Enthusiasms


 

 

img_5344From the movie-The Untouchables-1987…
Capone: A man becomes preeminent, he’s expected to have enthusiasms. Enthusiasms, enthusiasms… What are mine? What draws my admiration? What is that which gives me joy? Baseball! A man stands alone at the plate. This is the time for what? For individual achievement. There he stands alone. But in the field, what? Part of a team. Teamwork… Looks, throws, catches, hustles. Part of one big team. Bats himself the live-long day, Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, and so on. If his team don’t field… what is he? You follow me? No one. Sunny day, the stands are full of fans. What does he have to say? I’m goin’ out there for myself. But… I get nowhere unless the team wins.
Hoods: Team!
[Capone beats one of the men to death with a baseball bat]

I owned my first watch when I was a schoolboy back in the late 60s. It was an inexpensive wristwatch. It barely fit my thin wrist and hung loosely when I wore it. I remember it being a battery watch, but I do not remember anything else about it. Fast forward a decade or so and it is my high school graduation. My father gives me a really nice skeleton watch. One with glass and front and back so you can see the works from both sides. It still means the world to me. It has no intrinsic value other than the memories of my father.

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And I still collect watches. My mentor was the great Mancil Page of Page-Parsons Jewelry. (No relation) A tall elegant man with piercing eyes and a keen intellect. He started me on Wyler watch. Im not really sure how it started, but here I am. I have close to 2 dozen pocket watches stored, most of them Wylers. None of them are worth very much on their own, but collectively? Who knows. In another few decades, when all the cool collectables are gone, they may be worth more. The watch at the top of this post is my only wristwatch. It, like most of the others, was built in the late 50s-early 60s. It has a classic look and still functions perfectly. Not a battery to be seen. In my current work I am based in Prudhoe Bay Alaska. We wear a lot of clothing there. And because of that I am not always able to get to my pants pocket or a vest, because of all the clothing. So a wristwatch is the easiest to reference.

We live in a digital world. I use computers at work and at home. My iPhone becomes more important to my work life and home life all the time. My wife’s car is a marvel of imbedded computers. The Computers are all around us. And yet I own a manual shift truck from the late 80s. And I choose to wear manual watches. I like the thought of manual. I enjoy the collecting of these things from another era. It feels right to me, these old things. Pulling a watch from my pocket to check the time instead of looking at my phone. Turning my wrist to look at a device built by hand. Still working well and looking good. And as I get older I am appreciating these things more and more. I am quite nostalgic and these things give me peace. A small connection to another time and place. An enthusiasm for a man getting older and looking back more often. An enthusiasm.

“When you get to the moon, find my lens cap!”


 

 

Update 11/17/16 – Norma passes. Obit at bottom.

 

 

I’ve worked with and assisted countless photographers over the decades. Many I have forgotten. Some I haven’t seen for 20 or 30 years, I can remember the faces, but not necessarily the names. One photographer I will never forget – Bob Bishop. But sadly he no longer remembers me.

 

Bob Bishop
Bob Bishop
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Bob in his home office.

When I first met Bob back in the ’80s he had come into the store looking for pricing in slide film. Not unusual, many photographers wanted to buy locally if they could. The problem was that it was almost impossible for me to match the pricing of films of the large New York retailers. As we talked I learned of his business and what he did.

Bob was a full time photographer making a living. This is unusual as many photographers are part time hobbyists, having another job outside of photography. Bob sold postcards. And lots of them.IMG_0362

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Cases of postcards ready for delivery.

Lots and lots of postcards. Back in the 60s and thru the early 90s Bob had card stands in every tourist stop and recreational retailer in a 4 state area. At our Gene Taylors in Snowmass CO. we had a Bob Bishop postcard stand. Bob would show up a few times a month in the busy seasons and refill the card rack. There were hundreds of choices and thousands of cards,

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Just one of the slide storage areas.

And they weren’t all just 4×6 sized either. He sold bigger versions up to an 8×10 and also a line of posters. And there was enough business in this over the years he could support his family in a comfortable fashion.

 

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Old photographs trigger old memories!

Bob kept all of his slides at home in a organizational style some would call chaotic, but he knew where they were. The best sellers he kept in a different place.

Over the years we traded gear, sometimes I sold him stuff and sometimes he sold me stuff. He was a very good photographer and used many different tools to get the exact photo he wanted. But mainly he used 35mm film gear.

 

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Photo conference in Aspen – 1951.

One of the first successful Photo Conferences was help in Aspen. There is an amazing group photo of the instructors at this conference, Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, Minor White and more. Bob was there and took photos of these groundbreaking photographers. But I can’t show it. Its copywrited and has value for future uses. But please check out Bobs website.

