Sunday, August 30, 2015

Clearing skies, my school, re-purposed.

It rained off and on last night, which cleared the skies somewhat. For the first time in a couple weeks the mountains only a mile or two away were visible, and one's eyes didn't burn just from being outside.

My old school or You can go home again, and it's even better

My elementary school, St. Francis around 1953, I'm at the very far right, my sister is way off to the left side. 

My school now: 

I can now have a beer in the same general vicinity that surly nuns whacked my knuckles. Perhaps time does heal all wounds, eh?  

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A request we're gonna get right on........

Left by a visitor/guest at the main lodge in Yellowstone:

I'm assuming this person is also one who want's to take a 'selfie' next to a bison.  No problem, step right up sir. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Black and Whites from another time.

I recently did a post about my time living in Japan, working in Hiroshima and living in a small town nearby, Otake.  When I got back home from visiting in LA I dug around and found some pictures of that time, mostly 8X10, and in an album undisturbed since around 1968.  It was impossible to remove the pictures, the album had sticky pages that had firmly cemented the pictures to the page. I was able to scan them with some success.  Here is a sample:

This was taken at one of the doors inside my house, the girl, alas, was not smiling for me, but for my friend Bob who roomed with me for several months. A picture of him will follow in a bit. 

This statue of Siddhartha was in the garden around my house, enclosed by a wall and pagoda gate. The garden was a pleasant and quiet place, escaping from the hustle of the village just outside the wall.

Bob, in the same garden, after one of the infrequent snows we'd get in the winter.  Behind him another statue, of a 7 story pagoda can be seen, along with the almost bonsai pines. 

Two other pictures taken in the garden.  At this time I was toying with the idea that I'd be a professional photographer. I had just seen the movie 'Blow-up', directed by M. Antonioni, one of his first films. It's one of the few movies of that era that have actually kept it's interest to audiences. 

Following are other pictures taken around Japan that year, 1968. 

A feudal-era castle in Osaka

The entrance pathway to a Shinto shrine and park 

Fountains at the Imperial Palace, Toyko

The famous and often-photograph of the Torii at Miyajima.

Ok, this one is my one photography claim to fame:
it was published in Stars and Stripes, Asia edition.

These last ones are people I photographed there one time or another. 

This girl was being photographed by several people 
in a park in Hiroshima when I happened by. I started 
taking a couple shots when one of the other photographers
told me they were a photo club, and had paid this woman 
to model for them. I apologized and left. 

I was walking in Tokyo when I saw a group of 
what had to be paparazzi taking pictures of this young
girl walking a dog (you can see the leash). I have no idea
who she was, or what it was all about. She's looking rather
disdainfully at the group of photo takers.  

A nurse I worked with. 

I don't think these last two were taken at the same time. 
And in truth, I'm not sure what I was thinking when I took the shot. 
Two salarymen, the last possibly retired, napping. 

Well, I had two more to add, but apparently I've reached a limit of some kind for loading pictures. 

Ah, figured out how to do it. 

A demonstration near the closest military base, I happened 
to be passing through. 

Taken while I was waiting for a ferry to Hokkaido, the 
northernmost island in the Japanese archipelago. 
I have no idea, she didn't stir in the 5 minutes or so I
was watching. Clearly there was something on her mind. 
I hope it came out well for her.  

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Hiroshima and the limits of memory

A long time ago, going on 50 years now, I lived in Japan. While on R&R from Vietnam I met a researcher working at the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission in Hiroshima, Japan. He and I hit it off and spent a couple of days drinking and talking, and at the end he offered me a job when I got out of the military.

I don't think much about that time now, it's eclipsed by the times before and after it, and has been relegated to the dustbin of my memories. It should, I suppose, occupy a more prominent spot in the hierarchy of  the events of my life, but somehow it's escaped attention, or at least I've not given it it's due.

The recent 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima made me think of that time; but here in the numbing cocoon of food and sun that is LA, it required an effort to bring it back. I did have some photo's from the time I'd scanned over the years and put in a forgotten folder on my ancient laptop to help me.

I had scant Japanese language when I went there, and was forced to learn quickly; the department I worked in, the laboratory, had no english speakers. I worked as an 'Igor'....I don't know if any of you know what that is in lab-speak, but it was the only job I was remotely qualified for.

Over the several months I was there I met several survivors of the blast, it was only a little over 20 years since the event. I made friends with co-workers, not as many as I would have liked, but I was little prepared for the Japanese mind set that valued privacy above all else, and formality was the common denominator. It did not lend itself to quick friendships.

I live in a small town/village several kilometers up the coast of the inland sea, a place called Otake.

I took the train, something of a commuter into Hiroshima to work, first 3 then 4 days a week. 

The buildings were all Quonset huts, albeit large ones, and I understand they exist today.

It was over 20 years since the blast, but keloid scars were still apparent in abundance among the daily people who came for treatment and research. The most common disease we saw at the time was leukemia and various gastrointestinal diseases.

On weekends and frequent small vacations I took there I went to Peace Park often, the park at the epicenter of the blast. A museum with photos and artifacts is there, with several monuments dedicated to the victims. 

If you look closely you can see strands hanging from the underside of this structure; they are 'peace origami', cranes, made then by local children in memory of the thousands of children killed in the blast. 

When I took this one above, I didn't realize just how a common a picture it would be, the view of the dome left standing after the blast viewed through the arch.  It seems that it's been taken millions of times. 

I'm not interested in the discussion of whether or not dropping the bomb was a proper thing to do given the times and the war causalities on both sides. It doesn't matter to me whether it was justified or not. The fact is it happened, and we did it. We opened that door, that pandora's box, and it will, and should, forever haunt us and the rest of humanity.  

Friday, August 7, 2015

Debate, The Aftermath

Don't even have to enlarge these.

Have to remember back to Irangate and Ollie North for this one above