in tune with the action and unabashedly rooting for his team.  The Sox won 9-4 which made me happy but was surely disappointing for him.  We’ll see what happens tonight when Burnett goes up against Lester.


Posted in Flowers, Plants by joncrispin on 10/04/2011

End of Winter


This year the crocus seems to have multiplied a bit.  I am always amazed that these guys pop up through the pine needles, leaves, sticks and assorted detritus of Winter. / I haven’t posted for a long time.  (See previous post referring to the “posting/karma congestion ratio”.)  The end of the Winter has been difficult in some ways, and the bleakness of that season had carried on into Spring.  Seeing these flowers come back year after year is a terrifically reassuring occurrence, and one that ushers in a more hopeful time.

Willard Asylum Suitcase

Posted in Clothing, History, People by joncrispin on 18/03/2011

I’m not sure yet where I am going with this project, but I wanted to post some shots for feedback.  /  In 1995, the New York State Museum staff were moving items out of The Willard Psychiatric Center.  It was being closed by the State Office of Mental Health, and would eventually become a state run drug rehabilitation center.  Craig Williams was made aware of an attic full of suitcases in the pathology lab building.  The cases were put into storage when their owners were admitted to Willard, and since the facility was set up to help people with chronic mental illness, these folks never left.

The Museum made arrangements to have the suitcases moved to the Rotterdam storage facility, where staff have catalogued each one, and have carefully wrapped and preserved their contents.

An exhibit of a selection of the cases was produced by the Museum and was on display in Albany in 2003 or 2004. It has also traveled around New York State.   It was very moving to read the stories of these people, and to see artifacts from their lives before they became residents of the Asylum.

This particular case belonged to Freda B…..(I would really like to use her whole name here, but there is a massive debate going on as to whether people who have been at Willard and other psyc centers need to be protected by privacy laws.  I come down strongly on the side that it is dehumanizing and stigmatizing to pretend that she doesn’t have a surname.)

I am so interested in these cases.  I like the idea of documenting the care and energy that the Museum has put into them.  And I am totally wigged out by being able to photograph a representation of the lives of people who struggled so much to make it in a very stressful and confusing world.

It is still early days, and I am struggling a bit as to how I should approach this.  The cases have been photographed before, but in a totally different manner.  The first hurdle seems to be cleared; I have access.  The next is time, which I think I can manage.  The big one is funding, which is something on which I need to work.  And finally, what could come out of the project.  An exhibit would be nice, or maybe a book.

I have been working on some ideas with Dr Karen Miller, a writer and psychiatrist.  She has also been spending time with the cases, and doing research on the lives of people who were at Willard.  We’ll see what happens.

In the meantime, feel free to send this link around to anyone who might be interested.  And any feedback would be appreciated.

Eating in car

Posted in Automobiles, Cutlery, Food, People, Travel, Windows by joncrispin on 14/03/2011

Peter and I were once in Northampton at a stoplight and we noticed that the person driving the car next to us was eating a bowl of cereal while waiting for the light to change.  She saw us looking at her and smiled sheepishly.  /  I walked by a car recently and saw this bowl on the front seat.  Looks like they might have had some coffee too.

Clingstone story in Old House Journal

Posted in Architecture, Buildings, Construction, History, Landscape, Published work, Water by joncrispin on 07/03/2011

The Old House Journal with the Clingstone story is on the newsstands.  It is the May 2011 issue.  Click here to see the online version.  Please click on the photos to see them in a pop-out window.  And keep in mind that the volunteer weekend is coming up .  It is a blast.

Snow walk

Posted in Animals, Dogs, Family, Weather by joncrispin on 28/02/2011

It was a lovely day yesterday.  We had a heavy wet snow overnight, then the sun came out.  At about 3.00, Cris and I took the Pearl up into the woods for a walk.  Really perfect conditions for the snow shoes.  Cris has the more modern metal ones, and I have these older LL Bean jobs that my brother gave me for Christmas many years ago.  I forgot to grab a camera on the way out the door (gaiters-check, poles-check, snow shoes-check, camera-duh).  So I took this with my phone.  Pearl thought I was getting a biscuit for her, which is why she was looking up.

Day Peckinpaugh / Erie Canal

Posted in History, Landscape, People, Ships, Travel, Water by joncrispin on 22/02/2011

I was mostly crazed yesterday.  Sometime over the weekend, I either lost, misplaced, or had stolen some important mail.  I was preoccupied by it most of the day.  So much so that at about 2 o’clock I just wanted to crawl into bed and sleep.  For some reason, I decided to mess around with my web site instead.  I had been wanting to update it fore a while, especially the projects page.

