Friday, June 30, 2006

Painted White ~ Welcome To Klan Country

Memories fade and Ektachromes fade but sometimes we need to be reminded of the way things were a just a couple of generations ago. In case you can't easily read the sign it says:




That billboard even had lights so you could read it at night. It was located on this run down tobacco farm along U.S. Route 301, which was later replaced by I-95 which followed essentially the same route but bypassed (and mostly killed off) all the small towns along the way. I guess it was in the late 1960's when I shot this photo. Gas stations and restaurants had seperate "White" and "Colored" bathrooms, and blacks could only buy take-out unless they were lucky enought to drive through a town with the colored section on the highway that had a colored restaurant. There weren't many of those.

What I liked about my trips through North Carolina was the price of cigarettes. North Carolina didn't have a state tax on tobacco products. $1.85 a carton was 50 cents cheaper than Florida or Massachusettes. In an era when you could buy a decent sit down lunch for under a buck and a motel was maybe $8 a night you could cover your trip expenses by bootlegging a trunk load of smokes. Everybody did it.

The sad thing is that there are still people who'd like to erect signs like this along the Interstate. The Klan still lives!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

A few questions for you. I need some feedback.

This blog has been going for about half a year now, with a new posting every day. It startedoff as a way to present my photographs and give some background as to who, what, where, when and why, along with a bit of information on how it was done and what equipment and film I was using. It includes B&W and color photos spanning over four decades. Some were shot on assignment, others for fun. Do you have any thoughts on what you'd like to see here in the future? Let me know. Please Email me: preacherpop42 (at) aol (dot) com

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Well, It's CALLED Fishing...

It was the summer of 1973 and we were doing our grand tour of the American West. We stayed with the Kehrwalds when we were in Sheridan, Wyoming. Dick had a photo studio there, and was friends with a photographer that I knew from Miami. Like myself, Dick Kehrwald loved to fish. We fished in a nearby lake and tried a few streams that were full of spring run-off from the nearby Bighorn Mountains. We timed it perfectly. Everyplace we tried the fish refused to cooperate. Here Dick is trying to entice a trout to bite in one of the streams. We didn't experience any decent fishing until we got back to Florida, but it was still a fun trip.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Fencing With The High And The Mighty - Still Unresolved

I had been hoping to get this whole thing resolved today once and for all. The city councilman who has been working with me on the problem was out of town for a week, and just got back late today. If I can't get a final resolution and some answers to some questions within a few days I'll just write what I can and accuse those that look guilty under the circumstances. It's not a pretty picture. I'm just sick and tired of having a neighbor gloating about what he can get away with, getting pissed at me for reporting his violations to the city, cursing me out at the top of his lungs in Spanish, scaring the crap out of my girlfriend...the list goes on. Stay tuned.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Elena Kaplan ~ Politics In Her Blood

When my daughter Elena was young she always wanted to go everyplace with me. She never called me "Father", nor would she use the familiar "Al" like my friends did. To her I was always "Alan".

One day when she was about 5 or 6 President Jimmy Carter was speaking here in North Miami at the community center, and Elena went with me. I remember that the Secret Service guys really examined one of my Leica bodies that was equipped with a Visoflex II reflex housing and a big fat 150mm f/2.3 Astro Pan Tachar lens. I guess that if it didn't look like a Nikon F it MUST be a weapon. Anyway, after removing the lens from the Visoflex and letting them look through it, they let me use it.

Motion picture lenses, like the Astro Pan Tachar, have the smoothest bokeh, so a cut from using one lens to another is less jarring on screen. The shot of Carter was with that lens. Out of focus in the background is Mayor Howard Neu. The shot of Elena was from her campagn website when she ran for district 58 in the Georgia House of Representatives. I have no idea who shot it bu I like the photo.

After Carter finished speaking he posed for the typical shaking hands shots with about anybody who wanted to, but this was a few years before I decided that I may as well get a shot with me too. One person Carter did want to get a shot with was Elena. He got down on one knee and beckoned her to come sit on his other knee. She had a thing about grey haired older men. She didn't want anything to do with them. She was truely terrified! Try as we might we couldn't convince her to dry her tears and sit on Carter's knee. Here we are 30 years later and I bet she'd just love to have had a picture of Jimmy Carter and herself for her brochures and website in her run for a seat in the Georgia House of Representatives.

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Sunday, June 25, 2006

Corrupt Code Enforcement? North Miami Might Have A Problem

Selective code enforcement can be a problem. It causes everybody to lose respect for the process. North Miami sure seems to be having this problem. Try to do something about it and you can end up looking like this:

...and then the police dept. won't do squat because "We have to witness the incident".

