San Francisco period, unpacked

One of Snappy-San’s early mentors was a former German Army soldier. Adolph was a barrel-chested six-foot tall, blue-eyed Aryan who knew his way around a Hasselblad, a Leica and, even a box of watercolors. Adolph served in WWII and reported that when the war was over, “they all came back.” “They” = “Jews.” Adolph was more than a photographic mentor, he was Snappy-San’s landlord and his boss at a blueprinting shop in San Francisco. Snappy-San rented Adolph’s house for a while. Snappy-San and his cronies set up quite the lifestyle, with a pool table, an Irish Setter, oceanic quantities of beer, weed, the occasional nude male dancer. Coke came later, via MS, a guy Snappy-San knew to be mostly concerned with stealing copper, rather than dealing coke, but opportunity is where you find it.

influences, gear: an ex-German soldier, a Hasselblad, a Calumet 4 x 5 view camera. (shown: typical German soldier, not Adolph)

Adolph had built a darkroom in the basement of this house that was a classic for its time. Long, wooden, hand-built sink, fiberglassed and waterproofed. A drying closet for drying rolls of black and white film. Kodak red safe lights. Timers, funnels. Developing trays, screens and drums and mounting presses, the whole show. There were chemicals left behind from when Adolph and his son and wife were down there souping their rolls of film and making prints from their Tyrolean style adventures in the mountains of California.

Adolph’s explanation for everything was, “the Jews.” If you talked about how the world was a less safe/prosperous/predictable/habitable place, his answer was to use his right hand to draw a hook nose from the uppermost section of his nose to his upper lip. This explained everything.

Toward the end of his time in San-Francisco, Snappy-San had built out his gear with a Hasselblad, a  4 x 5 view camera (the same one pictured above) his trusty OM-1 and headed off to City College of San Francisco for two years. These were the days when community college in California was entirely free. What happened after San-Francisco? After City College?

Read the next chapter –> | Snappy-San leaves San Francisco for the University of New Mexico to study photography with Tom Barrow, Betty Hahn, Gwen Widmer, Bill Tydeman, and to meet his future wife. L.



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