Saturday, September 29, 2007

Back When I Was A Farmer...

When I was with the Kansas City Convention and Visitors Bureau - in the 1970s - I had a great job. There we were - smack dab in the middle of America's Bread Basket or something.

I was invited to participate in many things and one of the B E S T was "Swap A Visit With A Farmer" offered by the Chamber of Commerce. The idea was to make city-slickers more appreciative of what a farmer does for us. And, I guess, vice versa.

My family didn't know exactly where we were going for the "Surprise Weekend" but I drove us to the middle of Missouri one Friday and we met our host farm family. That night we gathered with a few hundred other farmers and families, sat in bleachers and rooted for the hometown high school football game. They won. Things were looking up.

We didn't actually stay in the rambling rustic farmhouse I had envisioned for the weekend. He was rebuilding so we stayed underground - in the basement - beneath the house just barely under construction. He had failed to tell the Chamber about that.

With no windows it was hard to know when the sun came up but when it did, we were already awake and sitting down to a HUGE breakfast. Bigger than the Grand Slam featured on the menu at Denney's. Farmers eat like food grows on trees.

There was a drought going on so Farmer Joe and I spent most of the morning making trips to fill a large water tank in the back of his pickup and we hauled water to his thirsty cows. They got excited when they spotted his truck. Well, as excited as a cow ever gets. They moo-ed back when I moo-ed them.

My young daughter got to ride on the seat on the tractor (without a helmet or a seatbelt as my then-wife pointed out) and that was cool. In fact, everything was cool. The high temperature for the weekend was about 35 degrees. They both caught terrible colds. And there was the incident with the pig knocking her into the mud.

Ok, it wasn't the greatest thing we ever did as a family, but I had a new appreciation for Winter Wheat, Milo and the other stuff Joe was growing and, of course, we were looking forward to when Joe and the Missus would come to stay with us in Kansas City. I could hardly wait.

My house was already built and we had a spare room. Above ground.

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

"Za" Just Got A Lot Closer...

Rivers Avenue in North Charleston used to have two biker bars across the street from each other. Both closed and one became a guitar bar.

Then TJ & Tommy closed and, after months and months of waiting, last night one of our city's finest family-run pizza operations finally opened the doors of its 5th location.

Andolini's, which started on Wentworth Street back when cheese was first invented, has successfully branched out to Folly Road, West Ashley and Mount Pleasant and now has invaded the North. The family also owns the popular Juanita Greenberg's Nacho Royale on King Street.

The building is a calzone throw from Trident Community College and the site was becoming known as a "revolving door" risky business location.

Before American Biker and TJ, there was a period when Henry's - the one from the market area and Mt. Pleasant - had opened as a self-proclaimed upscale classy place...with a dress code. Yes, in North Chuck. No jeans, shorts, t-shirts or flip-flops. It soon closed.

So now I am able to enjoy two unique local pizza places in the North Charleston area, this new one and EVO's on East Montague, off Park Circle.

Smile and say CHEESE.

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

In my photo darkroom....

In this, the computer age, most people have a digital camera. Or even a cellphone that takes digital pictures.

The Kodak Company has made film for a 100 years - and was stunned by Polaroid for a while - but continued making film for cameras and X-Rays and other uses but eventually even they conceded that digital rules.

Film is basically a roll of celluloid coated with silver that changes when light hits it and, of course, color film and processing is a bit more complicated.

Machines were made to collect the leftover silver in the developing process and newspapers, photo processors and other large companies made a tidy sum from this reclaimed treasure. But, now it's all mainly digital.

But, back in the 1950s when I got into photography, I learned you could buy simple equipment to process and develop your black and white film "at home." Just find a dark spot to set up your photo lab. I worked in mine all through high school.

After you developed your film in total darkness, you put the negative into your enlarger and, under a yellowish "safe light," made enlargements on light sensitive photo paper. After sloshing them through several trays of chemicals you had mixed, you washed and dried them. Simple.

No more dropping off rolls of film at the neighborhood Walgreen's and waiting a week to come back by to pick up the envelope of small prints.

Now my education continues as I learn more about computers and Napster and Anti-Virus programs and blogging and iPods and Macs.

Oh, and being grateful I never bought any Kodak stock.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

My 101st Blog Posting = Newspaper Photography

When I started this blog a year and a half ago, it was to be an outlet for memories of my favorite times - mainly the 1960s - when I was a staff photographer for the San Diego Union and Evening Tribune.

This blog has wandered into other topics and times but the 1960s were great.

Oh, that period was also when I got out of the Marines, moved to California, graduated from college, got married and had 2 children. It was a very busy decade.

In fact, my son and daughter found themselves in print quite a few times.

When you're not covering breaking news stories, fires and accidents, there's a LOT of photo space to fill in a daily metropolitan newspaper.

