I was born in Princeton West Virginia. I lived in Bluefield till I was seven. My Grandparents had land there. My father built a house that was 1000 feet from theirs. My mother was from South Phila, and so when they split we moved back to Phila and eventually New Jersey. In 1963 we moved back to West Virginia. I was nine. My parents weren’t getting back together or anything, it was my older brother that wanted to be closer to Dad. My younger brother and I didn’t care one way or the other. Dad was strict with us. Unecessarily so. Anyway, we lived close to a cemetery, and there was little church. Kinda clapboard, not fancy, but clean. I used to ride my bike all around, and every now and then in the early evening I would hear singing and foot stomping and a real commotion going on. I would sit outside and listen, but I never had the courage to go in. I asked my mom what is was about? She told me they were “Holy Rollers” Those words Holy Rollers made my imagination run. It sounded exciting. Now, my inside clock did not start ticking towards the alarm bell of what are you going to do with your life until I was about 19. I was working in a machine shop, at the dishwasher stage of that vocation, before I discovered photography. It was at the machine shop too. Jim Stanton, a fellow employee sold me his 35mm Yashica camera. My jobs were to cut steel on a band saw, mill steel on a bridgeport, prep and paint the machinery, and overall lackey. Cutting steel is pretty boring. You just measure the length of steel, vice it in, and the weight of the band chews through the steel. I would read photo books in between the cuts. One of the first ones I read was Andrea Feininger’s The Complete Photographer. I still remember it. I eventually quit that job and decided I was going to be a photographer. There’s a little more to it than that, but the point is by then I was struggling to figure out what I was going to do with my life. I had no control over that internal clock. Maybe it is similar to the biological clock that ticks for a woman to become a mother. If that makes sense? Not every soul has it either. I have always been a frustrated musician. I could never spend the time it requires to get good with the violin or the viola. I have music in me, but I can’t get it out. What if my internal clock had started at age eight or nine. Maybe I wouldn’t have been as shy, or afraid to open the door to that church. My life would have been completely different. I would have been introduced to live music, musicians, and singing while still in my single digits. Who knows I might have been a cracker Michael Jackson.
Please Don't Confront Me With My Failures, I’ve Not Forgotten Them
Thank you all for wishing me a happy birthday. At 68 it’s not the celebratory event it was when you got a cake with candles and cards with money in them. These days I am keenly aware of things I get wrong or right in a day. I am a mechanical person. I can take things apart, and fix them most of the time. Out here, you kinda have to be. If you need a plumber, the best ones are busy, and expensive. The others are inferior, busy and expensive. Plus there are not pages of them in the phone book. It’s John or Joe or do it yourself. Marci and I ran a sewer line from our house to the alley to get our house off the septic system. It wasn’t difficult and we were proud of the accomplishment.
I used to pride myself on these abilities. I’ve made plenty of mistakes, and had plenty of failures. It just seems like these days even simple things are harder to accomplish. I was trying to put string on the weed whacker the other day, and took me forever, and was so frustrating. It’s not the big things you attempt and mess up, say like overhauling an engine, but the small things like adjusting the hinges on a door, and having the door fall off and ruin the hinge. Or as simple as hanging clothes on a line and not having any part touch the dirt ground. I went to dinner with Betty and Elise the other day, and when I got home I realized I had put on two different shoes. They are exactly the same color, and I grabbed the the right of one and the left of the other. I didn’t even notice when I put them on. Lucille French Clark, was my landlady and friend. She was THE French Company, originally. She was 88 when I met her. Small and frail, her fingers bent up with arthritis, she told me that the hardest thing about aging was not being able to do things for your self. She had a two story house, and had not been upstairs in several years. She asked me to go up and look around. Of course unless you have some kind of disease or traumatic event that prevents you from doing things then it’s losing your abilities by a 1000 paper cuts. And I just want to say these are just personal observations, and I am very fortunate. I am healthy and happy, and lucky, and I know there are people with much worse problems. These are just aging man blues. Big Hugs.
Happy Full Moon. Get Outside.