Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Of paper hats and legacies...

Caty, 6, asked me today to make her a paper hat, like the one in old storybooks, all pointy at the top and made from newspaper. Luckily for me, my father was having lunch here at that moment, and I sent her to him.

You see, before he became an academic and college president, my Dad worked in the journalism business too, starting as a copy boy at the old San Francisco Examiner (where I would later enjoy a photo internship) in the 1930s. When there, he learned how to make paper hats from the printing machinists, who would fold a double-page piece of broadsheet paper into a square hat to protect their hair from ink. It was always a small miracle to me to watch him make them when I was a child, and I thought it would be a double benefit for Caty to ask him for a hat: He'd be rewarded for his grandfatherly knowledge, and she'd be occupied and happy.

But the years have passed (he's 87 now) and it's been a while since anyone (me) asked for one of those hats. He had a hard time remembering.

Fortunately, I had preserved the last one I asked for. It hangs in a place of honor in my study, made from a yellowed, 14-year-old Commentary page of The Washington Times. I fetched it, brought it in and, from my memory of watching him make them and by carefully unfolding my treasure, figured out how it should be made.

Of course, with the internet, it's easy to find instructions on how to do ... well anything. But the idea of learning from living memory, not to mention family memory, to do something is special, I think.

Of course, there is one problem: how long before one won't be able to find a double-page piece of broadsheet newspaper?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Scenes from life...

Two new images, again because I can:
Here we see the cat in residence in a local bookstore, Books & Co.

This, I think, is a pretty good symbol for the pleasures of living in Lexington. The store has always had a cat about, a nice homey touch, but one that is hardly unique here. The antique dealer on the next block over, for example, brings his golden retrievers to work every day, where they sit outside the front door of his shop eagerly greeting passers by.

Also, this is one of two independently-owned bookstores in town ... within a block of each other. I wonder what the statistics are on book shop presence per capita, let alone two that are not chains. (One, by way of explanation, deals more in used books, while Books & Co. sells mostly new. Both, needless to say, carry our book, Rockbridge.)

Shot with my beloved Leica M3 and a 35mm f/2 on Kodak's BW400CN film.

This is the graduation ceremony for St. Patrick's Preschool, operated through our local Catholic church. Our youngest attends, but won't graduate to kindergarten herself for another two years. I enjoy this shot because it looks to me like the DaVinci Last Supper of kid mischief. (Adding to my amusement, in the background to the right is a wood carving of the famous DaVinci picture.)

Shot with a Nikon D80 and 17-55mm f/2.8 lens...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

It makes a body think...

From the new site, a photograph made in 1939 by Hugo Jaeger, who worked as a personal photographer to Adolph Hitler. This is Hitler's Chancellery office in Berlin, and that's his hat casually dropped on the side table there.

The scary thing about this particular image (and really several of the others -- Jaeger saved some 2,000 transparencies after the war, many of which is publishing for the first time) is I could see this being something I would have shot, casually working in a government office with the officials around. Was Jaeger a Nazi? I don't know; the Life description of him makes him seem just a guy with a job. But it does cause one to think...

In one of the other captions, Life tells how taken Hitler was with the new color film (I'm assuming Agfachrome, though I suppose it could also have been Kodachrome). "The future belongs to color photography," Jaeger said Hitler told him. Hmmm....