Jon Crispin's Notebook

Willard Suitcases / Herman G

Willard Asylum Suitcases
Herman G
©2015 Jon Crispin
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Herman G was featured in the 2004 New York State Museum exhibit on the suitcases.  His story is interesting in that he was a patient at the “Craig Colony for Epileptics” before he came to Willard.  I had posted about him around the time we photographed his box of photo gear and correspondence in 2015.

Willard Asylum Suitcases
Herman G
©2015 Jon Crispin
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

I have just uploaded the complete edit.  You can see the collection here.

I’ll start work on Rodrigo L. tomorrow.  His story is amazing.  Thanks for following.

 

Leaves

Posted in autumn, Dogs, Nature, Trees, Uncategorized, walking in the woods by joncrispin on 06/10/2017

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I took a break from the computer earlier this afternoon to take Olive up into the woods.

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Somewhere deep in my memory lives the idea that I have seen something like this before.  But I find it quite amazing and wondrous that I saw two different instances of  leaves attached to what appears to be a thin strand of spider thread floating in midair and moving with the light breeze.  This made me really happy.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Willard Suitcases / Margaret D / 17 June 2015

Willard Suitcases Margaret D ©2015 Jon Crispin

I am pretty sure that this was the last day we photographed any of Margaret D’s things. It is possible that as I move through the editing process I will come across more of her possessions, but I think this is it.

Willard Suitcases Margaret D ©2015 Jon Crispin

It was a mixed bag of items that we saw on this day.

Willard Suitcases Margaret D ©2015 Jon Crispin

Here is more of her work with a needle and thread.

Willard Suitcases / Margaret D

This little button caught my eye.

Willard Suitcases  Margaret D ©2015 Jon Crispin

I did a quick internet search for “TU-TEE” and found nothing.  This almost never happens anymore.  A commercial product with an interesting concept and zilch!  “This game is something different, and enjoyed by old and young alike.  It is replacing progressive card games in many sections of the country.”  Apparently not in that many sections of the country or there would be some evidence of it.  (Edit.  As I was reading this post once it was public, I realized that the type face on the TU-TEE box looks exactly like the one I use for all of these posts.  It is Palatino, and I’ve been using it for years.  What a strange coincidence.)

Willard Suitcases  Margaret D ©2015 Jon Crispin

This cup and saucer are so delicate and lovely.

So, that’s it for Margaret.  Hers is the most complete collection of household and personal items in all of the cases that I shot, and in a funny way, it is difficult to move on to other Willard patients.  Up next though is Herman G, whose story is fascinating in its own way. Thanks for following.  You can see all of the cases here, and all of Margaret’s here.  (Don’t forget to click on the “500” button at the bottom of the page, as I think the default page only shows the first 25.  And as there are over 600 photos in her collection, you have to click on the “next” button to see the rest.)

 

Nats v Bucs

Posted in Architecture, Baseball, baseball stadiums, Jon Crispin, Sport, sports, Uncategorized by joncrispin on 28/09/2017

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A perfect late September evening for baseball.  Nats won in the bottom of the 9th on a walk-off single by Alejandro De Aza.  Thanks to Peter’s work friend Kristina for the tickets.  It was funny when we saw where we were sitting as we were in virtually the same seats for a pre-season game in 2015.  Here is a link to a post I did then.  This is a better photograph.  Thanks Kristina, and to all the folks at DHS who have been so kind, generous, and wonderful to Peter.

Great Dane

Posted in Animals, Automobiles, Dogs, driving, Jon Crispin, Uncategorized by joncrispin on 20/09/2017

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I was driving back from a shoot in the Albany area last week and as I was waiting at a light on Route 9 in Hadley I saw this guy.  He is a really beautiful dog and I think his name is Felix.  His chauffeur rolled her window down and chatted for a minute (it was a long light).  Check out the slobber on the B-Pillar.

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Vegetable Stock / Dinosaur Jr.

