Mementos 1

Mementos 1

[I’m preparing for mitral valve surgery in November26, 2016.  One of the instructions is to bring mementos with me.  The best way to do this without hiring a moving truck (Diana’s suggestion) is to put some of what I would bring with me on this blog.  I can then access it on my phone.  That is my goal here]


In 1966 I made friends with Jerry Ginsburg when we were both medical students at U.S.C.  Jerry lived not far from campus, and would commute on his motor scooter. One day his scooter stopped abruptly as it malfunctioned, and it catapulted Jerry over the handlebars onto his elbows breaking both his arms.  Nevertheless, the patched up and encasted student made it to class every day and ultimately became a physician and cardiologist in Salinas.  He was fluent in Spanish and had spent time in Puerto Rico in the Peace Corps, and he became active in the Student Health Project as well, spending one summer working with farmworkers in Salinas.  Jerry was also a wonderful photographer who maintained a darkroom in a kind of storage shed in the back of the apartment where he lived.  My memory of that space fades after 50 years.  But what I do remember is that Jerry taught me how to develop negatives and print pictures from them.  The latter is what delighted me and I spent many years, starting with learning from Jerry and later on my own at the Los Angeles Photography Center, playing with photos, trying to get them just right, experimenting with different papers and textures.  Mostly I printed from my own negatives.  But this one was from a negative that Jerry took from within the Watts towers, a magical place I would return to many times and would think about often.  This photo makes me think of Jerry, his indomitable personality, his generous nature, and his concern for other human beings. Enter a caption


I went camping for the first time in 1966.  That summer I worked in the Student Health Project in Planada, a small town seven miles east of Merced, California.  Sitting astride the Route #140 highway, the town looked east into the peaks of Yosemite National Park.  One weekend my coworker, dental student Dave Seeger, suggested we head up to Yosemite, so at the last minute I borrowed a sleeping bag and we drove to the floor of Yosemite Valley (you could still do this) and found a place on the ground to throw our sleeping bags (the campground — no longer there — actually was not completely full).  After that I lived, breathed to go camping, and Sequoia became my destination of choice. I never went on long, mountain man trips, never a primitive camper.  But walking among the giants of Giant Forest Village, climbing to Emerald Lake, examining the flora and fauna I would stumble across delighted me every summer while I lived in Southern California.  After my first encounter with camping I did go shopping for some gear.  I spent something like $75 on a pair of Timberland boots (way more than I could afford), bought a serious backpack which could haul 40 to 60 lbs of gear, including the little axe pictured here.  This trip to Sequoia was taken with Ed Wong, my lab partner in medical school, who took this photo with my camera.  Some years ago I knew I would never again be able to do the kind of climbing I did when I was younger.  And I’ve always known that this picture of mountain-man-me was something of a fraud! But I’ve never given up the enjoyment that being outdoors, among the big trees, engenders.   Enter a caption


The year this picture was taken, 1968, I owned an MGB  convertible. The school year had ended, it was late June before work began for me.  Ed Wong sat in the passenger seat of the car.  Packed in the trunk, on the back of the trunk, and low behind the seats was our gear for the trip — sleeping bags, back packs, a pup tent, cooking utensils, food, and a jug of Gallo wine.  On top of the gear in the “rumble seat” behind us clung Nancy Wimberley (now Shinno), all of us students at U.S.C. medical school.   We drove from Los Angeles up the grapevine to Route #198 which we took east through Visalia, then on past Lemon Cove to Porterville and into the Sierras.  Reaching Sequoia, we passed Giant Forest Village to camp in Lodgepole Campground, 6800 feet above sea level.  Early next morning, after breakfast, we headed to Wolverton, where the trail led up toward Heather, Aster, Emerald and finally Pear Lake at 9,300 feet. The trail took us along the wall overlooking the Tokopah Valley, reaching a narrow stretch along what is called “The Watchtower.”  Ed remembers this stretch totally differently from me.  He remembers being totally freaked out by the height and narrow path and thinks I helped him make it through.  On the other hand I remember being totally freaked out by the height and the narrow path, and that Nancy and Ed were my models for making it across.  Whichever (or perhaps both) is true, we made it to Pear Lake and camped by its side, where there was still snow on the ground and the temp got below freezing at night.  Ed and I slept in our bags outside, yielding the limited protection of the tent to Nancy.  I took this photo of Ed, positioning the Livingston Gallo wine jug prominently to emphasize our commitment to the outdoor life.  The white stuff in the pot in the foreground is snow.  We are camped lakeside.  This is one of the most memorable trips, walks, I have taken in Sequoia or elsewhere, and I return to it often in my memory!  Enter a caption