01 July 2013

Your Pictures Are Ready - 31 Years Later

St John's County, 1982

I had somehow bullshitted my way into doing an independent study for photography my sophomore year of college as mentioned earlier here.  It's also important to note that I received an 'F' from my instructor. An adjunct who I believed to be communist because she didn't shave her legs.  Among other things.

In all honesty, I would have given me an F.  The photos I turned in were abysmal and the captions were something out of  Boy's Life.  All in all it was a last minute rush job that would become my signature in college.

A couple of weeks ago, I found six rolls of 35mm film buried in a shoe box. Three of the rolls are Kodachrome and three B&W Plus-X.  I had the Plus-X developed and the results were picked up Friday.   Two of the rolls were from 1982.  One, yearbook photos of a college play and this roll. The independent study of a night on patrol with a deputy sheriff and good friend, Pinky. 

Mark had red hair and was nicknamed, Pinky.  In my senior year of high school, where we met, Mark  had a blue '65 GTO and I had a '67 MGB.  We would race against each other but never for very long.  The Goat seemed to disappear in front of me on the flat Florida two lane hardtop.  While I went through the Police Standards course, I worked with Pinky at Pizza Hut where we made dildos out of thick and chewy dough and made fun of the Syrian owner's brother, who was incredibly stupid and horny but proudly proclaimed he never drank.

Long story short, I enlisted, did four years, got out and after a Summer as a security guard at Marine Land, started college. By my second year, I knew I wanted to write and I wanted to be a photographer.  Photo-journalist seemed a natural, in the way naive kids appoint themselves to a profession as if the very saying of it makes it true...but that's another story.  One of my photography instructors, Christina Hope, liked what I shot and even bought a photo of mine for an advertisement she did for a local auto parts store.  She pushed me to do an independent study and cleared my way.  Look fucking out, W. Eugene Smith.

I had met Pinky earlier that year.  He was working in the county jail and I shot some photos of an inmate who shot his wife.  Pinky had transferred to what was called Road Deputy, obviously a promotion, and he agreed to take me on patrol on a Friday night.  It was mostly drunks and a woman I had forgotten until I saw these pictures.  She came back to me like a slap in the face.  Mini skirt, cigarette and completely outta her head...but her boyfriend was stone cold sober and he was driving.  Pinky let him go for making a rolling stop through a stop sign figuring the guy wanted to get her home as quickly as possible.

We ate ice cream to stay up through the midnight to eight shift. By early morning, Pinky set up a speed trap but while he nailed numerous drivers for speeding in a 30mph zone, he didn't give anyone a ticket. They either knew him or his parents who lived in a small house on the west side of A1A back when you didn't have to be rich to live on the beach in St John's County.

I crawled into my girl friend's bed around nine in the morning and after she woke up, I told her the stories of the drunks, the guy with DTs, the crazy mini skirt girl and eating ice cream out of a pint held between my legs to stay up. She looked at me, said she had no interest in cops and would prefer if I never went out on patrol with Pinky again. 

31 years later I see photographs of that night and morning.  Never sure of exactly what date but sure of how it all felt. 


Anonymous said...

Thirty-one years later? Wow, I thought the last undeveloped roll I shot 6 years ago was a record. Speaks to the stability of film. Digital archiving isn't even expected to hold up that long.

A couple of nice ones for the portfolio, Tintin. St. Johns County seems so...remote. Not like today.


Anonymous said...

Very high compliment to be appreciated by Christina Hope. I see her occasionally in and around Jacksonville, art scene venues. She and her husband enjoy emeritus status in these parts.


Unknown said...

Pure poetry, John. Evokes the time and place in a perfect cinematic roll-up. Toby Wolff can't do better.