Posted in Music, Uncategorized by joncrispin on 10/09/2017

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Today was a good day to make a vegetable stock.  I have been saving scraps all summer and the bag in the freezer was full to bursting.  Here is some history.  It smells great and will make a nice risotto.

My friend Tom from Outer Stylie told me last week that Dinosaur Jr. would be playing an unannounced set on the Amherst Town Common today at 3.00 as a warm up for Riot Fest in Chicago.

Dinosaur Jr on the Amherst Town Common

I have been wanting to see these guys locally for a long time.  J Mascis grew up in Amherst and started the band just after high school.  I see him around town all the time riding his bike or at the coffee shop or walking his dog (this is a great video).

Dinosaur Jr on the Amherst Town Common

They are LOUD live.  They played a gig on the top floor of  Laughing Dog Bicycles once that I missed but that apparently shook the building to its foundations.

Dinosaur Jr on the Amherst Town Common

J plays these great old Fender Jazzmasters.

Dinosaur Jr on the Amherst Town Common

Lou Barlow plays his bass almost like a rhythm guitar.  Love the hair.

Dinosaur Jr on the Amherst Town Common

They were set up on the town common under some trees, and Murph’s drum kit kept moving around.  At one point his tom fell over and this symbol lost its footing.  Some guy came up from the crowd and reset it for him.

It was particularly exciting to see a band that is so seminal in rock and really quite famous setting up in the middle of town and playing a set for anyone who happened by.  It is nice to be reminded that well known, creative people live lives very much like the rest of us.  They live in towns, they have families and friends, and occasionally they play a very loud set on the Amherst  Town Common. I wonder what the folks staying at the Lord Jeffrey Inn thought.

 

Anna Lucille Earley, Willard Nurse

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

I got a call a few weeks ago from Craig Williams telling me that a trunk had been discovered in the attic of the Covert Funeral Home in Ovid, NY that belonged to a woman who was a nurse at Willard in the early part of the 20th Century.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

At that time Craig wasn’t too sure of many of the details but thought I might be interested if anything came of it.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

Craig has been working at the Romulus Historical Society with Peggy Ellsworth who worked at Willard and has been a great friend to the suitcases project.  Peg has been the go-to person for all things Willard since the institution closed in 1995.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

Last Friday Paul McPherson who is the current director of the funeral home brought the trunk to the historical society for Craig and Peg to have a look.  They were really enthused and Craig called to see if I could take a few photos as he unpacked the items and started to conserve and catalogue the collection.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

The contents of the trunk are in great shape, and it is amazing to see how well preserved the items are.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

I love seeing these old commercial products in their early packaging.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

There were several mounted photographs in the trunk, as well as this envelope which contain a large number of photographic negatives.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

Craig scanned a few and the quality is amazing.

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The Willard baseball team was almost certainly made up of staff, and not patients.  But one has to wonder if any of the patients ever made it onto the diamond.

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I think this scan was from a print.  In addition to having worked at Willard as a nurse, she was a graduate of the institution’s school of nursing.  Craig and Peg are looking at the images to try to figure out which one in the photos is Anna.  None are identified on the back, so it might be quite a job.

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The above photo is especially exciting, as the building in the background is the sheltered workshop where the suitcases were stored in the attic and were rediscovered in 1995.  The collection of cases dates from 1910 to 1965 and Anna was at Willard starting in the late teens, so it is very likely that she worked with some of the owners.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

As we found in many of the suitcases there is a broad range of items in Anna’s trunk; she had saved things that can tell a fairly complete story of her life, and more broadly, what life at Willard was like in the 1920s.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

This box contains a lot of personal correspondence, including some very interesting postcards.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

It took a minute to figure out this one.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

It became clear once we saw the “soldier’s mail” postmark.  Let’s hope H. C. Norris made it through the war safely.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

As a nurse at Willard, she would have lived on the grounds and received her mail there.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

This inscription is especially touching and a bit mysterious.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

Craig and I didn’t have much time to go through the notebooks, but this is a huge trove of original source material that will be interesting to study once everything is catalogued.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

Perhaps the most intriguing is this small diary from 1918 which contains day to day accounts of Anna’s life at Willard.  To the left is a playbill for “Farmer’s Daughter” which played at Hadley Hall on the Willard grounds.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

Anna’s Student’s Note Book is pretty interesting.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

Her hand writing is very readable.   I didn’t see any crossed out sections as I flipped through the pages.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

This small brooch is pretty.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

The trunk itself is is great shape.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

Anna is buried in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Ovid.  Craig took this photo of her gravestone.