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From left, my wife Jenny, Bob Bishop, Bobs wife Norma, at his recent show at the Art Center in Grand Junction, Summer 2015.

Bob is 93 now and age is catching up. Dementia is upon him like a warm blanket settling over his shoulders. When he looks at me there is no recognition in his eyes. All of our history is erased to him. And even Norma doesn’t really know me. She is very nice and says she does. But I am gone to her also. He talked to my wife for a good hour at his recent show at the Art Center. He told her stories of visiting the moon and war stories and other things, mostly false memories. When he and I had a chance to visit, that is when he asked me in the nicest way, “When you get to the moon, find my lens cap!”   I miss you Bob. Have nice travels!

 

Norma Bishop

Obituary

Norma Ann Bishop
February 22, 1932 – October 7, 2016
Norma Ann Bishop, of Grand Junction, died October 7, 2016, after a lengthy battle with pulmonary fibrosis and colon cancer. She was 84.
Norma was born February 22, 1932, to Rudolf “Rudy” and Rubye Steinacker in Kansas City, MO. Norma, the youngest of three, spent her childhood on a farm in Parkville, MO.
She graduated from Parkville High School where she played the saxophone in the band. Norma graduated from Iowa State Teachers College (now the University of Northern Iowa) in Cedar Falls in 1953, with a bachelor’s degree in education with a major in art and a minor in music.
Norma started her teaching career as an art teacher in West Des Moines, Iowa. She subsequently taught in New Mexico, Japan and the Denver Metro Area before retiring from Taylor Elementary in Palisade in 1997. Norma taught elementary students in Crownpoint, N.M. on the Navajo Reservation early in her career. She took a sabbatical to teach English for two years (1986-1988) at Shokei Women’s Junior College in Sendai, Japan. Norma taught many subjects and grade levels, but she especially enjoyed teaching second grade.
Norma married Robert “Bob” Carskaddan Bishop on November 30, 1958, in Parkville. Bob, a retired professional photographer, is known for his postcard photographs. They met in Denver when Bob made a print for her in his darkroom.
Norma, who was a lifelong learner, was involved in several organizations, including the Mesa County Retired Teachers Association (MCSPERA) and the Colorado School and Public Employees Retirement Association (CSPERA). She was also a member of the Grand Mesa Macintosh Users Group (GMMUG), Western Colorado Bonsai Society, High Desert Orchid Society and the Colorado Mountain Club.
Other memberships included the Colorado National Monument Association, The Art Center in Grand Junction, Western Colorado Botanical Gardens, the Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver Art Museum and the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.
She enjoyed gardening, reading, traveling, music, art, ceramics, basketry, stained glass, calligraphy, botanical illustration, archaeology and genealogy. Norma was proud of her Swiss heritage. In addition to the saxophone, she played the piano, flute and handbells. Her pets over the years, a rabbit, birds, dogs and a pony, brought joy to her life.
After moving to Grand Junction in 1969, Norma was a member of the First Presbyterian Church and the First Congregational Church UCC.
During Norma’s retirement, she was a board member at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, N.M. She was a volunteer master gardener with the Colorado State University Extension Office in Mesa County. She traveled to Poland in 1998 where she briefly taught English. Other travels with her adventurous spirit included Ecuador and a number of countries in Asia and Europe. She was generous with her time as a volunteer.
Norma was preceded in death by her parents, Rudy Steinacker in 1967 and Rubye Lillian Whiteaker Steinacker in 1951; her sister, Marian Louise Fine in 2009; brother-in-law, Quentin Fine in 2012; brother-in-law, Leonard Stanford Pani in 2005; sister-in-law, Mary Bishop Pani in 1958; father-in-law, Jerome Bishop of Muscatine, Iowa in 1980, and mother-in-law, Marie Barry Brenizer also of Muscatine in 1991.
Norma is survived by her husband, Bob; daughter, Laura Bishop of Grand Junction; brother, Warren Ray Steinacker (Linda) of Glen Mills, PA; nieces, Elaine Scott (Sid), Cincy Borne (Hank), Sharon Steinacker, Eileen Fine, Sheryl Fine (John Lewis) and Marilyn Fine (Craig McCracken); nephews, Doug Stanford (Adriana), Jay Pani, John Pani (Carolyn Mervis) and Tom Pani (Suzanne), and a number of great nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, 230 East Ohio St., Suite 500, Chicago, IL 60611.
A memorial service will be held in Grand Junction in November. Burial was at Walnut Grove Cemetery November 3 in Parkville.
Arrangements were made by Meyers Funeral Chapel – Northland in Parkville and Callahan-Edfast Mortuary in Grand Junction.

– See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/gjsentinel/obituary.aspx?n=norma-bishop&pid=182564187&fhid=20357#sthash.JPyzTZvk.dpuf

 

 

You Never Forget Your First!


72 Chevy NovaAnd she was a beautiful girl. 4 doors and a small 307 V8. 3 on the tree and a hi/lo switch on the floor. I got her to commit to be mine for only $500. She really liked to eat her way thru starter motors, but I could forgive that. I re-upholstered the bench seats and gave her some neat black new rubber shoes. And she ran! I’m not going to call her heavy, but tipping the scales at a ton and a half, she was no speedster off the line. But once you got her purring at about 63 MPH, she would cruise forever.

You could put a lot of junk in her trunk and fill her up in the backseat with barely a whimper. She was with me through high school. A trip with Lex to Montana and back. Through numerous trips to Grand Junction to visit Mom. She accompanied me on dates with my soon to be bride. She even went with me when I eventually moved to Grand Junction for good. But alas, it was too hot in the summers in Grand Junction. And my new job demanded a truck. So I dumped her. And regret it to this day.

It is true that you never forget your first. The freedom that comes at 17 with your first car. No more relying on parents for rides. Taking friends to Neversink for Woodsies and Mickies Big Mouths. (Shhhh, thats a secret!) Listening to Meatloafs ‘Love by the Dashboard Lights’ on a tinny AM radio. Gotta love the 70’s. But it is the nostalgia, and the vivid memories of everything that is attached to that car that remains. I’ve had numerous vehicles and motorcycles since. But none tug at my heart like my 1972 Chevy Nova sedan. Green with the white top. And a backseat measured in acres!

Dustbowls, Documentaries, and Dorothea Lange


Geneology

I was going through a family history and recollections that my Uncle and Mother have written. They completed this remembrance of their growing up years as a way to preserve some family history for future generations. Its actually quite cool. Handwritten and hand drawn genealogical charts, Civil and Revolutionary war tales, Depression era stories. The whole gamut. A very interesting read. Below is a small excerpt from my mothers memory…

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As an aside, if you have not seen the exceptional movie that Ken Burns made,

You should! It just brings home the extraordinary circumstances that forged and shaped a whole generation of people. Including my parents. And then us, the following generation.

One of the chronologers of that era was an amazing photographer named Dorothea Lange. You can see her amazing work all over the place. I like the albums on Shorpy the best. In my opinion she captured the anguish and worry of a segment of America that nobody else could. Pictures like hers can only be made with empathy and compassion. Not to mention her compositional skills and perfect eye. Below is her seminal photo.

Migrant Mother by Dorothea Lange

People lived through this mess, and made it to the other side. Scarred and ready to move on. Some moved on with little on their back and some looked back to those they left behind. Some didn’t make it through at all. My own mother talked a lot about the depression and the dustbowl years. The poor living conditions and her own families struggle to make ends meet made a huge impression on her, and shaped her demeanor and outlook on life. Later in her own life, as time and energy were drawn out of her, she would talk about those times with me, sitting on her front porch. She would draw comparisons to current conditions and we would have a discussion. Tough times never left my mother. As in the face of the mother above, some situations shape the rest of our lives.

Copper Plate printing and the Shopper


It is about 1980 and I am working at the Gunnison County Shopper. A weekly devoted to want ads and advertising.Most communities have one like this. I am an ad salesman and all around gofer. One of my jobs is to get up at an ungodly hour on every Wednesday morning and drive to the Montrose Daily Press. But I am getting ahead of myself.

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When you called the Shopper back then you would tell the person on the phone what you were selling. The words were typed into a small printing machine which would spit out your ad on a thick paper, This would be adhered with wax to a large 2 page spread template. So the pages would be page 1 on the right and page 16 on the left. Then page 2 on the left and page 15 on the right. So if you are imagining this in your head, you are already folding the pages into each other. ( I tried to find pictures on the web to illustrate this for you, but there seem to be none.)

Wax Typesetting

So the paper is hand laid out on all these sheets. Tiny little boxes of ads running up and down the pages all stuck on with wax. The ads were composed of clippings from clip art books for any graphics and all the text made with that same little printer. If the paper had color in that week, then you had different sheets with each of the corresponding colors. Called a color separation the colors would be split by page into CMYK. Cyan (blue), Magenta (red), Yellow and Black. So a color separation was more time consuming and if not done correctly, embarrasing.