I'll write more and in greater detail a bit later.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

How Long Is She Now?

It was thirty-five years ago this month that my daughter Elena was born. Dr. Ben Abrams was her pediatrician, and during her first year every few weeks we'd bring her in for a check-up where she was weighed and measured. she was a bit over seven pounds at birth and had a large head, a possible sign of problems. We assured the doctors that large heads ran in the Kaplan family and she turned out just fine. Each visit showed a gain in both weight and length and overall she was a pretty healthy baby. I guess I shot this on High Speed Ektachrome with an FLD filter to correct for the flourescent lighting using a Leica M4 with a 35/2 Summicron.

Five years later when our son Jonathan was born it was natural childbirth, I was there in the delivery room, and I shot the whole birth in B&W using a pair of Leicas. Jonathan weighd over ten pounds and had an even bigger head!

Elena is now a tax attorney in Atlanta, Jonathan's wife Deborah is expecting a little girl in September, and the cycle continues.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Jai-alai Player

Dick Herbst and I had been good friends for a few years, and we'd worked together at a few publications, when he called me up to see if I was game for a new venture. The Miami Jai-alai Fronton was often used off season for rock concerts, and I guess that's how Dick made the contact. He wanted to put together an ad campaign using stroboscopic photos of a player in action at a time when just the stroboscope itself was was state of the art high-tech and Dr. Edgerton's invention had been used for little beyond showing a golfer's swing in action. Nothing on this scale!

We found a place in North Miami that would rent us a unit that had enough output, likely the only one that big south of Atlanta, bought some gaffer tape and a bolt of cheap black cotton fabric, then off to the fronton. The fronton had ladders. It took us a couple of hours to cover the floor and back wall up to about 15 feet with the black cloth. I set up a second ordinary flash on a light stand. I think that was my 100 watt second Minicam EF-100. The rented unit could put out about 30 watt seconds per flash, but only if it wasn't really cranking them out.

The tripod mounted Leica M4 had a 35mm Summicron lens set at about f/8, and it was equipped with a long cable release. It was nearly pitch black in the fronton. The idea was the player would run, leap swinging his cesta, and Dick would turn the stroboscope on and off when the player passed certain marks. I'd open and close the shutter, and manually trip the other flash at the peak of the leap. I don't thnk we made more than ten or twelve exposures in total. Pictures based on that sessions were used in ads and on billboards, and graced the sides of buses for several years. Dick and I always thought that we'd been grossly underpaid, considering all the mileage that they got out of those photos.

This print shows "silvering" along the edges, either from not being archivally processed, mounted on an acidic mounting board, or possibly being stored unprotected in a leather case all these years. Todd Frederick "corrected" the scan in Photoshop to look like a nice new B&W silver gelatin print, but I decided to run it the way it really looks after all these years, just a bit sepia with the bluish silvering.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Strangeness of Light

Lenses do strange things with bright lights. The reflections bounce around inside, reflected from one shiny glass surface to another. Today's modern multi-coated optics don't do it as much, but it still happens. When I shot this about thirty-five years ago very few lenses were multi-coated, and this one wasn't. This was shot in Harper's Ferry, West Virginia one summer when we were visiting my wife's relatives in nearby Washington, D.C.

I remember that there was a lot of smokey haze in the air, giving everything a golden glow as sunset approached. I don't remember which building this was or what lens I was using. I only know that it was shot with a Leica so I wasn't viewing the actual image projected by the lens. There was no way I could have seen that strange "flying saucer" resulting from all that bouncing around of the light within the lens. This was the only one of numerous exposures I made of the building that showed that strange luminous apparition. For that matter, in all my years in photography I can't recall ever seeing it before or since. Was it just the light? An artifact of the optics? Maybe there was something there? We'll just have to wonder.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Big Horn Coal Company, Bigger Trucks

Looking back thirty-three ago to 1973 it's hard to believe that the internet wasn't even imagined, cell phones belonged in comic books, and long distance calls were super expensive, but in larger cities you could get Kodak overnight processing of Kodachrome (or Ektachrome). Kodak would pick up and deliver to select dealers every day and fly the film and finished slides city to city at no extra charge. Kodachrome was some gorgeous stuff! Light will eventually fade it, but stored long term in the dark it keeps the magic.

We were on our tour of The Great American West, staying with the Kehrwalds, friends of friends, that lived in Sheridan, Wyoming at the foot of the Big Horn Mountains. The Big Horn Coal Company operated the world's largest open pit mine,and the coal was hauled in these trucks. Everything was oversized, HUGE, like this truck which is way too big to drive on the public highways but just used to get the coal to the rail head, the place where the trains bring the cars to be filled. Those tires are about 6 or 7 feet in diameter and a couple of feet wide! The bulldozers that dug the coal were equally oversized.

