First, let me make a long sto­ry short: I was born in 1940 and grew up in West­ern Penn­syl­va­nia, did 8 years of mil­i­tary ser­vice, came to Ore­gon in 1969 (after a cou­ple of zigs and zags), fin­ished school, and have lived and worked here in the Port­land area ever since. Now in retire­ment, I trav­el (main­ly in the North­west, with spouse), pho­to­graph, write and do yardwork.

My home­town of Van­port, Pa. sits about 30 miles down­stream from Pitts­burgh, on the Ohio Riv­er, well into a region so heav­i­ly indus­tri­al­ized start­ing in the late 1800s that it was noto­ri­ous across the coun­try for its pol­lut­ed air and gen­er­al coal-​soot grime. I’m not say­ing it was a bad place to grow up, it was­n’t. We kids could pret­ty much roam around town and fend for our­selves in ways prob­a­bly not safe (or allowed) today.

Maybe I get pho­tog­ra­phy from my father, who had an old East­man Kodak fold­ing cam­era of the “Auto­graph­ic” vari­ety that he used to cap­ture snap­shots of my broth­er and me while we were grow­ing up in Van­port. Here are a few pictures:

Pop worked at the Jones and Laugh­lin Steel Com­pa­ny, known to every­body as J & L, just up the riv­er at Aliquip­pa. In the mid-​1930s, the Aliquip­pa works had been the at the cen­ter of a labor dis­pute that led to a land­mark Supreme Court deci­sion allow­ing work­ers to orga­nize unions with­out fear of reprisal from man­age­ment. Pop was a char­ter mem­ber of the CIO (Con­gress of Indus­tri­al Orga­ni­za­tions, a pre­cur­sor to the AFL-​CIO), in spite of being a Repub­li­can for most of his adult life. Like a good num­ber of women, my moth­er worked at J & L for a while too, dur­ing World War II. Fol­low this link to get some idea of what it looked like: Carnegie Muse­um of Art Pho­to­graph Col­lec­tion.

My par­ents head­ed for the Mary­land sub­urbs of Wash­ing­ton, D.C. in the late six­ties, not long before the domes­tic steel indus­try start­ed its down­ward spi­ral and West­ern Penn­syl­va­nia became part of the rust belt. Pop end­ed up at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mary­land library and stayed long enough for a sec­ond retire­ment; Mom con­tin­ued work­ing in Mary­land and was doing pre­press work for off­set print­ing. Lat­er, they moved to Maine. They’re both gone now, and so is J & L, utter­ly, not a build­ing left.

In 1958, almost imme­di­ate­ly after fin­ish­ing high school in the adja­cent town of Beaver, I enlist­ed in the U. S. Air Force. I was not quite eigh­teen, so the folks had to give per­mis­sion. Hav­ing done well on cer­tain tests, the Air Force sent me to elec­tron­ics school in Biloxi, Mis­sis­sip­pi, where I learned how to fix air­craft radio and radar equipment.

After spin­ning my wheels state­side, most­ly in Delaware, the Air Force shipped me to a weath­er recon­nais­sance squadron based in Japan, near Tokyo. The squadron spent part of its time chas­ing typhoons around the West­ern Pacif­ic, so I had a lot of tem­po­rary assign­ments to Hawaii, The Philip­pines and Guam. When my two-​year tour in Japan was up, I returned state­side to a bomber wing based in South Dako­ta. But the Viet­nam War was heat­ing up and I bounced right back to Oki­nawa, and from there to Thai­land. It was over­seas that I first got into 35mm film, by way of the Olym­pus Pen‑F and ‑EE half-​frame cam­eras, which I used to doc­u­ment my trav­els. Sad to say, I lost the best of those pic­tures dur­ing one of my many moves, but here are a few from my time in the Air Force:

After my dis­charge, in 1966, I set­tled in the Mary­land sub­urbs of Wash­ing­ton, D. C. for a while. I got work in elec­tron­ics and took some cours­es (which I had start­ed doing while in the Air Force). These were tur­bu­lent times: counter-​cultural fer­ment, anti-​war protests like the march on the Pen­ta­gon, which I joined, and the riot­ing in Wash­ing­ton after the mur­der of Mar­tin Luther King.

In late 1969, I took off for Mex­i­co with a friend and his fam­i­ly, in their old Chevro­let, to spend about 9 months going to school near Mex­i­co City. The Chevy blew a valve some­where in Ten­nessee, but it sput­tered on to the bor­der at Lare­do any­way, where we caught a bus.

I returned briefly to Mary­land, but, in late 1969, head­ed for Ore­gon, where my broth­er Ernie was attend­ing the Muse­um Art School, in Port­land. I enrolled at Port­land State Uni­ver­si­ty, grad­u­at­ed and set­tled down. For a lit­tle over three decades, I was a tech­ni­cal writer spe­cial­iz­ing in com­put­er hard­ware and soft­ware doc­u­men­ta­tion for com­pa­nies like Intel, Tek­tron­ix, and Men­tor Graph­ics. I got back into avi­a­tion as well, as an active pri­vate pilot for 20 years and the own­er of a lit­tle Cess­na for about five. Here are a cou­ple of pictures:

There is much more to my sto­ry than this, of course. Most impor­tant, there is Kath­leen and all that she brings — we’ve been mar­ried for 23 years now:

I’ve been a Nikon par­ti­san since the 1980s and now use a D610 dig­i­tal cam­era. Late­ly, I’ve tak­en a renewed inter­est in film and am ren­o­vat­ing a Calumet 4- by 5‑inch view cam­era. I still own the Pen‑F that I bought in Japan, but, like me, it’s show­ing its age and get­ting pret­ty stiff.