Ok, so now it is 3 am on a Wednesday morning and I am on my way to Montrose with a large 2 foot by 3 foot by 3 inch thick box with at least 16 pages, but probably more because of the color seps. At the Montrose Daily press we would go into the copper plate room. The copper plate was the same size as 2 pages of the shopper, just like we laid out. The plate was put into a machine that would bend back the edges about 1/2 inch on the upper and lower sides and then it was coated with a thin layer of some chemical I cant remember now. The plate was placed on the back side of a large washing machine-looking appliance, and our waxed paper layup on the opposite side. In the middle was a heliarc welding rod of some sort. The lid was closed and a button pushed. The arc would get red hot and the written word was magically transposed into the copper plate. The chemical kept everything that was dark, the text and pictures, and disregarded anything white. And it was placed on it upside down and backwards. Think of it as a very large negative.

All of these plates are now taken into the pressroom and attached to various huge rollers. Most of them on the black ink rollers, but in some instances onto the C or M or Y ink rollers. And then the giant press starts turning. Paper is pulled off gigantic rolls, fed into one end, passes through the copper plate rollers and eventually comes out the other end printed, matched up, cut into pages and folded. Amazing and magical. If there were inserts that day. I would be busy stuffing them into the papers innerds. The bundles of papers were then loaded into the back end of the Shoppers Suburban and home I went. Usually in the afternoon.

The papers were offloaded at a warehouse where all the delivery people would come pick up their amount of bundles to be delivered bright and early Thursday morning.

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One of the more interesting jobs I had as a young man. Now it is all done digitally in computers and with new state of the art printing presses. Who would remember the copper plate system now? It was state of the art at the time. it replaced making all your text with lead letters lined up in rows and pressed under pressure onto the paper.

Pictures from Google images.

Born on the Right Side of the Tracks


BW Gunn 1800s

I was born and raised in a small mountain town in Colorado. At 8000 ft in elevation weather can be harsh. Defining. At times life altering. There are many friends I grew up with. Many of them sons and daughters of the same people my father worked with at the local college. We spend whole summer days together playing in the neighborhood. At each others house. In their rooms. In the backyards overlooking real alleys. No locks on doors. Bikes left haphazardly in the yards like forgotten dominoes. No one steals anything. Its not done. Its not thought of. Discipline is a community affair. If you did something deemed ‘wrong’ at a friends house, you would get a stern talking to there and then again at home by your own parents. And it was not looked at as intrusive or wrong for another parent to have done this. It was expected and dealt with seriously when you returned home.

There is school. There are two elementary schools and one high school. Everyone goes. There are no snow days. It can snow a foot or two. Everyone goes. It can be 40 below. Everyone goes. Is there forced busing? Only if you wanted to go to school from the farms and ranches outside of town. Lunches were at a central building in town. We got on the bus and went, ate lunch, and then bussed back. No big deal. It was how it was done. Lunches were excellent, plentiful and you ate what was served. Thats it.

In the summers we played with lawn darts, bows and arrows, baseball bats and balls, jumped bikes over ramps, crashed, skinned knees, got scars, cried a little, and then got back on. No one died, no parent was overly cautious and pulled out anti-bacterial hand cleaner. You just played. And learned. And grew up.

When in high school we were all together in one school. Kids from the college parents. Kids from the ranches outside of town. Kids from the store owners in town. All of us under one roof. The ranch kids showed up at school at 8 am just like the rest of us. But they had already been up for hours feeding livestock, doing chores, checking on cattle and horses. And then going to school all day and then repeating it again. And again. And again. Sports were defining also. The next closest school is 60 miles away. Over mountain passes. Hard enough to drive in summer, let alone in winter weather. In a school bus with 60 kids aboard.

Many of the kids hang around after graduating for a few years. Maybe the local college. Or a job. But they disperse slowly. One by one leaving the closed confines of the Gunnison Valley and trying to carve out a life somewhere else. Somewhere bigger, somewhere warmer, somewhere else. Somewhere.

And now I return for funerals and memorials. I return only occasionally. Maybe I am just passing through to somewhere else. Maybe I am going to turn down Spencer Street and look at my old house and my friends houses. I will remember my parents and my friends parents, most of whom have passed on now. Maybe I’ll go by the cemetery on the hill and recognize all the names on the tombstones. I will remember old friends and look for special places that remind me of a time and of a place long time ago. A special place high in the Rockies where we were defined not by the circumstances of weather or location. But defined by the love of a caring community and the love of friends growing up that define a life even now.

There are no wrong side of the tracks in Gunnison. We are all on the same side of the tracks. In one small community defined by us all.