In earlier blog entries I showed photos of a Senator and several Presidents I covered for the paper, and my "QUIET" photo that ran as a full page in LIFE magazine but I don't think I mentioned how much humor popped up in the newspaper.

Between "real" news, a staff photographer was expected to keep his eyes open and react quickly to a photo opportunity. On very rare occasions, we would pose some photos for a desired effect but the real fun was to come across something that was truly funny. The man I saw taking his dog for a walk is a good example.

I pulled up behind him, took a few shots, then caught his attention, stopped him and got the information I needed for a caption. This was not a photo showing a spectacular event but it drew a laugh or two. It WAS funny.

At least to my eye ...back in the sixties.

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Black tie dinner.... Halloween??

Sure my tux was quite a few years old but I had kept it away from hungry moths.

With the passage of years, it was just a "little" out of style but, for some reason, nobody mentioned that fashion faux pas during the Advertising Federation dinner I attended a short time before I retired from The Post and Courier.

Just the opposite, people came by all evening to compliment me and make comments on my outfit. Several snapped pictures.

The annual awards for excellence in advertising was held in Mt. Pleasant, at the Shrine Club, with a theme of Circus - Under The Big Top or something similar. It was February and no costume shops had any circus props for rent but, after a few stops, I found a stick on "clown nose" at a party store.

I waited until I entered before I glued it in place since it would have made quite an interesting Mt. Pleasant Police Department mug shot if I had been stopped on the way.

I slowly realized that no other guests had tried to embrace the theme.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Cute Photos Of Cats....

As bloggers well know, when all else fails and you don't have anything really worth writing about, pull out shots of your cat doing something cute. Or unusual.

Wally Jr. really does like to hang out next to the shower when it is in use. He'll even walk inside afterwards while the floor is still wet. Of course, I've never turned it on while he is in there. Really, I haven't. That just would not be right. Plus, cats find ways to get even.

A shower is a human thing and not something a cat would use. They don't like water. They prefer to avoid water. That is, if it might get them wet.

Mine has learned that water is available even when I am not at home.
Hmmm...maybe I can get rid of the litter box?

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Sektember means ...Oktoberfest!

Munich is a great place to visit ANY time of the year, especially in September when Oktoberfest is celebrated.

But, since my 1979 business trip to Germany was in mid-October, I was pleased to find the beer tents still were in place, the oomp-pah-pah bands still played and prices had dropped.

A typical "tent" holds about 7,000 people and there is a staff of 5,000 to keep the beer flowing and the delicious food coming from the kitchens at a steady pace.

I was the Director of Tourism for Missouri and was attending an international gathering of tour and travel officials and we were taken all around Munich - the Bavarian happy place - compared to dour Berlin up north.

If you want one beer, you hold up your thumb. They kept bringing me two because I did the American thing of holding one finger in the air. I am a VERY slow learner.. Prost!

One of our group, a young Missouri co-ed on a European tour, had enough nerve - or enough beer - to accept the baton and lead the band. She had a very supportive listening audience.

Did I mention Prost?

(Full disclosure: the lady with 12-pack is from online)

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

An "H" Season Suggestion...

My buddy just bought his apartment when it turned condo then ripped out the carpets, had tile, marble and hardwood floor installed and totally redecorated the place with all new furniture. Whew.

His new 5 foot hang-on-the-wall plasma TV just arrived so now he is ready for me to bring over my digital camera and document everything for insurance purposes. Well, duh. I had not done that for my own house so I did. All day yesterday.

I even took a picture of the digital camera. Used a mirror, set it on a tiny tripod and pressed the timer. Of course, it shows I was using a "nonaC" camera.

To be complete, I charged up the batteries and dusted off my digital video camcorder and taped a walk through the house, each room, from front to back, zooming in for details on important items. I went outside and opened the doors of the shed that houses the riding mower and gas generator. I remembered to include the claw foot tub that is stored downstairs after a bath remodeling project. Those guys worked hard!

I'll store MY disc at his house and HIS will be kept here. Sure beats writing it all down.

I'll have to explain there is only ONE orange striped cat regardless of how many times he shows up in the photographic record. Wonder if Wally Jr. is covered with Total Cat Replacement?

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Saturday, September 01, 2007

Baby Boomers and The Internet....

Someone I just met said "you look familiar. Are you somebody famous?"

Since I knew I was a legend (in my own mind) I modestly brushed aside the idea that anyone else would think so. We soon discovered she had seen the article in the Humana national magazine that went to its 800,000 members.

The Summer issue had outlined various ways seniors are using the internet and the section that described my blogging experience included a picture of me at my computer.

I had blogged here before how I was interviewed by phone by a writer in New York and was visited by a local photographer the editors hired to show me "in action" at the keyboard. It was fun being on the other side of the camera for a change.

A cousin I had not seen in 50 years also had contacted me after seeing the article and now we e-mail back and forth. She plans a trip to Charleston the end of the year.

To see Folly Beach again.

(Click on article to enlarge)

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