Dick Kehrwald had a combination photo studio/camera shop in Sheridan. My Miami friend, photographer Bob Greger, had been living there for a year. I've never seen the Kehrwalds since then although I've talked with Dick on the phone a few times. I have no idea what happened to Bob.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Calusa Indian Pottery Shards

Reading a blog from top to bottom can be reading the posts in the wrong order. If you read the next few posts you'll know who Laymond Hardy is and where this photo was taken, the shell midden in Charlotte Harbor, Florida. Laymond spent quite a bit of time digging around. Others had been there before digging down through the many feet of shells, shell fragments, and pieces of bone that made up the island. Rumors that Indian gold might be there were as common as rumors of Spanish pirates' treasure chests full of gold and jewels.

Laymond didn't really have to "dig". He was content with going through the already "dug", looking for interesting pieces of Calusa Indian pottery, such as these two pieces he's holding. He said that the smooth side was from the inner surface of a bowl. The other piece was from the outside. The Calusas were known for the incised patterns on the outside of their pottery. He said that the Calusas on Florida's west coast and the Tequestas on the east coast were mostly all killed or enslaved by the Spanish, and the slaves shipped to Cuba to work on plantations there. They were tall people. The present day Seminole and Miccosukee Indians, really a political division within one group, are decended from Creeks from further north, supposedly mixed with some esaped slaves of African ancestory. They tend to be short and stocky.

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Art Of Eating Beans With Chopsticks

It gets a bit confusing putting a blog together because the newer posts are on top, and they often refer to information in older posts below, which you don't read first. It's the early 70's and I'm camping with Laymond Hardy on an island in Charlotte Harbor, near the town of Placida, FL. Everything we had with us for a week's stay came over in my 17 foot fiberglass canoe. I'd never seen anybody eat beans with chop sticks before, but Laymond was quite adept at it.

This island wasn't a typical low lying mangrove island. It was actually a shell mound, a midden, built up over hundreds and hundreds of years by the Calusa Indians whch once lived here. The top of the island is maybe 12 or 15 feet above the water level in the bay.

Laymond called me last night, a pleasant surprise. He'd gotten mynumber from his sister Jo Ann. She and I had exchanged a few Emails a couple days ago and I planned on calling Laymond in the next day or two but he beat me to it. He sounds great and said his health is still good at age 84, his hair is still thick and not grey yet. He credits not smoking or drinking for everything.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Laymond Hardy At Home And In The Woods

Last month, May 21st I think it was, I ran some photos in this blog of Laymond Hardy "robbing" his beehives, getting the honey out of them. Laymond was in his early 50's back then about 1973, so now he'd be well into his 80's, and I hadn't seen or heard from him in probably 25 years. Last night I got an Email from his sister Jo Ann in Lake City, FL. I never even knew that he had a sister.

She didn't tell me how she'd run across the photos of her brother, and we were too busy talking about how he was doing to worry about it. He's 84 now and living in an assisted living facility. Jo Ann moved him up there to be near her. She said his health is pretty good other than being a bit forgetful, a typical short term memory problem. I now have his phone number and plan on giving him a call this week.

I decided to look for some more photos of Laymond. I thought Jo Ann would like them. He was a science teacher, naturalist and writer. He and I spent a week camping and photographing on an island in Charlotte Harbor near Placida, FL back in the early 70's. The first picture shows him in his living room in Miami, in the second shot he's playing his harmonica, and in the third shot he's doing the sensible thing when you're on an island in the Florida summertime without air conditioning and there's no breeze ~ siesta time! He was pretty dang good with that harmonica.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Brenda Johnson Where Are You?

Here's another one of those Mystery Photos. It is neatly file numbered, but the log book with the information about the image is here "someplace". I have no idea where. From the slide mount I know her name is Brenda Johnson, and from the sequence number I'm assuming sometime around 1970 plus or minus a couple of years. At the time I was shooting for the local weekly, The North Dade Journal as well as being the "token Honkey" for a black paper, The Florida Courrier. I also covered the Miss North Miami Pageant and shot for the Ruth Foreman Theater, both of which were pretty liberal back then as far as blacks were concerned. Brenda looks to be maybe 16 in the photo.

Does it sound farfetched to wonder if someone might see this and know Brenda, perhaps even be Brenda? Not really. Today I got an Email from Jo Ann Hardy Whitney. She'd Googled her brother Laymond's name and found my photos of him robbing honey from his beehives. She wanted to give me his address and phone number. He's now up in his 80's and living in an assisted living facility. Yes, I'll give him a call. He's the man who introduced me to Bobby and Louise Tiger, resulting in all my photos of Muccosukee and Seminole Indians as they retained the last vestiges of traditional life before bingo, tax free cigarettes, and casinos changed everything. You never know where things are going to lead.

