Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Halloween at the Nursing Home

It was the late 1960's and I was the photographer for The North Dade Journal, a twice a week local paper owned by The Miami Herald. We covered the political scene for half a dozen small municipalities, carried lots of advertizing, and ran just enough stuff of general interest so people would read it. We were always getting calls from various organizations and companies to cover their events. The woman who handled public relations for Arch Creek Nursing Home called to tell us about their upcoming Halloween party.

The editor told me to go over there and get some photos of the afternoon festivities. I was greeted by the P.R. directer as things were getting under way. Staff was busy helping the residents get into costumes, putting make-up on them, stringing crepe paper ribbons all over the place. A table overflowed with munchies and a huge bowl of punch. It was obvious from the beginning that the staff was fighting a losing battle. People more interested in watching their afternoon soaps, reading the paper or a book, or perhaps just dozing in the sun were being forced to "have fun". It showed on their faces!

I shot a few pictures of the sort that I'm sure would have passed muster with the P.R. directer, then exposed a few rolls showing the reality, as I saw it. I got back to the office and soon put some contact sheets on the editors's desk. He was ecstatic! His red crayon quickly circled about 8 or 9 photos and the next day we ran with a full page of pictures of the Big Halloween Party. We never got another call from the nursing home to cover an event. This was always my favorite shot of the party. Their expressions tell it all.

I was having fun in those days, and as usual not quite aware of the impact my photos might have had in a larger ciculation newspaper. But it was still the old Miami, we were too settled in, and wrapped up in our work to think these shots might have mattered to someone outside of ourselves, or have been noticed by a national publication. The editor and I worked well together, but we were probably Miami's biggest secret as far as our talents went.


Anonymous Duane Hartse said...

Mr. Kaplan, a blog really suits you so well. Your pictures are good, but the stories that you write with them--putting the photos in context--just seems to add so much. I hope you do come out someday with a book like this that combines your pictures with your storytelling--it's a fantastic combination. I found your blog quite by accident, even though I became aware of you at photo.net. (You were actually one of the reasons I became a subscriber there. Don't know that I'll renew when my subscription lapses, though, because I'm disenchanted with all the mean-spirited sniping that goes on there.) You should really put some links to here from either there or from your home page, so that others like myself find you here.

11:47 AM  
Anonymous benson said...

I found your blog quite by accident, even though I became aware of you at photo.net. (You were actually one of the reasons I became a subscriber there

1:24 AM  

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