Thanksgiving 2011

Family was my Number One Thing to be Thankful for in 2010, and it tops the list again in 2011.

The Steinhoff Family from Florida, Missouri, Colorado and Oklahoma managed to make it back to Cape to celebrate Mother’s 90s Birthday Season. Son Matt shot this group photo. (Click on any image to make it larger.)

He had everything set up earlier in the morning to do the photo in the back yard, but the sun moved and the shadows were bad. He shuffled us over to the side yard where the light was better, but still spotty. He worked fast, mainly because so many of his subjects were young and prone to crankiness and because so many of his subjects were old and he didn’t know how many takes he’d have left.

Matt’s last perfect family portrait

He took much longer to shoot this one of the Florida branch on Easter Sunday 2009. In fact the video I recorded of him arranging everyone, running to get into the photo before the self-timer tripped, checking the camera display, yelling at various of us for minor infractions, then redoing it time and time again, runs 7:46, something that a couple of commenters have complained about. They didn’t get it: it was SUPPOSED to be long. That’s why it’s titled How to Shoot a Family Portrait (In the Real World).

Here’s where you go to see still photos of the extravaganza and / or subject yourself to a 7:46 min video.

They’re both iPad proficient

I’m thankful that my grandsons have had a change to meet and get to know their Great-Grandmother. Malcolm gets to see his great-grandmother only once or twice a year, but they’re close enough that she can kibitz his computer game. There’s not that big a gap between 90 and seven, I suppose, when you both know how to use iPads. Malcolm is Matt and Sarah’s son.

Graham – the newest addition

Mother journeyed to Florida shortly after Graham was born in February (remember our Road Trip back). Graham doesn’t know a stranger. I have a snippet of video right after this still shot was taken that shows him breaking out in a huge grin and reaching for her.

Both of my sons keep in regular contact with their grandmother by phone calls and email. Even though they didn’t grow up in Cape, they feel the same attraction to the area that I do. Graham belongs to Adam and Carly.

Missing from the photo, but not forgotten

Even though Matt wasn’t much older than this when Dad died in 1977 – and Adam hadn’t even been born yet – both boys have heard so many stories and memories that it’s almost like they grew up with him.

Dad may not be in the photograph at the top of the page, but he’s still in the picture for us.

How to Check for Plumbing Leaks

Regular readers of this blog have been treated to a series of non-Cape stories about the adventures of owning an older home in Florida.

Two days ago, you heard about our Termite Travails.

Years ago, I worked on a special edition of The Palm Beach Post called “Crests of Hope, Troughs of Despair,” which chronicled the Cuban Boatlift and the plight of Haitian refugees. Yesterday’s post was a lot like that, starting with “fits like socks on a flamingo,” and ending up with “SHUT THE WATER OFF!!!!”

This morning, while Wife Lila was getting ready to go to church, her brother, John Perry, was installing the connections for the washer hookup. He wanted to have someone standing by the hookup to look for leaks while he was out at the street turning on the main. Since that’s a pretty good distance, I volunteered to stand in the living room to relay the word from Lila that all was good.

The last thing John said as he headed to the front door was, “I left the faucet on outside, so if you hear water running, don’t worry.”

A relay person wasn’t needed

As soon as John opened the main valve, I’m pretty sure you folks in Cape heard Lila screaming. It seems that John had left the faucets open to let steam escape when he sweated the fittings. He forgot to close them for the test. The water came out full force right at Lila.

I’ll be ready to pull the plug

The next nearest experience like this was when Lila and I shared an old house in Gastonia, N.C., with Chuck Beckley,  a photographer I brought from Athens, OH. We needed to hook up the ice maker on our refrigerator, but I couldn’t find the main shutoff valve.

Chuck, you drill a quarter-inch hole in the cold water supply pipe, then we’ll stick the ice maker tap into the hole. A little water won’t hurt anything because we’re in an unfinished basement. I’ll keep my hand on the electrical cord back here at the receptacle in case the drill shorts out from the water.” See, a good supervisor always thinks about the safety of his workers.

You’d be surprised at how far water under 40 to 60-psi will shoot through a quarter-inch hole. You’d be even MORE surprised at how much water can come gushing out of two faucets aimed at eye-level.

All is forgiven

Just to show that there were no hard feelings, Lila quickly ran over to John to give him a big hug. The fact that she was soaking wet with cold water very quickly became apparent to John. She was sharing more than the love.

How do you shoot pictures like this?

Some of you may wonder how it’s possible to quickly capture photos like these.

It’s all part of the going to special photojournalism classes at schools like Ohio University where you learn how to quickly make the right choices and decisions. I recall one test question that asked, “You see a man jump off a bridge. You have a camera in one hand and a rope in the other. What do you do?”

The answer: it all depends on whether you have a wide angle or a telephoto lens on the camera. You may have to change lenses before you can shoot.

Actually, I WAS confronted with a jumper on a bridge once. You can read about my experience on the Blue Heron Bridge here.

SEMO’s Capaha Arrow Turns 100

Southeast Missouri State University’s student paper, The Capaha Arrow, turned 100 on Feb.l, a Missourian story by M.D. Kittle pointed out. Despite what my kids might think, I wasn’t around to help put out the inaugural issue.

I know I had a lot of photos in The Arrow, but the 1966 and 1967 Sagamore yearbooks don’t list me as being on the newspaper staff.  The photo above shows the front page of the newspaper set in type at The Missourian’s print shop. The picture on the front page is one I took, and this image appeared in The Sagamore.

Journalism Class

I had W.W. Norris, the paper’s adviser, for Journalism at SEMO. It was an easy A. I don’t remember Mr. Norris as being a particularly inspiring instructor, but we got along fine. After I’d breezed through the class exercises, he’d come over and we’d trade newspaper stories.

I wish I could dredge up some fond memories of The Arrow, but I can’t think of any memorable photos I shot there.

Part of that was because I spent as little time as possible on campus. That drove poor Missourian Editor John Blue to distraction because I was ostensibly hired as Campus Correspondent. I have a number of memos from him pointing that out and asking when I was going to get around to actually writing about SEMO doings. He’d probably have fired me if I hadn’t worn so many other hats (so cheaply).

Chief Sagamore and The Sagamore are gone

I’ve already written about the exile of Chief Sagamore for the more politically correct Rowdy Redhawk. In fact, The Capaha Arrow has dropped the “Capaha” from it’s name. It’s just The Arrow these days.

Bill East wondered what happened to The Sagamore if Chief Sagamore was deemed inappropriate. I went to the official SEMO website, put “Sagamore” in the search box and was directed to “Fun Facts,” where I was told, “The Sagamore Yearbook is no longer in production. Southeast began the Sagamore in 1912 and in 1989 decided to no longer print a University yearbook.”

So, if the university hadn’t pulled the plug on it, The Sagamore would have celebrated its centennial in 2012.

Don’t dis the subdivision editor

Wife Lila worked on The Sagamore as a subdivision editor. She rejected a print from one of the staff photographers, who sassed, back, “Let’s see if YOU can do any better.”

That was a mistake. She marched right into the darkroom and showed him that she HAD learned something from all those hours looking over my shoulder.

I normally side with the photographer, but I’d have loved to have seen that little exchange.

Christmas at The Steinhoffs

Christmas was always a big deal at our house, as the 1966 photo above shows. The Christmas tree was always set up in the basement recreation room, as they were called in those days.

When we boys got up, Dad and Mother (mostly Dad) would torture us by making us wait until everybody got ready to go downstairs. Grandmother, who moved slowly because of arthritis, was always the first to go down.

When I got into high school, and became the official photographic historian, I was given the go-ahead to go next.

Christmas 1969

I had been doing some photo books for class projects at Ohio University, so Lila and I decided to put together one of our first Christmas as married folks in 1969. Here’s what it looked like.

Each person generally got one big “special” present. They weren’t always under the tree. In fact, as we got older, Christmas morning turned out to be more like a scavenger hunt as we tracked down clues all over the house. Dad and Mother (mostly Dad) took great pleasure in watching us scurry.

Mother got a skillet

Mother would almost always get at least one utilitarian present. It might be a skillet like this, or a vacuum cleaner or a clothes dryer.

Then she’d get a “fun” gift

It might be a series of cards with clues as to what she should buy with the money enclosed or it might be an actual gift.

Boys got lots of small gifts

Dad loved to buy things. I think he started shopping for next Christmas on Dec. 26. We never did figure out were he squirreled away all the loot. In fact, sometimes, he’d forget what all he HAD bought. At the end of opening orgy, he’d look around, then disappear for a few minutes, returning with yet another box or two that he recognized were missing.

Grandmother liked “smell-good” stuff

She’d get cosmetics, books, scarfs and knick-knacks.

Dad lived for Christmas

He loved to watch us tearing into the packages.

We were too busy to see this

We kids were too busy ripping paper to watch the interplay between our parents. I don’t think I paid much attention to them until I shot this book.

Dad got harder to buy for

My junior or senior year in high school, Dad decided to quit smoking on New Year’s Eve without telling any of us. We didn’t know why he had gotten cranky for several weeks. He finally said that he threw all his cigarettes in the fireplace at the end of the year, but didn’t want to say anything until he was sure he had kicked the habit.

That complicated our gift-giving, though. That ruled out pipes, tobacco, pipe stands, lighters and other smoking accessories.

Taking inventory

Once we had everything unwrapped, it was time to concentrate on that “special” gift. David must have gotten a turntable this year. I remember some of my big presents being a Hallicrafters S-38E shortwave radio (Son Matt has it now), a Daisy pump action BB gun, an Argus Autronic 35 (my first 35mm camera) and, a few years later, a Pentax camera.

They proclaimed it a success

When it was all over, it’s obvious that they rated our morning a success.

Biggest trash day of the year

I read somewhere that the day after Christmas is the biggest trash day of the year. When I see all of the debris left over in 1966, I can believe it.

I should feel guilty about all of the stuff we got, but Grandson Malcolm is playing with some of the toys and Mother’s attic has a lot left for the next one.

I’m glad Lila and I put this together. It brings back a lot of good memories.