Friday, June 16, 2006

A Butcher, A Baker, A Candlestick Maker?

Well, not exactly, but when Elena was little she sure liked listening to those old nusery rhymes. Strange how one thing leads to another. I met my fishing buddy, Roland Johnson, for breakfast yesterday. We went to a place I'd never been before. It only opened perhaps a month or so ago but Roland raved about their scones and pastries. As I ate I kept noticing a woman sitting across the room from me. I doubt that our eyes ever made contact, and I don't recall ever thinking "Gee, she sure looks familiar!", but there was just something about her that kept calling my attention to her. On the way out, as I was walking by her she hesitatingly said "Al Kaplan?" and gesture for me to sit with her. "You don't know who I am, do you? You don't remember me."

Something clicked and I blurted out "You're Nathan Benn's sister!" I hadn't seen her in what? Twenty, twenty-five years? Way back when Nathan was still going to North Miami Sr. High and the University of Miami and stringing for the Miami News with his Nikon F's and Leica M's. He used to come over all the time and use my darkroom. Then it was off to The Big Time working for National Geographic, and more recently a couple year stint heading up the New York office of Magnum, the international picture agency. Lenore gave me his phone number and insisted I call him. We chatted for about 15 minutes.

Here's a photo of Nathan 34 years ago. Elena is now a tax attorney in Atlanta. Her mother, in the center of the photo, is Dr. Stephanie Brundage, M.D. and lives in South Carolina. Somehow "A lawyer,a doctor, a photographer" just doesn't sound right for a nursery rhyme. I was shooting with a 35/1.4 Summilux on my double-stroke Leica M3. I soon sold the lens. I decided that I could live with f/2 and bought a Summicron which I used on my Leica M4. The M3 body was relegated to just the longer focal lengths. I never liked the "eyes" to convert the 50mm frame to the 35mm angle of view and the first model of the 35 Sunmmilux gave some interesting effects but sharpness wasn't one of them.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Remember Flipper?

The Miami Seaquarium was both a popular tourist destination and a favorite place locally to take the kids. There was a time when no animal rights activists thought that training porpoises to perform tricks was cruelty to animals, and the porpoises always looked like they were smiling anyway. They weren't really. It's just the way their mouth is shaped. They'd leap on command and even jump through hoops. Their reward was a delicious little fish.

One day back in the 1960's while showing some out of town friends "the sights" I shot a couple of rolls of slides figuring that perhaps I'd make some stock picture sales at some point. It's not easy to sell images when the competition is the attraction itself giving away pictures for free as long as they get a mention. This particular shot I always liked because the trainer is tossing a fish into the porpoise's mouth and the mouth is still wide open framing the little fish in mid air.

With most cameras in use these days when you push the button the camera goes through a series of procedures to set the exposure, focus the lens, get the reflex mirror up and out of the way, and only then will the shutter go off. Trying to capture an exact instant, like this one, is impossible. Some people will fire off a burst of consecutive exposures hoping to get what they want, but it's very much a matter of happenstance. With my Leica rangefinder cameras I set the exposure and focus myself, there's no mirror to move, and what I see through the viewfinder when I push the button is exactly what I capture on film. I probably shot a few leaps that day but this isn't one of dozens of exposures, it's one of perhaps 4 or 5 at most because even porpoises get tired and audiences get bored.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Stuffed Cabbage and Pastrami Sandwiches

This slide was in a box of slides packed away for about 30 years. It's a Kodachrome duplicate, a duplicate of what original I have no idea. It's contrasty as hell, as duplicates tend to be, and the highlights are pretty much washed out well past the salvation of Photoshop. Clear film is clear film.

I have no memory of who the boys are, where they are, or why I made the exposure, but the look in the bigger boy's eyes is haunting, compelling, demanding that I let the world try to peer into his soul.

I think that they're Rom, what we usually refer to as Gypsies. They call themselves Rom referring to their former home in Romania although the people likely came originally from India many years ago. About 1980 I discovered that the house next door to me had been rented to a Rom family. A couple in their 50's or 60's, a younger couple, and two kids. Everybody warned me to be careful, that they'd steal everything not nailed down, and to not let myself be talked into any "money making" schemes.

