I started playing pinball at Gabby Avenue News in Meadville when I was in junior high. Almost every morning before school I would try to get in a few games before dashing off to homeroom. After that, I played mostly at the College Pizza Villa on North Main Street. When I got to Wittenberg, I was happy to see that there were 4 or 5 machines in the basement of the student union. To say the least, I was a regular down there. With the advent of video games, the popularity of pinball faded, and the machines that were being made were not so interesting to me. They were way too complicated with multiple levels and lots of ramps and extra bells and whistles. For me, the heyday of the pins was from the mid 60s to the mid 70s. / Peter has always been interested in my younger days and he loves to hear me tell stories about growing up in Meadville. He especially liked the pinball related anecdotes. / Some time ago my brother got a machine for his basement. It is made by Stern and is the Elvis model. It is one of the later designs, and initially it didn’t interest me so much. But whenever we would visit, Pete would head down and spend lots of time playing. Eventually I became hooked and we now play quite a bit together. Because of his CP, he plays both flippers with his right hand, and he is amazing good. / Union doesn’t regularly have any machines, but during special weekend events they bring in one or two that are set up to play for free. Cristine and I were visiting him yesterday and he and I went over to Reamer and played this one. Like the Elvis game, it is of the modern variety with way too much going on, but as you can see in the high score list, I totally killed it. Score inflation has gotten out of hand though; over a billion points is just wrong. At some point during my big game, Carlene Carter’s “Every Little Thing” started playing and after we were done, I was surprised to see in the credits that the female voice that pops up on occasion was hers. Weird, but I went to iTunes today and bought the song.
In many ways Pearl is a true retriever. She is not obsessed with balls or sticks but she really loves her bowl. Since she was young she would eat and then pick it up and carry it around the house. We never know where it will end up, and sometimes in the morning it is a pain to have to look for it. About a year ago, I began to make her go find it before I would feed her. She is mostly good at it, but sometimes she brings me one of her stuffed animals instead. But she has figured out that bringing me the bowl means she gets to eat so there is some incentive for her. The only problem is that at random times throughout the day she will get the bowl and carry it around expecting a meal. I can mostly ignore it, but once in a great while I succumb to her cuteness and give in.
Cris dropped me off in Harrisburg where my good pal Peter Carroll picked me up on Friday morning. We drove down to DC to spend some time with his family. On our way we stopped in Dillsburg, PA at a great diner for a bite to eat. Peter and I have travelled together so many times, and it is always fun. He got this little GoPro video camera recently and has been goofing around with it. It also takes amazing stills.
Over the years we have taken so many goofy pictures of each other. Here’s another one. We didn’t try any of the cakes in the case, but I was sorely tempted.
When Cris and I drove to South Carolina this year we left home late in the day and drove through the night as we usually do. We always joke about the IHOP-Waffle House line and how it mostly mirrors the Mason-Dixon line. The Waffle House breakfasts can be a bit on the greasy side, but there isn’t much choice on I-95. We were amazed to find an IHOP near Florence, SC so we stopped and ate at around 6.oo am. We got back on the road and a bit later we stopped for gas. We laughed because it was the same exit where we ate at a Waffle House last year. The sun had just broken through the clouds and the building looked great in the morning light.
Sometimes I get a bit blocked up when I think about writing on this blog. Since the suitcases project has garnered so much attention, and with all the new subscribers, I sometimes feel a bit self-conscious. It is something I fight against, but in the last week I have been suffering from a bit of “Karma Congestion” as my friend Alex would call it. The easiest way for me to get back into it is to post something that makes me really happy.
When I was shooting the UMASS Fenway game last week, I was surprised and really glad to see my son Peter’s great friend Tommy. He and Pete have known each other since middle school and he is one of the nicest people around. This picture says just about all you need to know about him. Such a treat to run into him in such an unexpected place.
This suitcase belonged to Floyd H. It is one of the many empty cases that are in the collection.
When I first started on this project, my plan was to shoot only cases that had something in them.
As the work has developed though, I am finding that there is a segment of my backers that are as interested in the cases themselves as the contents.
So I will make an attempt to include as many of these suitcases as I can, since even when empty they tell a lot about the people who owned them.
Floyd’s case did have this tag in it, and I believe it is the original from when he was admitted. I am still struggling with the name issue, and regretfully have made the decision to obscure his surname via photoshop. Aside from the legal issues, this causes a huge problem for me, as I don’t believe in manipulating the content of photographs. This opens a major can of worms, and I am guessing that I will get response from both sides of the issue, but as of now, I find it necessary. I will say though that as a rule, I never mess around with the content of these images, and only will do so when it comes down to the identification of the residents.
This past Saturday I shot the UMASS / Vermont ice hockey game at Fenway Park in Boston. My friend Thom Kendall was covering the action on the ice, and I had the luxury of just wandering around shooting whatever looked interesting. It was great fun to have the run of the place. It was the first official event in this, the 100th year of the park. So much history. / This panorama was taken from the “Green Monster”.
This is the first New Year’s Day in years that there hasn’t been snow on the ground. Cris and I went up into the woods with the Pearl and it was clear and sunny with the temperature in the mid 40′s. Sometimes it seems that winter should already be over, especially since we had so much snow in late October.
There was still ice in the shaded areas.
We had never noticed this dead tree before, and when we first saw it we were reminded of the Knights of Ni from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
He even had some hair-like plants sprouting out of his head.
/Cris had dropped one of my handkerchiefs on a walk just after Thanksgiving, and some kind soul found it and put it high enough into a tree so that it would be visible to whomever had lost it.
I have always hated losing things and when we saw it in the tree today it made us very happy. It’s nice to start the new year being on the receiving end of someone’s thoughtfulness.
All the best to you all for 2012. Jon