No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better...

Monday, June 27, 2011

The delights of seeing

Those who can do, those who can't shop.  Or at least that's what I did yesterday rather than knuckle down to anything more productive.  I went to my local flea market in mid-town (of green foot stool fame) and was not disappointed.  It always amazes me what people want to get rid of.  Who, for example, wanted nothing more to do with these fabulous women?

Imagine what it was like to train as a nurse in 1922.  What it took to think about doing that.  I find these pictures endlessly fascinating.  And the best part is that the Allegheny General Hospital is still there in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, still training nurses.

These women had names like Red, and Fran and Vi and some look quite formidable.  But I wonder what their lives were like and if they liked what they were doing.

This is a sister picture of one I scored at a flea market just after we came to New York three years ago.  I have to admit that I was taken with the name more than anything:

And the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago is still thriving.  We came across it last year when we went to Chicago for the weekend and I whooped when I saw it.  These pictures will now live together in my hall.

They both remind me of a photo taken by Walker Evans that I love...

... shown in this book.

I pass my Moody Bible people every day as I come and go and every now and then I stop and study their faces.  I tell you, endlessly fascinating.

Someone has also thrown out this plate, which came home with me yesterday.

It's a Vera.  Until yesterday, I didn't know who Vera Neumann was but the seller seemed to know so I went along with it.  I just loved the pattern.  I'm having a real thing for mustard yellow at the moment.  I think one of the rooms in the little old lady house will be a shade of mustard yellow.  And this plate will live there.

I also finished a tentative first draft of my story.  I  may tinker with it a bit this week, but I am minded, in the words of Zadie Smith, to step away from the vehicle.  I read one of her essays yesterday in Changing My Mind that the best thing an author can do when they have finished a work is to shove it in a drawer, preferably for a year, but three months will do.  All to do with making the transition from writer to reader, which helps the writer see more clearly how to edit the work.  It's tough to do, but it really pays off.  So, what I'm saying is, don't be looking out for me in the New Yorker any time soon. :)

Hope you all had a lovely weekend.



  1. Those nurses are fab! And some of them are sharing the one pair of glasses.

  2. Great finds.
    What fabulous women they must have been.

  3. Wow amazing pictures, so cool that you have a little collection going now. It's strange though, you would think the college would want that photo to display somewhere inside its halls wouldn't you?!

  4. Gorgeous plate!!! I love those colours too. It would be fascinating to know about the lives of your nurses....did they nurse in the war? did they give up nursing to get married and have kids? I wonder xxx

  5. It's amazing what you can pick up at flea markets and charity shops. It's so sad that someone didn't care for those nurses anymore. Glad you've given them a home.


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