A few days later as I went to my car I saw the grandmother standing outside the kitchen door, a familiar odor drifting across into my driveway. I said "Good morning. That smells just like my grandmother's stuffed cabbage! She always cooked it with raisins." A smile flooded the woman's face as she asked my name and where I was from. We chatted briefly but I had to get to an assignment. When I got home that afternoon her son knocked on my door and invited me over for dinner. The stuffed cabbage was fantastic, as good as any my grandmother ever made. Her husband asked me where was the best place around to get a hot pastrami sandwich. For the next several months I ate dinner over there 3 or 4 days a week, and often about 10 or 11 at night I'd get invited along to go to Corkies for a hot pastrami sandwich. He always insisted on grabbing the check. Then one day I came home to see a "For Rent" sign on the house. They were gone, the entire family, the three cars. I never saw nor heard from them again.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Blue Roofs And The Mohawk Canoe

We set off on a month long trip to the Great American West in the summer of '73. We bought a tent, although between staying with friends in various cities and towns along the way, and sleeping in the '72 VW Microbus, we really didn't sleep in the tent that many nights. The tent was OK for keeping rain from falling on us but wasn't much use when there was a couple of inches of water on the ground. We bought the 17 ft. Mohawk fiberglass canoe for about $200 from Campers Paradise on N.W. 27th Ave. in Miami. Having a canoe on the roof really doesn't cut your gas mileage that we could notice, and it's kind of like always being under a tree. The shade does keep the car cooler, whether moving or parked.

I think that this was taken at a campground in Alabama towards the beginning of our adventure. Stephanie is sitting at the picnic table with her coffee mug, eating breakfast with our two year old daughter Elena. The blue roof on the tent and the blue canoe on the 'bus make me think of all the blue tarps that are still on roofs all over South Florida since hurricanes Katrina and Wilma came through here last year. I traded the VW towards a new '80 Honda Civic but I kept the canoe until three years ago. I sold it to my friend Dave for $200.

The photo was shot with a 35/2 first model Leitz Summicron on a Leica M4.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Just A Cute Little Kid, A Baby Really

Grasshoppers start out as little tiny grasshoppers. They never go through a stage of being a little worm like thingie first. Their proportions change a bit as they grow, just like ours do, but they're unmistakenly grasshoppers. This cute little fellow on the drachenea plant in my back yard is less than 1/2 inch in length. As he grows up he'll attain a length of perhaps 3 inches after eating lots and lots of leaves. His hind legs, tiny at this stage, will get much larger in relation to his body, and he'll have sizeable wings under those wing covers on either side of his back. Yup, they can fly!

The mature lubber grasshopper is a tan colored insect, I suppose to better blend in with the dry end of season plants. I've heard that they really don't taste very good (I've never tried myself) but something must be eating huge quantities of them because there are an awful lot more of these cute little black ones early in the season than there are big tan ones at the end. Well there are plenty of birds around and several varieties of insect eating lizard, both native species and and pets that grew too big and people thought were being nice by letting them go free. As a result the Bahamian anole has about completely replaced our native "cameleon". It isn't really a chameleon, but it does have the ability to change from brown to green and back. The Bahamian species doesn't. You almost never see the native species anymore. (I never tried eating the anoles either.)

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Garden Of The Gods

It was the summer of 1973 and my wife Stephanie had convinced me to take our two year old daughter Elena on The Great Tour of The American West. We ventured into Montana after spending a few days in Sheridan, Wyoming with photographer Dick Kehrwald and his family. I knew Dick through a mutual photographer friend, Bob Greger. Dick and I did some fly fishing for trout in a couple of mountain streams in the Big Horn Mountains nearby.

We spent a few days in Denver visiting one of Steph's cousins as well as a friend who'd moved there from Miami. Throughout the trip I shot roll upon roll of slides for stock. I guess it took a few years to recoup the cost of the trip that way. Some photos sold, others languished. In retrospect I wish I'd shot less color and more black and white. This shot was taken in Colorado.

Then it was off to Las Vegas! Stephanie's dad was living there with his second wife and her son. I'd been miserable enough trying to breath the rarified air in Denver, "The Mile High City". I'd spent my entire life at sea level. Las Vegas was over 100 degrees f everyday, dry, no humidity at all. I wanted to leave her there and visit another photographer friend, Nick Pattengill, in San Diego for a few days, but she wouldn't hear of it! I've never made another trip west, and I never did get to California. Elena was only two and doesn't remember anything at all about the trip.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Moto Cross Racing - Noise, Mud and Excitement

I had some friends thirty odd years ago who enjoyed the excitement of moto cross racing from the sidelines. They had expensive sports cars but didn't want to get dirty (or hurt) themselves. Sundays it was off to the motocross track in Medley to watch the braver souls ride their bikes, jump the hills, go through the puddles and mud, and take the occasional spill. The term "yuppy" had yet to be coined, but real yuppies don't like to get dirty themselves. They only want to watch others doing it.

