Monday, May 25, 2009


I spent some time tonight poking around in the attic, and surprised myself by finding my dad's old Yashica-Mat. I'd been half-heartedly wondering where it was ever since I moved here. Presumably it still works -- at least it did ten years ago, when Gideon went through a stage of taking photos with it. I wonder if you can even get that 2x2 format film anymore, or if it's some kind of ridiculous specialty item.

But I wasn't looking for the camera. I was pawing through my insane number of boxes (there's nothing like a lifelong apartment-dweller who suddenly comes into possession of a house with full attic for an example of some seriously random packratism) in search of some slide boxes that had been my father's. I found them, finally -- three steel boxes, about 8 x 11 x 2, surprisingly heavy. Especially the one I was looking for, which was filled with glass slides, presumably taken with the very same Yashika-Mat in Okinawa in the early 50s. My dad, an anthropologist, did field service there during the Korean War studying the effects of the conflict and the influx of servicemen on Okinawan hookers and their families. I realize this is ripe for all sorts of off-color comments, but hey -- we're talking about my father, so as far as I'm concerned I'm not going to go there.

I'd looked at them briefly a few years ago, when I came into possession of a bunch of his stuff, and I'd been meaning to pull them out again. They were as haunting and beautiful as I remembered -- neatly labeled on a piece of oak tag by subject: Material culture, Okinawan wedding, Okinawan bullfight, brothels and whores (nice, dad), children, adults and children, adults, houses and villages, and markets. Each one painstakingly edged in black cloth tape, which made getting them out of their slots a bit of a pain, but the effect was elegant.

I wish they scanned more clearly, but I probably need a better scanner with a setting specifically for slides and transparencies, plus I didn't sit down with the needed damp cloth and clean them. But here are a few, just to give an idea of what's in this box of slides from 55-odd years ago.



Blogger Debi said...

Those are marvelous, honey.

7:15 AM  
Blogger Rooie said...

Wow. What a find. Seems like there could be a book there.

Gorgeous images, even in the rough.

7:39 AM  
Blogger hedgewytch said...

I agree about there being a book there... those are fabulous!

10:33 AM  
Blogger Leah said...

A wow from me, too.

2:34 AM  
Blogger Leah said...

Double comment. That's the same guy with two different women. I wonder what his (and their) story was? This is why I love old photos like this.

2:37 AM  
Blogger heddy said...

I just got a scanner that has an attachment for film etc. When I get back to NYC, we can make a date to make high quality scans of your slides.

2:12 PM  
Blogger Maya said...

These photos should have a blog of their own. Fascinating.

12:46 AM  
Blogger Miss T said...

Wow. Amazing images, and that's one beautiful camera.

2:35 PM  
Blogger Bailey said...

These are beautiful. I'm in Okinawa and was trying to find out what kind of bird I keep seeing outside of my window. I searched for "Okinawa bird" and got these.

1:28 AM  

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