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The Romulus Historical Society will be putting an exhibit together of the trunk and contents sometime soon.  The museum is located in the town of Willard and is only open until the end of September.  It is not clear if anything will happen before then, but Peggy is eager for the collection to see the light of day.  I’ll update here when I know details.  There is obviously a ton of work to be done researching Anna’s life, but this is really an amazing find.

Special thanks go to Paul McPherson for contacting the historical society with this incredible look into the life of Anna.  A find like this really brings history alive.  It will be interesting to see what develops once everything is conserved and catalogued.  And as always thanks to Peggy Ellsworth for her tireless work in remembering the patients and staff at Willard, and to Craig Williams for keeping me in the loop.

 

 

Willard Suitcases / Margaret D / 14 April 2015

Willard Suitcases 
Margaret D.
©2015 Jon Crispin

I am working my way through Margaret’s cases and her collection never ceases to amaze me.  You can see the latest here. (Don’t forget to click “view all” as there are now close to 500 images in her collection.)

Willard Suitcases 
Margaret D.
©2015 Jon Crispin

Margaret brought quite a number of sewing items with her when she came to Willard, including the above stencil with Masonic designs.

Willard Suitcases 
Margaret D.
©2015 Jon Crispin

I am currently editing a shoot that was mostly delicate items like the above undergarment, as well as some of her nursing uniforms.  I’ll have a post up sometime in the next few days with those photos.

I would also mention that Margaret was one of the 10 folks originally featured in the State Museum’s 2004 exhibit.  The made-up surname they used for her was Dunleavy and if you do a search for her name and Willard you should come across very detailed information about her life.  The “Lives They Left Behind” book has a surprisingly complete history of her life before Willard.

I am often asked about how much I know about the patient’s lives before and during their time at the institution.  It is way too complex for me to elaborate here, but needless to say, I have very strong feelings about my need to separate the patient’s clinical lives from what we can learn about them through their possessions.  I tend to talk about it when I present the project to various groups, so maybe one day we will get the chance to meet up and chat.  Thanks for following.

Eclipse 2017

Posted in Jon Crispin, Science, Uncategorized by joncrispin on 21/08/2017

One day as Peg and I were shooting the suitcases I began to feel that one of my strobes was misfiring.  They are very bright and it was impossible to look into it and see if one of the flash tubes was intermittent or not.  Peg said that she thought that she had just the trick to be able to look at it when it was firing.  On our next shoot, she showed up with these and they worked a treat.  I stuck them back in my camera case and only remembered earlier today that I still had them.

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We might have been the only people in the States with  glasses from l’Eclipse du 11 août 1999.    I love the look of happiness on Cristine’s face.

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Protégez-vous les yeux indeed!  Thanks Peg!

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This kid was the best though.  A “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” t-shirt and a welder’s mask.  He came prepared.

Willard Suitcases / Margaret D / 17 March 2015

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Another large batch of Margaret D photos are now up on the suitcases site.

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As mentioned before, Margaret came to Willard with her car as well as all the paperwork from the purchase.

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She bought a brand new 1934 6 cylinder Dodge Coupe.  Such a beautiful automobile.

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She was a great traveler and planned her trips meticulously.

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This one looks like it would be a fun drive.

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This was the only will that we came across in the collection.

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The above list is interesting as it appears that she wrote down her work history most likely in preparation for applying for a job.  It is one of the clearest documents showing the specifics of a life before Willard.

More to come from Margaret later in the week.  Cheers everyone.

 

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