Taking Another Look

Jul 8, 2012 | 2 comments

Our Stairwell

The most important– and, for me, the most challenging – aspect of doing a book for Arcadia Press is fulfilling their photographic requirements.  Arcadia publicantions are all about pictures and since I’ve ‘written’ two books for them already, I know that very well.  Even so, I am struggling with my current project.

Somehow, I thought that finding images for Legendary Locals of the Long Beach Peninsula would be fairly straightforward.  After all, I have all the peninsula people past and present  from which to choose, unlike the choices available for my previous Arcadia books.   The book about the IR&N and the book about historic Oysterville were fairly narrow in their focus.  Not so, this one.

Both the ‘legendary’ and the ‘local’ aspects of this particular book are pretty loosey-goosey.  People can be considered legendary because of their contributions to the community, because of some quirky or interesting aspect of their personalities, or just because they command respect and attention.  Locals can include people who have lived here always or just for a short time or even people who began here and made their mark somewhere else.

“Piece of cake,” thought I.  I was anticipating that most people would have plenty of pictures that they could place at my disposal – of themselves or of their forebears or of old family friends.  Obviously, I came to that conclusion erroneously.

The typical response when I ask is, “I think I have something around here somewhere… I’ll have to look and get back to you.”  Bless the people who do!  But, typically, I have to nag.

I think my initial error was in imagining the world of portraits through the filter of my own life.  It’s an error in judgment that plagues most of us at one time or another.  In this case, it just never occurred to me that people wouldn’t have photographs close at hand.

In our household, there are family photographs EVERYwhere – on the walls, on the mantles, on the bureaus.  They go back to my great-great grandmother and forward to two generations beyond me.  Most weren’t legendary, of course, except perhaps in the minds of their nearest and dearest.  But there are plenty to choose from which doesn’t seem to be universally true.

My fear, of course, is that this book will end up being more about whose photographs I can get, rather than whose photographs I really want.  I tell myself to be patient.  It’s early days yet.  But I do have a lot of crossed fingers – about Shorty Wright and Mary Lou and P. J. McGowan and Dr. Goulter and…


  1. brigid

    Some of the most legendary people I know might not be the ones you are thinking of, but here’s who I wish I had taken a picture of. Mary Lou, Walking William, and Henry Hersey,

    • sydney

      Yep! They’re all on my “list” too, but unless I can get a good a close-up,(not a dot on a Loyalty Day Float) photo of them, I can’t include them. Can you help me out?


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *