I've sworn off Facebook, at least temporarily, which frees up some time for doing something constructive, like resurrecting my blogs. In connection with the publication of my photographic portfolio "Revolution," I've written an essay about the optician-photographer Ralph Eugene Meatyard for the blog of F-Stop Magazine.
In my last post, I enumerated the contents of my father's wallet when he died in 1989. The Social Security card he was carrying at the time was printed in 1961 or later, so I inferred it was a replacement. Now I've located the original. It was in with a package labeled "My Senior Days" produced by the Camp Publishing Company of Ypsilanti, Michigan.
Inside the paper sleeve was a booklet that included a class picture of Milford's 1937 graduates...
and Dad's senior portrait.
There were some snapshots stuck in the booklet, including this one of Dad in cap and gown, posing by what we called the brick building, as it was the only brick structure on my grandparents' farm. I remember it as the place they kept their large deep freeze. I also recall an old radio that was stored in there which would no doubt be quite a collector's item if it still existed.
A program from the 1937 Milford High commencement was also stuck in there. The graduation occurred on April 30, quite early in the year by current standards.
Grandpa Cory gave the invocation.
Some of Dad's report cards were also stuck in the booklet. I won't scan those. Suffice it to say that he got a few A's in music and manual training (shop class). If you knew him, that shouldn't be surprising. I still have a bed he built in manual training class stored in the basement. He was a very smart guy, but I don't think he found school that interesting, and therefore didn't work very hard to get good grades.
But, as usual, I digress. Here is his original Social Security card.
It was never detached from the stub upon which is typed the name of his employer, Mogul Rubber Corporation in Goshen, Indiana, and his home address. Note the card was issued a week after his high school graduation. Nineteen thirty seven was the first year for Social Security.
So I guess he never bothered to carry his card with him. At some point in 1961 or later, he must have needed to have the card. By that time, I'm sure he forgot he had stuck it in with his graduation memorabilia and had to request a replacement.
Life is full of surprises. As a consequence of inheriting the family farmland, I am about to be the recipient of a settlement in a class action lawsuit. In the 1980s, various telecommunications companies started laying fiber-optic cable along railroad rights of way. Apparently, some clever lawyers figured out that the companies laying the cable should have gotten permission from landowners along the railroads. As luck would have it, CSX (formerly B&O) tracks run along the north border of our farm. Now that the case has been settled, I'm eligible to get a few hundred bucks. The catch is I have to provide documentation of ownership of the land, which I inherited from Mom in 1995, as well my parents' ownership of the land before that.
Digging through records in the basement, I was able to locate a copy of the deed recorded when my parents bought the property in 1953.
I also found the contents of my father's wallet, which were in an envelope with his estate papers. The wallet itself, and any cash that may have been in there when he died on October 5, 1989, were not in the envelope. What I found were the plastic inserts containing cards, photos, and so forth.
He carried school pictures of his grandchildren, and my mom, taken when she was a cook at the school.
He was a long-time State Farm customer, as am I, and he carried insurance cards for the cars he kept running against all odds--a '69 VW Fastback and a '78 VW Rabbit.
On a small slip of paper, he wrote reminders, some of which are obvious, like the church tax number (I think he was treasurer of the men's group at some point) and our zip code. I'm guessing the slip of paper dates back to the sixties, when zip codes were introduced. Other numbers are more cryptic:
E 28 38 24
W 17 27 5
N 10 16 26
S 22 8 2
His Medicare Card was activated on 4-1-84.
His blood donor card showed he was Type O, and recorded only two donations, on 12-4-53 and 8-31-60.
He graduated high school in 1937, the same year Social Security taxes began, but the card in his wallet was printed sometime in 1961 or later, so it was probably a replacement.
He carried a discount card for Perry Drug Stores, which have since been acquired by Rite Aid.
Neither of my parents carried credit or debit cards. The only plastic card Dad carried was his driver's license. It reminds me of a poignant moment when I was riding with him at night and it became obvious that he couldn't see the road. He had become diabetic in middle age, and the disease was taking a toll on his vision in his sixties. I had to ask him to pull over and let me drive, and it wasn't an easy thing to do.
"Pipe-cleaner Flower Arrangement in Gallon Jug, Tule Lake, California 1" by
Gentle readers, after an absence of lo these many months, I feel it necessary to delve once again into the subject of fine art photography. As usual, I have no right to pontificate on this subject, save for the fact that I have spent some minutes Googling the California-based photographer Hiroshi Watanabe.
Do not be deceived. The urge to inform you about this talented photographer does not derive solely from the fact that I know how to spell Hiroshi, a skill I acquired when I became fascinated by the work of another genius of the photographic medium, Hiroshi Sugimoto.
I believe I first heard about Mr. Watanabe from a podcast by Martin Bailey. After Mr. Watanabe's name rattled around the dank recesses of what remains of my mind for several months, the time for further research had arrived.
When the name of Hiroshi Watanabe bubbled up from my subconscious, I went to his very impressive web site. Among the many galleries of his brilliant work on display there, I was particularly taken with the portfolio titled "Artifacts - Things from Japanese Internment Camps." The photos are of items Mr. Watanabe found at the Japanese American Museum in San Jose, California, and at a dump site from a California internment camp where Japanese Americans were detained during WW II.
I believe the photo above, of a flower arrangement inside a gallon jug, made from pipe cleaners by a resident of the camp, and subsequently left in the dump when the detainees were released, is one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful images I have ever seen.
A couple of years ago, I attended a photography workshop in Chicago. The instructor was really big on photographing strangers. He felt it was important for photographers, who tend to be introverts, to overcome their shyness and photograph strangers. Inspired, I set off for the local farmers' market the following weekend to photograph people. The first vendor I asked was very nice and cooperated willingly. The second one was a very interesting looking character who may have had a police record. In any case, he flatly refused to let me take his photo. This took considerable wind out of my sails, and I packed up my camera and went home.
As I look through my Flickr photostream of some 2600 pictures, I can find six photos where I had some level of consent from a stranger before clicking the shutter. It may have just been holding up the camera and getting a nod, or actually asking to take a picture. Two of these photos were of the same guy feeding pigeons in Daley Plaza in Chicago. I have taken a few other street photos without the subjects' knowledge. I hope in the future to include more people in my photography, as I think it adds an element of interest beyond that provided by inanimate objects or flora and fauna.