After going to too many Saturday night parties hearing all about how much fun everybody was going to have on Sunday I finally let myself get talked into going. I had the press credential to both get in free and get close to the action and I figured that I could likely find some publication who'd be interested in buying a photo or two. I brought my Leica M4 and M2-R bodies and a few lenses including my 19mm f/3.5 Canon. That's what I used for this shot on Ektachrome. Somehow I managed to keep from getting drenched in mud myself and got some nice photos that afternoon, but "it wasn't me". I never went back.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Tiger Tales

Some days it really does seem like there's an over riding order in the universe and we're all just along for the ride. Last night I was chatting with Todd Frederick about which photos I should post in my blog. For today's post I chose this photo of Donna Tiger that I shot about thirty years ago. This morning's Miami Herald ran a feature article about the NAMMY's, the Native American Music Awards. What force drove me to select Donna's photo? I had no idea that there'd be that article in the paper.Some days it really does seem like there's an over riding order in the universe and we're all just along for the ride.
It talked at length about the history of the awards, but really concentrated on the rock group Tiger Tiger. Lee and Stephen Tiger are Donna's cousins, sons of Miccosukee tribal chairman Buffalo Tiger. Here's some information on their musical career. I need to dig out some shots I have of them when they were still teens trying to get "the big break". They sure did OK for themselves! I shot this photo Donna was about 16 and attending Palmetto Sr. High in the western fringes of what was then the built up area of Dade County, taking the long school bus ride to and from everyday, while living on the reservation on the Tamiami Trail. Her best friend was a Cuban American girl, Sylvia. Donna was about 6 ft. tall. I stayed in touch with her younger brother Spencer for a few more years, and then? I ran into another cousin about ten years ago, James Billie, who'd become chairman of the Seminole Tribe, at a congressional fund raiser. I've lost track of everybody. The last time I visited the reservation was when I got a call telling me that Donna's father Bobby had died. I attended the funeral.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Major Gas Crises, Unheard Of Prices

Bicycles were popular thirty years ago for both recreation and transportation. Here the Middendorf family is out for a ride with their children strapped into "kiddie seats". Today they'd be wearing helmets, and seats attached in front of the handlebars are considered dangerous. I don't think that they even made helmets for kids back then.

It was a time of ecology awareness and excersizing for good health. The early 70's was also a time when suddenly gasoline prices soared "through the roof" and riding a bike was good for the heart and easy on the wallet. With gas prices nearly doubling and approaching fifty cents a gallon I bought myself a 10-speed and often took my cameras to assignments around North Miami and to Barry College in nearby Miami Shores, a trek of maybe 4 miles each way. It wasn't just the cost of gasoline. It was the long lines at the few stations that might actually have fuel on any given day. Soon it was again plentiful and prices retreated somewhat.

Maybe six or seven years later we had a repeat of the fuel shortage with gas crossing the buck a gallon level ant topping out at $122.9. Again it retreated, but that's a story for another day. The film was Ektachrome shot with a Leica M using flash for a story in The North Dade Journal. The large dark area at the top was intentional so that the title could be superimposed in white or a light color.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Sagamore Bridge, Back Then and Right This Minute

I grew up about 30 miles from the Cape Cod Canal and was always fascinated by what was a great feat of engineering at the time. It allowed coastal shipping to go from New York through the relatively protected waters of Long Island Sound up through Buzzard Bay, then through the Canal and Cape Cod Bay to Boston and points north, shaving a hundred or more miles off the trip, and avoiding going out in the open ocean. It was dug be The Army Corps of Engineers, the sides covered with granite rip-rap to keep the rushing currents from eroding the banks. It was noted for the fishing for striped bass and bluefish, and off the jetties on the north end I caught plenty of pollock and Atlantic mackerel as well.

As a kid my dad loved driving to the Cape on a Sunday. He had cousins who lived in Teaticket, a village in the town of Falmouth. He always pointed out the Bourne Bridge on the southern end of the Canal and told me about how when they were pouring the tons of concrete a worker fell in to it. He's still there, with a bronze plaque in his memory affixed to the bridge. The Sagamore Bridge a few miles to the north is essentially the same design, a suspension bridge. I took this photo in the late 1960's.

There was also a third bridge, a railroad bridge, but the section between the two towers was straight across, not arched, and it could be lowered when a train was going to use it or raised way up to allow the ships to pass beneath. Now there are cameras so you can get a live photo of traffic on the bridge and several other nearby places. Check it out! It's a great thing to look at when boredom overcomes you...LOL

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Doin' The Shuffle

It's strange how recreational pursuits change over the years. Gone are drive-in theaters, and for the most part bowling alleys are a thing of the past also along with office bowling leagues. Remember rolling skating rinks? And briefly a few years ago some brave soul built an ice skating rink about a dozen blocks away. My daughter was thrilled! For a few years everytime she came to Miami to visit me brought her ice skates. She must have been their only customer. It soon sat empty. It was partially torn down and reconstructed as The Arena Shoppes.

Every one story motel (weren't they ALL one story?) had a swimming pool and a shuffleboard court. North Miami had a shuffleboard club that met in an old wooden house by the Biscayne Canal across the street from Griffing Park. Now the house has long since been replaced by a modern concrete block community center but the shuffleboard courts are still there. They're now largely unused because the generation that once played on them has largely died off. Nobody came along to take their place.

This shot was taken in the early 1970's, probably for a brochure for the North Miami Parks and Recreation Department. The director back then, Mike Rozos, was big on publicizing both the parks and the programs, everything from Little League to shuffleboard. I did all the city's photography. The elderly gentleman in the photo was Gus De Beauvernet.

Monday, June 05, 2006

North Miami Art Festival - The Way It Was

Back in the 60's and 70's the North Miami Art Festival was an annual week long getting together of the art community in Griffing Park, drawing people from the surrounding towns to a week of plays and ballet, concerts and childrens theater, and exhibits by dozens of artists. And of course there were lots of food vendors.

The North Miami Society of the Arts, the organization behind the festival, was a major force in town, and the mayor's wife, LouAnn Colodny, was a major force in the Society. It also helped that the the local congressman's wife, Joan Lehman, was a metal sculpter of some fame and lived in neighboring Biscayne Park just south of North Miami. It always helps when people with political connections are involved. The area back then was populated by a mix of Jews, Italians, Greeks, southern rednecks, and a smattering of others, but all English speaking. There was a sense of community that went beyond the differences. We'd yet to get the influx of Hispanics speaking Spanish, and Kreyole speaking Haitians. Almost everybody was white.

As time passed the city was changing and the festival's name was changed to Arti Gras in an effort to stimulate some renewed interest. Rather than embracing one anothers' music the music pushed people apart. Rap with its heavy beat, reggae with its syncopation, folk, jazz and classical all had an appeal, but not to the same audience. Somehow people who'd eat grilled lamb with Greek salad found curried goat just a bit too foreign. Now we have the modern Museum of Contemporary Art next to city hall but the sense of community is gone.

This photo was shot on Ektachrome with an M Leica and a 35mm Summicron.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Girls Straight Up, Girls On The Rocks

Back in the early 70's when I shot this one I was shooting for a couple of local magazines as well as doing a lot of model and acting composites for a local talent agency run by Ruth Foreman. She started out by opening a childrens' playhouse on N.E. 123rd St. near U.S. 1, a straight shot across Broad Causeway from Bay Harbor Islands, Surfside and Bal Harbor, and next to the wealthy waterfront Keystone Point neighborhood in North Miami. There were plenty of kids whose parents could afford acting and modeling lessons.

By the 1960's North Miami was the center of the South Florida film industry with a couple of large sound stages, equipment rental houses, and a film lab to develop the thousands of feet of Eastman 5251 (this was before 5254) 35mm film that was being shot every day. Every month or so I'd shoot some black and white publicity photos of the latest childrens' production at the playhouse and book a bunch of composites and head shots to shoot.

According to the "extensive notes" I put on the slide mount her name was Kathy Jones. Other than that I don't remember any details. It looks like it was taken on the rocks at the Haulover Cut jetties at the south end of Haulover beach. I don't remember if it was shot for her composite or one of the local magazines.

Saturday, June 03, 2006


The little Volkswagen beetle was affectionately called a "bug" by many. We had one from about 1965 until perhaps 1978, and along the way also had first a 1961 VW Microbus until we replaced it with a shiny new 1972 Microbus. That had one friend of mine very upset. Al always prided himself in having the newest car in the crowd, and suddenly his 1971 Microbus wasn't the newest. About the only visible difference between his beige and white 'bus and my beige and white 'bus was the shape of the cooling air intake louvers just behind the rearmost side windows. His had a curved rear profile while the newer model had a straight rear edge, only rounded a bit at the top and the bottom. I doubt that many people could even see the difference, or knew, but Al was a true yuppie more than a dozen years before the word was coined to describe people like him, people who always had to have the newest, best, fanciest, most expensive whatever.

