Probably the oldest photo I have record of, sadly only a duplicate of the original image. Nevertheless fortunate to have this. I do not have much information about this photograph, other than knowing that the subject is my great-great grandmother on an island in Greece, possibly Chios. I know that she lived a very long life, I believe it was approximately 107 years. What little information I have, I recall from a conversation with my grandmother on one or two occasions. Obviously I do not have a date but I find this to be an amazing image and certainly an inspiration.
We (My parents and my grandmother included) relocated to a fairly quiet area of the Bronx when I was about 12 years old. Due to the circumstances at the time with my parents living in a small apartment, I was given the option of moving into an apartment in this building with my grandmother. One of the benefits was having my own room as an adolescent which included a sorrowful series of ongoing interests that varied month by month. I attempted to learn to play drums though I was rejected by most of the building tenants and neighbors. I eventually encountered an elderly neighbor who disliked the sound of the drums enough to constantly notify the building management. Nevertheless it was here where I began to discover the existence of music and developed a more serious interest in photography.
I dwelled in this space throughout high school and college, and more than likely constantly challenged my grandmother's patience with loud music, drums, eccentric friends, unusual attempts at "interior decoration."
As far back as I can remember, there was the image and subsequent memory of "Uncle Gus." This photo taken from a newspaper clipping, was among the many similar images my grandmother (his mother) cherished. I recall having seen his actual high school yearbook and reading his words "To fight for my country." World War II was a terrible time for so much of humanity. So much death and suffering, starvation and mourning. Uncle Gus enlisted in the army right after his high school graduation. Because he was only 17, his mother reluctantly agreed to sign the necessary papers to allow him to join. Tragically he never returned, a memory my grandmother never forgot.
My first cameras were an 8mm Keystone and a great big box containing a tiny Kodak Brownie "Holiday Flash" and all the equipment necessary for lighting and film development. I recall jumping for joy when I viewed my first self-processed image including fingerprints, dust marks, and faded grey edges! The joy of my chemical darkroom work had begun!