Archive for the ‘That 70s Show’ Category

Packing Pistons in the Past

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

Southern Airways Martin 404

Propellers powered by a pair of Pratt & Whitney radial piston engines, a 1976 trip to my grandparents included aircraft that had more in common with WWII bombers than with the Bombardier I’ll be boarding on Tuesday. One of a series of small prop planes that constituted the last stage of our Easter or Christmas visits to the Gulf coast, including one especially exciting but only dimly remembered trip in a DC-3, the Southern Airways Martin 4-0-4 pictured above delivered us to what was then a very small Ft Myers airport.

This high school era image (see That 70’s Show) is impossible to date, but I found it in a lackluster set of Florida shots in the same envelope with some Plus-X that could be positively dated to Spring 1976. This was shot on Panatomic X, a surprising and counterproductive choice for a night image, given that it was a low speed film (ASA 32). 

If it was 1976, my SLR would have been a Hanimex Practica with a built in meter, but fully manual settings.  If it was 1977, then it would have been a much sweeter Canon AE-1 with aperture priority automatic shutter.  Both had 50mm f/1.8 lenses.  As is still my wont, I am drawn to airplanes and night shots, so I’m sure that confronted with this classic scene, I did the best I could to hand hold with whatever was loaded in my camera.  35mm film didn’t come with adjustable ISO.

Today’s modern jetport feels less romantic, less exciting, and certainly less innocent than a small regional airport did 35 years ago.  Having long lost most  I no longer feel comfortable standing on an airport tarmac taking pictures of planes (on the assumption that the airport authorities aren’t especially comfortable about me and my camera).

Digitized with my Nikon 35mm film scanner, this underexposed image cleaned up nicely—after some Photoshop surgery to remove the worst of the mildew damage.  It evokes feelings of a different time; a time that was ending as my time as an air traveller began.

Who’s YOUR daddy?

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

On 21 May, 1978, a Thursday night, the parents of the graduating Bay High School seniors thoroughly spoofed their own kids and the school faculty in a comedy variety show.

With dads dressed as cheerleaders, and moms in hockey and football jerseys, it was a hilarious, and sometimes politically incorrect performance.

This was an annual tradition, giving the parents a chance to honor their kids’ accomplishments and activities. Guests were not invited–only the graduating seniors were there (no underclass girlfriends allowed), although some members of the Class of ’79 performed during the intermission (see the end of my photo gallery).

After Elizabeth and I finished our European adventure and moved back into our American house, we started unpacking the boxes of stuff that we’d put into storage in December 2000.  I found another box of negatives and contact prints from That 70s Show.  It included a few of my favorite shots that weren’t in the negatives I’d rescued from my parents’ crawlspace in 2006, it included some of my earliest pictures from the 60s and 70s, and it included a few surprises.  The best surprise was Parents Night.

Who remembered that instead of sitting there and enjoying the show, I actually took 5 rolls of film?  I certainly didn’t.  What did I even have in mind for these images? The contact prints are marked up a bit, suggesting that I might have done something with these pictures, but I don’t remember printing any of them. Maybe a few of my mom’s friends got some copies, but I can’t imagine that very many pictures circulated.  I’m sure that most of the parents and class of ’78 have never seen these.

There is a sort of old fashioned charm to these images, taken from an earlier and simpler time when disco reigned and men still wore neckties. For me, the turn of the generational clock adds personal poignancy to these pictures. After sitting  in a time capsule for 32 years, these memories reappear at during a life phase when most of  my peers have just seen our own children through high school. While I don’t recognize many of these parents, I do feel connected to them for multiple reasons. As we celebrate their 50th anniversaries and 80th birthdays, I know that many of these proud parents are no longer with us (indeed, some of their children are gone, too).

Somewhat uncharitably, I can’t help thinking that most of these people look old. I have to chuckle over that, because most of them were my own age, or even younger than I am now, and only a few of them would have been 10 years older than my half century. Their clothing and hair wasn’t the only aesthetic of the age–people choose to respond differently to age in different ages. Perhaps one generation has done that more gracefully than the other, but I’m not at all certain which.


32 years ago, we were naive and innocent, and many of the things that mattered to us seem foolish or trivial now.  We’d conquered over a dozen years of public school, and we were ready to conquer the world. Our parents knew that. They admired our youth and were maybe just a bit jealous of our energy. They recognized our enthusiasm, supported our passions, and sighed over our lack of ambition. They dressed up and acted foolish on stage one night to demonstrate their love for us, and to show us how proud they were.

To me, these images are a treasure, and I hope that my classmates are touched. Photographers don’t take pictures for their own pleasure–like any art, the true satisfaction comes through an emotional response in your audience.  I’m glad that I found these pictures while some of the parents are still with us, and maybe there are some grand children who will get a kick out of them also.

