Sunday, October 12, 2008


Rio Grande Village Campground, Big Bend National Park, Texas March 1981

That silver land yacht was owned proudly by Polly and Tom Kitchell of Bushkill, Pennsylvania. These nice folks were snow birders -- south in the winter and back north in the summer. During my spring trip to Big Bend that year, I tried with only a few successes to photograph owners of Airstream travel trailers enjoying their lifestyle with their home on wheels as a background. Sadly only a few would submit to my request. Polly and Tom were nice enough to just stay put in their folding chairs and be amused by my head under the dark cloth and my pretty little Wista on a tripod. I took their name and address (it's still written on the envelope the negative is filed in), and promised to mail the a copy when I got back home. It was mid-summer before I mailed the image, and much to my surprise the package was returned to me as undeliverable at that address. I sort of forgot about it because by that time life was getting complicated what with our daughter Libbie getting ready to be born. One thing lead to another, Libbie got born, we moved to the east coast in '83, etc., etc. It was only in early '93 after we had moved from New Jersery to central Massachusetts, and not be successful in finding house we liked right away, I was passing time going through some boxes of files (we were still living out of boxes because all "our stuff" was still in storage) when I ran across the photo mailer with the image of the Kitchells lounging in front of their Airstream still inside. Not having much to do at that time, and now with the internet fully involved in our lives, I did a simple phone book search for the name Kitchell in Bushkill, PA. There was a P. Kitchell listed which I promptly called. Long story short, Polly told me that Tom had died of a massive heart attact about a month after I made that image, and that she had moved away from Bushkill. But her fortunes had brought her back only the month before I called. I told her about the returned picture, and told her I would gladly mail it to her again. After she received the image, I got a very long detailed nice letter telling me about their life on the road, their family, and how happy she was to have the image. It turned out the be the last image made of Tom. She said could now smile when looking at the image of her of Tom enjoying the lifestyle they were living then.

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