Jon Crispin's Notebook

Willard Suitcases / Joseph A #3

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It took a while, but I finally finished editing Joseph’s two trunks.  Peg and I worked on them on two different days, three weeks apart and the photos did not end up in a logical sequence.  It took me a while to organize them for the suitcases site.

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Setting up and shooting cases containing lots of clothes presented challenges.  We always strove to make the arrangements look natural, but I in particular dreaded the days where all we had to work with was clothing.

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Another shout out to Peggy Ross here.  The museum had individually conserved each item and assigned it a unique catalogue number.  In instances of larger collections like Joseph’s, the items were stored not in the cases themselves, but in archival museum boxes.  Peg was instrumental in helping with the setup by unwrapping each piece and making notes about the box from which the items came, then helping me lay them out.

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I would then make a number of wide shots, and finally move in for the details.  Once the arrangement was in place, I rarely if ever moved the objects around.  I’m not sure why, but it was important to me to maintain the integrity of the original setup.  Once I finished shooting, Peg would rewrap each item in the original conservation material and return it back into the museum storage boxes.  In retrospect it is not surprising that it took  us over five years to shoot all the cases, and that it is taking me another two years to edit everything.  I am making great progress though.

I would also mention that the clothing photographs are now among my favorites.

Thanks for following.  If you want to see all of the photos from Joseph’s cases, click this link.  Don’t forget to click on the “view all” button.  The default setting only shows the first 25 images.

 

Willard Suitcases / Joseph A’s Wife

In yesterday’s post I mentioned that Joseph had two trunks in the collection and that one of them contained his wife’s clothes.

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An aspect of this project that I find most interesting is to do with questions that arise from looking at the possessions of the patients.  We know from yesterday’s post that Joseph’s trunks arrived more than a year after he was admitted.  The fact that so much of his wife’s clothing was sent to him makes me wonder if she was alive for part of that year, or if she had died before August of 1945 when he was admitted.  Did her death have something to do with his troubles?  Who sent the trunks to Willard over a year after he became a patient?

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There are, of course, answers to most of these questions.  They are in the patient records that are housed in the New York State Archives.  Due to state law and the policies of the State Office of Mental Health, almost no one (including the descendants of Willard patients) has access to these documents.

Early on in the project, I came to realize that my photographs could encourage viewers to think about the residents of Willard in a manner that went beyond their diagnoses.  In most ways, the official records are not relevant to my feelings about the 400+ people whose cases are in the collection.  As I continue to edit the images, my connection to the patients and staff at Willard continues to grow.

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Peg Ross and I came across numerous small doggies as we were shooting the suitcases.  This one is particularly cute.

I’ll have more to post tomorrow.  Cheers all.

Willard Suitcases / Joseph A

This week I have begun editing Joseph A’s two trunks.  I expect it will take quite a while to get through all the photographs, as one trunk contains a ton of his clothing and the other is full of his wife’s possessions. I hope to post daily as I work through the collection.

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I don’t believe I have posted an inventory before.  This one appears to have been put together by Willard employee M. McCarry; you can see her name on the bottom right.  Joseph was admitted in August of 1945, but it seems his trunks did not arrive at Willard until April of 1946.  Some of the annotations are interesting, especially the notes that indicate that some of the clothing was with him on the ward.

I won’t be uploading the entire collection for several days, but will hope to post a few photos from it daily.  Thanks for following.

Nixon Library

Posted in History, Jon Crispin, museums, Uncategorized by joncrispin on 27/06/2017

The Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Birthplace in Yorba Linda, CA opened shortly after Cris and I got together.  Her mom, Dorothy Smith, was one of the early employees and worked at the ticket desk and on occasion, the gift shop.  (We have an amazing set of Camp David whiskey glasses thanks to her.)

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 We hadn’t visited in over 20 years and thought it might be time to check it out again.  (And it is not too far from the In-N-Out in Fullerton.)  My memories of it were quite positive, as I thought it told Nixon’s story in an objective and realistic manner.

The hallway above leads to a reproduction of the East Room where he gave his farewell speech to his staff.