Several years ago, the New York State Museum rescued the Day Peckinpaugh from imminent scrapping.  It was in Erie, PA, and by some miracle Craig Williams got a hold of it just before its demise.  Most amazing was that he found someone who had actually worked on the ship while it was still an active hauler, and who knew his way around the engines.  So they fired them up and started the journey from Erie to Waterford, NY.

The Peckinpaugh was built in 1921 and when it was retired in 1994, it was the last working freighter on the Erie Canal.  I think I remember hearing that it was hauling concrete at that time.

I got the chance to be on her for much of the trip across New York State on the canal.  It was late October / early November and the weather could not have been better.  A really interesting group of people too.


John Callaghan was the skipper, and you can see by the concentration on his face that it was an intense job for him and his crew.  The ship travelled mostly by her own power, but on occasion tug boats came in to help out.

So, at the end of the day, I still hadn’t found the mail, but at least I felt good about getting something productive done.  To see more from the trip, check out the “projects” page of my main website ( by clicking the link on the right (Jon’s main site).


Posted in People, Plants, Weather by joncrispin on 18/02/2011

Our house is surrounded by enormous white pines.  Every once in a while, during a storm one of them falls down.  Before I became a homeowner I used to love violent weather.  Wind, lightening, heavy rains…the more the better.  Waking up in the middle of the night with the wind is blowing like crazy isn’t so much fun when you are waiting to hear a loud crack and hoping that an eighty year old tree doesn’t land on your head.  When our neighbor Ken decided to have a few of the larger pines around his house taken down, it seemed like a good idea to join in.  We began talking to Leon and Shay this summer, and they encouraged us to wait until the winter to have the work done.  They showed up Wednesday morning with a giant crane, a chipper, a tractor and lots of chain saws.

These are huge trees.  I got no work done over the last two days, watching these guys work to take them down.  Shay would clip his climbing harness into the ball of the crane, be raised three quarters of the way up the tree and attach one of these yellow chains to the trunk.  He would then rappel down to about 50 feet off the ground and make a cut.  The crane would support the weight of the tree and move it over the house to the driveway where it would be dragged to the street.

It is always interesting to watch people who are very good at what they do, and who seem to have lots of fun in the process.  Shay was a rock climber when he was younger, and seems to be most comfortable flying around in the air.  The crane guy told me that of all the tree climbers he worked with, Shay was at the top of the list.

What a great bunch of guys.


Outer Stylie

Posted in Friends, Music by joncrispin on 13/02/2011

Tom Rocks!

Last night my friend Tom’s band Outer Stylie was playing at the Elevens in Northampton. (See previous Tom post of August 2010)  They came on last at about 12.30 and played a rousing set.  The lighting looked promising during the opening acts, but when Tom came on stage the sound/lighting guy must have been going for some kind of mood thing. (Dark!)  So Tom was mostly in shadow until the encore when we yelled at him to move into the light.  I was shooting with the D3S at 12,800 ISO which is hardly believable, but the results are fantastic.  It was a nice evening; had a Guinness, met Tom’s girlfriend, and at the end of the set I was introduced to Tom’s father and had the chance to tell him what a great guy his son is.

The Church of the Holy Cross

Posted in Animals, Architecture, Buildings, Construction, History, Uncategorized by joncrispin on 12/02/2011


The Church of the Holy Cross in Troy, NY was built in two stages in the 1840s.  The nave was built in 1844 from a design by Alexander Jackson Davis.  It is a very beautiful building which sadly is no longer a church.  When the congregation dropped below twenty, the writing was on the proverbial wall.  It was decommissioned (if that is the correct word) about a year ago.  RPI is in the process of purchasing the  building, which I suppose is good.  I have such mixed feelings about buildings being used for something other than their original purpose.  I am sure RPI will treat it with respect, and I hear that there are covenants in the sale agreement to protect the integrity of the building (it is on the National Register of Historic Places).  /  After Craig Williams and the Museum crew left, Fred Cawley was kind enough to give me a bit of a tour.  Craig had encouraged me to go up the bell tower, and after shooting the nave and chancel, Fred and I went through a very narrow door and made the climb.



Lots of dead pigeons on the way up, and there seemed to be lots of live ones up by the bells.



And those ones flew around like crazy when I pulled on the yellow ropes.  I really had no idea that they were connected anymore, and it was quite a surprise to hear the sound of bells above me. / I am not sure what the purpose of this box is, but it might be part of the clock mechanism.  Quite a magical morning.

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