Florida has always been noted for its bugs, the real kind, the kind the creeps, crawl, or flies. Everything from mosquitos to sand flies to palmetto bugs. The first two bite and make you itch. Palmetto bugs are mostly just a nuisance, and get to be about an inch and a half long and nearly an inch across. They're big bugs! If you're driving in the summer probably the most annoying bug of all is the love bug. There's no way to avoid getting dozens of them on the front of your car and windshield. They make no effort to get out of the way because they're otherwise occupied. They're on a mating flight. They're copulating while they fly, hence the name "love bug". Every time you smack into one you're smacking into TWO of them! The vertical blunt front of the VW Microbus is a great way to hit lots of them. Supposedly the splattered bugs are hell on your paint job so people rush to scrub them off as quickly as possible. In this 1973 photo, made just after driving across the state to St. Petersburg, I had quite a love bug collection. If we hadn't driven through multiple thunderstorms on the way over you'd have a hard time seeing the car at all, what with all the bugs that'd be there.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Gettin' High On One Wheel

Like all neighborhoods people move in and move out and move on. The two older Corrado boys, Bob and Richie, graduated college and moved on. Their widowed mom Edith and the youngest boy Timmy, moved elsewhere. No more late night listening to the latest Doors LP or dicussing how the performance of last week's Cream concert compared with the same songs on their last record made in the studio. No more stopping by for a cup of Mrs. C's coffee after work when she'd yell out "yoo-hoo, Al, ready for some coffee?" Or the time the nice little old lady who lived between Mrs. C's house and mine was drinking coffee with us and asked me if I'd like a "nice bowl of fresh mushroom soup". The two of them were happy as could be, smiling and giggling like a couple of school girls. I said "sure". She went home and brought me a cup of delicious mushroom soup.I finished the bowl of soup and was almost through with my coffee when it hit me! Bob, Richie, and a few of their friends had gone out gathering "magic mushrooms" the day before. Hallucinagenic magic mushrooms. They did make some tasty soup!

After the Corrados moved on the Whiteheads bought the house, with two boys about 11 and 14 and a daughter Shirley who was about 8. The older boy, Phillip, got a new 10-speed bike. You couldn't get him off it, it seemed. Like most of the youngsters in the early 70's he inverted the handlebars. They were no longer in a position favoring a crouched over riding stance for cutting through the wind, but it made it a lot easier to pull the front wheel up off of the street and do a "wheelie". Some kids could ride seemingly forever up on just the one wheel, even negotiating corners in that position. Of course all that weight on just one wheel was more than it was really designed for, and it didn't do the bike any good. Within a few years kids were all riding bikes with small wheels, fatter tires, and small sturdy frames designed for wheelies and jumping off of the home made ramps that began to clutter the streets. By then Phillip was all grown up and the Whiteheads had moved elsewhere also.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Out Of The Murky Depths Of The Mind

Powerpoint, digital projection, was something we didn't even dream about in the days when landing a man on the moon (and bringing him back) was the wonder of the day. For audio-visual presentations we used 35mm color slides in 2" square mounts, perhaps a cassette tape recorder for a sound track, and just maybe for cuing the projector to change slides. Some people even used two projectors with fade control so there was always something on screen. We rejoiced that we didn't have to change 3 1/4x4 inch glass mounted slides one at a time in a "lantern slide" projector as our fathers did. The Kodak Carousel projector owned the amateur market and the slightly sturdier built Kodak Ektagraphic had the A-V market sewed up. Kodak RULED!

I often needed to put together slide shows for clients or to illustrate various photo techniques when I taught at Miami-Dade Jr. College (now they've dropped the Jr.). Actually it was just Dade County Jr. College back then, and then it went through a period of substituting Community for Junior. Anyway, since I mostly work in B&W I needed B&W slides and the easiest way to do that was to put the camera on a copy stand, set up a couple of small electronic flash units for illumination, and copy prints onto slide film.

Kodachrome film is noted for its archival qualities, its ability to resist fading and color shift from years of storage. Ektachrome film on the other hand doesn't hold up as well to sitting around for years on end but the dyes are much more resistant to fading from being exposed to repeated bright light while being projected. I mostly chose Ektachrome or Kodachrome for other reasons. If I was in a rush I could get 2 hour processing of the Ektachrome at a lot of labs in Miami. Kodachrome imported from England, and sometimes France, came with prepaid processing for about $3.59 per 36 exp. roll, but then there was the delay of the mail to and from the Atlanta lab.

As I've been sorting through cartons and boxes of old photos I've been running across lots of these B&W slides. I just about always made notes on the negative sleeves and/or the contact sheets but never did on the copy slides. This leaves me with a lot of images that it'd be a royal pain to research what the heck they were. I think, just maybe, that this shot was at an "alternative" private high school that was located at Temple Israel in Miami, sometime in the 1968 to 1971 period. I remember shooting a story about it. Like most everything else from that period it would have been with a Leica M2-R or M4.