The complete set of just over 200 pictures can be found in the Parents Night gallery on my web site. Click on a thumbnail to view a picture, and click on that image to view an even larger version. My suggestion is that you use the slideshow feature available through a link at the bottom of the screen (click on the icon at the right of the menu bar to see it in full screen).

Now that I’ve found these negatives, scanned them, Photoshopped them, and uploaded them, I’m really curious about just who all these people are.  Please put your comments in the photo gallery.

Everything is publicly viewable, although I’ve asked Google and Bing not to search and index these images.   Enjoy!

Art meets life

That 70s Show

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

Heiser_Bay09-21.jpg.jpgIn the summer of 2006, my parents renovated the basement of the house they moved into the day after my June 1978 high school graduation. I was given strict instructions to remove ANYthing that I wanted to keep. In addition to my much beloved HO scale race cars, I found a slightly musty cardboard Kodak photo paper box. It contained a stack of contact prints and negatives from pictures I’d taken from 1976-1978.

My English and European friends aren’t fully aware of how sophisticated many of the extra-curricular activities are at an American high school. In addition to sports and music, journalism is also considered and important activity, participation in which can not only lead to a career, but it also helps develop citizens who are well prepared to participate in a democracy. Bay High, my high school in Bay Village, Ohio, has traditionally had a strong journalism program. When I was in school, we not only had a very competent yearbook, we also had a multi-page newspaper, printed on newsprint by a printer on a weekly basis.

Starting my junior year (11 grade), yearbook adviser Judy Coolidge decided that Bay High was going to have the best yearbook in the country. She chose and motivated an editorial staff of talented juniors and seniors, and set them to work over the summer to develop a theme and to choose a layout. They chose to name the yearbook “The Whole Bay Catalog”, as a pastiche of Stewart Brand’s “Whole Earth Catalog.” My senior year of High School, the yearbook was entitled “Where Do You Go To Find.” Planning went into great detail on the chapters, pages, and even page design (‘magazine layout’). Although there was always opportunity to squeeze in good shots, much of my work for the yearbook consisted of pictures taken to order, to fit into the pre-planned spreads on specific topics. It was a fantastic experience, and 30 years later, I still enjoy photography, but have never found anything as photographically purposeful and challenging as being part of the journalistic team that turned out 2 of the US’ top-10 yearbooks.

Finding a cache of negatives from such a fun and interesting part of my life was a thrill. These are not just souvenirs of my teen years–this is an important body of creative work. I crawled out of the crawlspace, and spent the next several hours poking through the negatives and prints. It was obvious that they had suffered a bit from their lack of care. I went out the next day to buy an archival storage box and acid-free envelopes, and spent another couple hours taking the negatives out of the cheap and yellowing office envelopes that I’d ‘temporarily’ used when I was a kid, placing the negatives into carefully labeled envelopes. When I was done, my archival storage box was almost full. I counted close to 2600 images.

Most of my favorite shots were there, including some that I’d won prizes for. Unfortunately, some were missing, including a couple that were very important to me. There were also a lot of pictures that I’d taken just for fun, or for practice, including color shots of hockey, baseball and tennis. In some cases, I’ve got contact prints without negatives, and those pictures can be recovered, although the quality is low.

Over a three year period of time, I’ve been laboriously scanning, restoring, and uploading the pictures to a web site. In early 2007, I first unveiled 600 pictures on a commercial photo sharing web site (pbase). During the following several years, I continued to restore and upload photos, sending email about the new additions to a growing list of almost 100 former students, parents and teachers. The lion’s share of the photos were done by the summer of 2008 for 20 minute slideshow for our 30th reunion. There are still some photos that have never been seen–mostly several hundred pictures of hockey. I’m finishing those up now, and uploading them to a gallery on my new, PERMANENT web site–this one.

Update 2013:

Most, but not all of these images have been scanned, some have been Photoshopped, and at least all the hockey images, and what other sports images I have, are uploaded. There are still more to go, and as I upload them, I’ll put a notice on the Secret Bay Village page on Facebook.

When we moved back to the USA from England, I found another stash of negatives that I’d forgotten about. It contained all the favorites I’d been missing, Middle School shots, and even what I remembered as my earliest image, taken with a Brownie box camera at the Cleveland Zoo in 1969.  Another blog post describing my last high school shoot, which pictures I don’t believe anybody at BHS ever saw (but they will want to see) can be found at Who’s YOUR Daddy?

A page of some of my favorite high school images, for those who don’t want to wade through several thousand photos.

A small but hopefully growing set of photos from Bay Middle School (many more yet to be scanned from the second stash, including the long missing photos of Asylum).