Memorial Day, 2023 ,arrives at the beginning of next week, the traditional start of Summer and the annual holidayk season. In our half-century of time together, Amy and I have spent fascinating times in unique parts the world, including climbing a rickety staircase to the s\top of Masada in the Holy Land of Israel they the jews tried to stave off a devastating attack by the Romans or an action-packed New Year’s Weekend in Piccadilly Circus in London, which makes Times Square in London look like a church school picnic.
In both cases, however, we were not on a traditional vacation. She joined me on assignments to both as part of my job. She got to witness some of the history I was covering. She also got to shop at Harrods.
I have traveled around the world as either a globe-trotting photojournalist or as a special assistant to the ranking member of the House Science Committee on Science Technology, were my job included working on the investigation of the Space Shuttle Challenger destruction during a launch on Jan.28th, 1986. I have visited each continent of the world, including the North and South Poles, rode down a mile-long open elevator down into the depth of the Attic Circle to photograph and deep shaft gold mine, photographed troops under fire in Afghanistan and other hots spots of the world. We danced at the Inaugural Ball of President George H.W. Bush in Washington and later watched the burning hold in the Pentagon during the 9 /11 terrorist attacks.
In 1982 at a restaurant in Albuquerque, we had dinner with former Texas Gov. John Connolly when he talked openly about how he “didn’t believe a word of the Warren Commission report on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. When I asked him why he didn’t take his concerns public, Connolly said “I care too much to see this nation ripped apart by keeping the controversy alive.”
On a rare vacation trip to New Orleans, we stayed at the vintage Fairmont Hotel and me actors Sam Shepherd, John Heard and Julia Roberts, who were staying at the hotel and filming a key scene in the move, The Pelican Brief. In her working days, Amy was an actress, director and model. She was the resident heroine on the nightly melodramas on the Goldenrod Showboat on the St. Louis Riverfront, appeared in plays, commercials other events and directed shows. After we moved to the National Capital Region of Washington, DC, she used the train and airline shuttles to work in Manhattan. She helped stage a tribute to acting guru Lee Strasberg at the Lincoln Center, where the worked with Al Pacino and others to honor the man who taught them their craft.
She had a knack to meet and encounter those of her acting craft: Paul Newman talked to her after holding the door open at our hotel in Indianapolis during the Indy 500 Time Trials. He remembered meeting me when I photographed him racing in an SCCA race at Chuck Berry ‘s Mid-America Raceway in Wentzville near St. Louis in the mid-1970s.
Amy also worked on stage with Regis Philbin in Sr. Louis.
We’ve had the honor and fortune to know, sometimes work with, and keep in touch with celebrities in our life. Cartoonist Charles Schulz was a friend who named a book of Snoopy cartoons “Thompson is in trouble Charlie Brown.” I have the lithograph of the book cover, autographed by him, along with a note that “this is because of your kind interview and story on my work.” Thompson was a “beagle in the field” in he Snoopy Series.
In the strip from October 4, 1972, the Head Beagle sends a letter to Snoopy, in coded “paw”. In the strip from the following day, Snoopy deciphers the message, reads “Thompson is in trouble” and yells “That stupid Thompson!” Charlie Brown replies by saying, “Who is Thompson?” Apparently, this is not the first time Thompson had gotten in trouble, because Snoopy says “last time this happened, he almost got us all killed.”
Having put on a fake mustache, Snoopy leaves to find Thompson. A waitress in a restaurant “full of shady types” recognizes Thompson from his description and tells Snoopy that she saw Thompson head north of town. In the strip from October 12, 1972, Snoopy sees Thompson but is only able to say, “Too late!” and “Poor Thompson!”
In the following day’s strip, Snoopy writes a report to the Head Beagle, in which he identifies Thompson as “our beagle in the field”. Snoopy describes Thompson’s fate thusly: “Subject attempted to subdue ten thousand rabbits by himself. End came quickly. Rabbit-tat-tat and it was all over.”–Thompson is in Trouble, Charlie Brown
John Fogerty, founder of Credence Clearwater Revival liked a photo I shot of the band when in played in the St. Lous area in the early 1970s. He says a print of that photo hangs in his home and, because of it, I have open approval to use excerpts of any of his song compositions in my video work.
“Great photo, man,” he wrote in a note. “You are an artist with a camera.” Not treally, John. I’m just a lucky journeyman who has often been at the right place at the right time in a career that began 60 years ago. You are the artist with music and words.
When we left Washington in 2004 and moved back to my high school hometown of Floyd, had hoped we could take some more relaxing vacations, including a cruise up north from Seattle to Juneau, Alaska. I spent time there in the 1990s working on a project involving an attempt to reopen and old gold mine in the mountains above that landlocked Capital city.
Never did. Never got to it and probably never will, but we sure did visit and see a lot of the world over the years and they include trips we remember and cherish.