Penzel and Stone Are Appreciated

Cape Girardeau Optimist Club recognizes Jim Stone and Carolyn PenzelThe 1965 Girardot says that the Cape Girardeau Optimist Club honored Jim Stone and Carolyn Penzel during their first annual Youth Appreciation Week. Jim and Carolyn were given trophies.

The school was presented with a print of Wasserberger’s Sad Clown. Sounded like kind of a strange choice to me, but I barely made it out of Art 101 in college.

Who was Wasserberger?

A Google search turns up a Polish artist named Nathan Wasserberger, who was born in 1928 and is still alive, at least as recently as early 2009. He is best known for his nudes and darker works which reflect the horrors he saw when his family and friends were killed in World War II and he spent time in the Buchenwald concentration camp.

I wonder if the print is still kicking around.

Photographers hate grip ‘n grins

Carolyn Penzel recognized by Cape Girardeau Optimist ClubThe bane of every smalltown newspaper photographer – and what else is a high school but a small town? – is the presentation photo.

We hate grip n grins, three-people-and-a-piece of paper, check passings with a giant check, ribbon cuttings with giant scissors, ground breakings with gold-painted shovels with ribbons tied to the handles wielded by guys wearing suits and hard hats… Geez, the list could go on and on and I get the shivers just thinking about how many of those I’ve done.

You have to keep it in perspective

Jim Stone recognized by Cape Girardeau Optimist Club during Youth Appreciation WeekThe most important thing you had to keep in the back of your mind, though, was that this routine PITA assignment for you might be a big deal for the folks in the picture.

I remember when my Dad was awarded the Boy Scout’s Silver Beaver Award. It was the highest adult award you could get as an adult volunteer and Dad was very proud to have received it. The newspaper photographer did a lousy job of taking the picture; it was poorly set up and badly lit.

After that experience, I made it a point to do the absolute best job I could even if the assignment WAS a cliche.

After all, EVERYBODY is SOMEBODY’S mother, father, brother or sister.

Photographers get the last word

OK, I have to recall one check-passing I did in Athens, Ohio. A gaggle of local movers and shakers were making my life difficult by hamming it up and mugging the camera while I was shooting.

I ended up running a three-shot sequence of their antics.

The day it hit the streets, the publisher called me in and said that some of the people in the picture thought I had made them look “undignified. I promised them that I would talk with you about it. That concludes your obligatory chewing out,” he concluded.

15 Replies to “Penzel and Stone Are Appreciated”

  1. Thank you, Judge Hopkins.

    When I get up to the Ohio level of my photographic archeological dig, I’ll have to post the sequence that caused offense.

    The old rule was, “Don’t get into a pissing match with someone who buys ink by the barrel.” A corollary would be, “Don’t mess with a photographer with a loaded camera who isn’t afraid to use it.”

    1. Thanks for saving all the wonderful memories. I,m sure you must have learned to put up with
      all kinds of people. I enjoy your comments about the pictures ,people, and the times.

  2. Somewhere I may still have the photo that illustrates everything you can do wrong in a “Grip n Grin”.

    In ’66 they tried getting away from the standard presentation photo by posing the recipients on the Courthouse steps. Unfortunately, the focus was off and the cropping was way too loose.

  3. Carolyn,

    Yep, “grip ‘n’ grin sums it up perfectly.

    In Ohio we had a daily feature called Speaking of Women. It was a picture and a short story about a woman of note in the community. The only problem was that our circulation area was relatively sparsely populated. When you burn up five women a week, you start running out of decent subjects after a few years.

    The other photographer and I had an informal contest to see who could knock off a SOW portrait the quickest and still get a nice shot. I got to nailing them on the front porch before I even got into the house.

    We never really declared a winner. We decided to stop before one of us would cruise by the house at about 15 mph holding a camera out the window and honking the horn.

  4. Bob,

    For all of the fun we made of him, he sure gave us a lot of freedom to make some nice photos. I’m sure he took a lot of flack from folks that we never heard about.

  5. I found your site by doing a search for Nathan Wasserberger. My husband has several of his paintings and is a great admirer of his art. If, by any chance the Clown painting is ever available for sale, I would love to purchase it for my husband. He will be 76 on his next birthday, and I can’t think of a gift that he would appreciate more. We also have had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Wasserberger last spring in New York–a memory we will alwyas treasure. Thanks!

    1. Wow, I wish I could help you. I shot photos in Central Junior High School (our old senior high school) last fall. I did a quick look through the pictures and didn’t see it where I remembered it hanging 45 years ago.

      When the high school moved to a new building, a lot of things were discarded. I hope his painting wasn’t one of them.

      Give the school a call to see if it still exists and if they’d be willing to part with it. If they say it was thrown away, give a gasp and tell them it was worth a gazillion bucks.

      If they have it, make them an offer. Schools are strapped for cash these days. They might just take you up on it.

    2. I have a copy of the “Sad Clown” by wasserberger that I found in a storage unit and as long as I can find a value of what it is worth, than I would be interested in selling. Do you know how much a copy of it is worth?

      I can email pics if you would like.

      1. Cape Central’s librarian is an excellent scrounger who has managed to hang on to artifacts from all of the high schools that have had “Central” in their names.

        When I did a story on the library, I asked her if she knew what happened to Central’s “Sad Clown.” She wasn’t familiar with it and surmised that it might have ended up in a dumpster.

        BTW, if you come back here, press Ctrl-F5 to refresh your browser to see any new comments that have been left since your last visit.

        If you come up with a value, let us know.

    3. Dear Mrs. Taylor: I was doing a search of Nathan as well and saw your comment. I am sad to inform you that Nathan passed away this past Monday and was buried on Tuesday. I created a page for him on Facebook and if you have photographs of Nathan’s paintings, I would like to post them. If you could share memories of your meeting Nathan would be greatly appreciated. I was his friend for 38 years.



  6. I have a copy of the “Sad Clown” by Wasserberger, and found this site as I was trying to find a value on the work. The card that was in the back of the painting states: “This is a world famous masterpiece reproduced directly on genuine artist’s canvas” It then has “Sad Clown – Wasserberger” and a description of the painting. Does anyone know what a copy like the one discussed above is worth? I found mine in a storage unit of a deceased gentleman that had many works of art, mostly copies, and other valuable items, but I cannot find a value of the sad clown copy. It is also for sale, but I would really like to know the value before I sell so I don’t let it go well under value.

    If anyone is interested please respond, or feel free to email me at


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