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The exhibits provide a good sense of context about what was going on in the sixties.

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Here he is in all his glory.  This is such an iconic photograph.  I always thought that the “Nixon’s The One” slogan left a lot of room for ambiguity.  I like how LBJ appears to be  giving him the hairy eyeball in this shot.

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Great examples of Nixon election ephemera are spread throughout the museum.  What is up with the “Protest! and Win! with Nixon”?

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Here I am sitting at a recreation of Nixon’s desk in the fake oval office.  This is kind of funny for me.  My childhood friend Mike Hogan’s uncle, Vice Admiral Robert Bruce Brown was the Surgeon General of the Navy and lived at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda.  Mike and I used to visit in the summer and Admiral Brown once took us to the White House for a tour.  One of his best friends was LBJ’s physician and we got the whole behind the scene look.  LBJ was out of town, but we saw his beagles Him and Her.  Later, as we walked past the Oval Office we were asked if we wanted to sit at the desk, which of course we did.  Still wish I had photographic evidence of that occasion.

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Here are some more great buttons.  Right on, Mister President!

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An entire section of the museum is dedicated to the Viet Nam war.

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Including a giant pile of correspondence from people both opposed to, and in favor of the war.

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Here’s the Colt .45 that Elvis gave to Nixon.  There is an amazing and totally bizarre story behind this gift.  Totally Elvis!

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These fake balloons are meant to be from the convention after he accepted the nomination (for the second time, I think).

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I had completely forgotten what a total ass kicking McGovern got in 1972.  This map pretty much says it all.  I was so bummed on election night after having driven from Springfield, Ohio to Meadville just to vote for George.  I am pretty sure I got totally wasted that night.

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But then came Watergate.  I wonder if the White House phone number is still 202 456 1414.  I like the special buttons for Chapin, Haldeman, and Rosemary Woods.  “Hey Rosemary, can you erase some of that tape for me?”

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“Sure Mr. President, no problemo”

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And let’s throw in some dirty tricks too!

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There are some very good recordings of the taping system for all to hear.  And if you are a researcher, the library component of the facility has the entire collection.  Amazing.

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There is something about this photo of Bork.  It reminds me of a promotional still from a bad 1970s era TV show.  After both Richardson and Ruckelshaus resigned instead of carrying out the order to fire Cox, Bork carried it out.  I think it must be one reason the long knives came out when he was nominated to the Supreme Court.  The political world hasn’t really been the same since.

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There are a few more cool exhibits toward the end of the walk-through.  Here is Cris hangin’ with Pat and Dick at the Rose Parade.

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I like this life size cutout in front of the door of his first law firm.

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The gardens are really beautiful.  Off in the distance is the house where Nixon and his brothers were born.  When Cris and I were first together in Placentia, we used to drive over to see it before the site became a museum.  It was then occupied by the custodian of the elementary school (now gone) where Cris got her polio vaccine sugar cube. It had a sign on it that said “Private Residence”.  It is amazing that most of the furniture inside now is original to the family and to the house.

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You can also go into the actual helicopter that flew him from the White House lawn when he resigned, although it was closed when we were there due to the heat.

  Thanks for following, and making it to the end of this long post.  More suitcases soon.

Baseball / A Different Huntington

Posted in Baseball, Beaches, Jon Crispin, Nature, ocean, stadiums, Uncategorized, waves by joncrispin on 19/06/2017

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Something is going on out on the mound.  The Angels lost to Kansas City yesterday, but it was a nice day for baseball.

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It seems my two current favorite places in Southern California have Huntington in their names.  This is the pier at Huntington Beach.  It was just past noon today when I took this, and the morning haze had not yet burned off.  A lovely, cool day to walk on the beach.

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Posted in Art, Fish, Jon Crispin, museums, Trees, Uncategorized by joncrispin on 17/06/2017

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I was back at The Huntington yesterday for my annual visit to the Blue Boy.  It is breathtaking.  It’s quite impossible to look at a reproduction and get any sense of just how amazing this painting is in person.

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At the opposite end of the gallery is this painting by Thomas Lawrence which is commonly referred to as “Pinkie”.  I had never really paid much attention to her, but it is pretty easy to get lost in gazing at it.

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It was very hot yesterday so I didn’t walk around the gardens for long.  There are lots of ginkgo trees on the grounds.  I grew up with one in my side yard in Meadville and clearly remember climbing it as a boy.  It was the only one I ever saw as a kid, and is still my favorite tree.

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As I walked over a little bridge in the Japanese garden, these guys showed up thinking I might feed them.  Sorry I couldn’t oblige.

Pink Lady Slipper / Update

Posted in Jon Crispin, Orchids, Plants, Uncategorized by joncrispin on 09/06/2017

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The pink lady slipper presence in the woods beside our house is very slim this year. I could only find 6 or 7, whereas in previous years there have been hundreds.  I’m glad a few were waiting on our return from Nepal.

I was given good news from my local ophthalmologist on Tuesday.  Dr Pratap’s work was successful; both tears are fixed and the floaters are beginning to resolve.  Thanks to those of you who reached out with your sympathy and concern.

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend.

NAMI Waco Talk

Posted in Jon Crispin, Mental Health, mental illness, Uncategorized, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 18/05/2017

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I had the chance to walk around Waco a bit this morning before I started working on tonight’s talk.

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There was a public ceremony today in the park across from my hotel memorializing fallen police officers.  I am always drawn to a crowd (which were behind me when I took this photo).

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I learned that Dr Pepper was invented in Waco, and the amazing Cynthia Cunningham from NAMI Waco gave me a bag with some gifts, including these two bottles of Dr Pepper (made with real cane sugar!).  I am drinking one now and it is wonderful.

 My talk tonight went pretty well; I was nervous at first, but seemed to do ok.  I’d give myself a B, but I am still learning.  Lots of folks came up to me afterwards and were so nice and complimentary.  If you are looking to do a bit of good in this world, send NAMI Waco some money through their site, or if you live in an area with a local NAMI group, think about volunteering.  They are doing amazing and important work.  /  I also met some great folks from the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute.  Coby Chase was familiar with the suitcases project and drove up from Austin where he works lobbying the state on mental health issues. He mentioned their site okaytosay.org which is really interesting and inspiring.  So much of the work NAMI, Meadows, and like minded organizations do is related to reducing the stigma of mental illness.  I am so grateful to Cynthia for connecting the suitcases to her work, and for giving me the chance to meet so many wonderful people who work so hard to improve the lives of families who struggle with mental health issues .

That’s it for tonight.  Back home tomorrow.  Thanks, as usual, for following.

Willard Suitcases / Chapin House / NAMI Waco

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I took this photo in the early 1980s at the very beginning of my connection with Willard.  It is still one of my favorites from the “Silent Voices” project.

Here are a few shots from my recent uploads to the suitcases site.

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I’m not exactly sure what the white fabric object is in Kenneth Q’s case, but it is interesting.  The orange toothbursh is kind of nice.

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Elizabeth C’s dress is so beautiful.

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The cotton fabric is soft and wonderful.

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There are 3 different places on the above photograph where I had to obscure Amelia’s surname, and it still makes me sad every time I have to do so.  The Office of Mental Health pr guy told me a few years ago that it was necessary due to the stigma of mental illness.  It is precisely that attitude that prolongs that stigma; the Willard patients deserve to be recognized as being more than just patients at a New York State asylum.

On Wednesday, I fly to Texas to present the suitcases project at a dinner sponsored by NAMI Waco.  Here is a link to the event.  If you are in the area, it would be great to see you and make a connection.

Thanks for following.

Tom

Posted in Friends, Jon Crispin, People, Uncategorized by joncrispin on 08/05/2017

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I am sitting in a local coffee shop working on email and while looking out the window to see how much time I have left on my parking meter, I noticed my pal Tom Schack making a radical 5 point turn in the middle of Amity Street.  I grabbed my camera and took a quick photo before he went into the bank.  That is the Outer Stylie van in the background.

Have a great week, everyone.

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