My Favorite Picture – 2015

Minard Castle Ruins, Co. Kerry, Ireland

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A return to the Glencree German Military (War) Cemetery…

Meg really wanted to return to Ireland this year and was left with the task of planning the trip. I tried to limit my involvement to determining the flights, getting us to/from the airport (JFK is fun at rush hour!), and interjecting a few things I wanted to see (Guinness Storehouse, etc.).

Glencree Cemetery - From AboveThe first thing on this list was a site I visited previously – the Glencree German War Cemetery in the Wicklow Mountains. Spending more time onsite was one benefit of returning again, but what I really  wanted to do again was my respects to those interred here.

Glencree Cemetery - stone & crossesWhile the hallowed grounds appeared different than they did in 2010 (or so I thought, revisiting those pictures proved my memory wrong), the peace and tranquility remained. Mist was in the air while a slight breeze rustled the leaves. Sounds of the water flowing through and down a waterfall lent itself to an overly calming effect.

This is the final resting place of 134 German soldiers; soldiers that had either crashed into Ireland (as a result of flying over England), or those that had washed up as a result of a maritime incident. It is not limited to just those loses in World War 2, the remains of six soldiers from World War 1 are also interred here.

Dr. Herman Görtz (Major)There is one well known occupant: Dr. Hermann Görtz. After conviction and a 4-year imprisonment in Britain, he later parachuted into Ireland. He was again captured and served time in Ireland and was released from custody in 1946. Dr. Görtz committed suicide in 1947 out of fear or being handed over to the Soviets after being informed he was being deported to Germany.

While making it a point to visit Glencree may seem somewhat macabre, it is one of the few ways to recognize our past.

/kris

For more info, visit the Glencree Centre for Peace.

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Abandoned Ellis Island – April 2015

UntitledThree of my four grandparents were immigrants. While none of them passed through Ellis Island, the sheer history of this site made it a target of my admiration.

In 2010, Meg and I visited the traditional side of Ellis Island prior to a visit to Ireland. While there, the ranger made note of the abandonment across the ferry docks. It was only recently this was made available to visit/tour.

Save Ellis Island (www.saveellisland.org) is working to restore this side of the island. It’s because of their preservation efforts that even touring this side has become available.

UntitledHurricane Sandy attacked the grounds, but as those of us in the Northeast are, both the site – and the people who work to preserve it – are resilient.

As for my tour, I was fortunate in the majority of my group was delayed or didn’t arrive. As a result, only two of us set off on the tour of the abandoned hospital, kitchen, morgue, and (–captains house??–). While others joined us as we went, this “quiet” beginning was quite beneficial.

We began with a bit of history, Untitledranging from the purpose of Ellis Island and immigration, to fires on the grounds and the changing of purpose (island ownership in the 16/1700’s, immigration, Coast Guard activities, prisons capabilities, etc.)

As the others joined, we made our way through the kitchen and other wards throughout the grounds. The United States not only verified that the immigrants were fit to enter the country, but also cared for those that might have needed an extra “bump” (medically).

MorgueSadly, while numbers were extremely low, a number of those arriving in America did not survive. A full morgue (right), with freezer, allowed autopsies of the deceased to be completed. With the classroom-like arrangement, it also allowed the morticians to share the knowledge with their students.

StairwellIt was humbling to walk the hallowed grounds so many had once strived to set foot on.  It was even more humbling to know my grandparents had once strived for the same exact thing.

/kris

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Pennhurst State School

Hospital Orderly'sSheesh, it’s been so long, I’m surprised I remembered my login name and password. Time hasn’t been a friend recently, and while I’ve shot plenty, actually documenting those trips/shoots has been non-existent.

That said – here we go 🙂

Untitled April 2015 offered the opportunity (thanks to Matthew Christopher of abandonedamerica.us) to shoot/explore the Pennhurst State School and HospitalUntitledAfter closing in 1987, the grounds have (like so many other sites), been left to nature and the elements.

While only two buildings were made available, both told stories. “Candy Land” (slightly above, right), appeared to house a daycare or early-life center; with pictures of kids, elephants, and what you would see in modern-day childcare centers. With the April trip, this room had sunlight due to a break-in that had opened up the previously boarded-up windows). Untitled

On the third floor of the second building was a series of empty rooms. All had various degrees of decay – from plaster that had shattered and been re-homed on the floor, to those that appeared to be supporting vegetation on the exterior of the building. However, one particular room toward the end of the corridor found itself quite photogenic. 

UntitledBetween the old school wheel chair and the phenomenal contrasts in the room, I found it an ideal subject to shoot. While not a fan of moving objects to “get the shot”, especially room to room or site to site, the layout of this room and how the wheelchair fit in with its surrounding, made it an ideal subject.  

A second trip to the grounds with Melissa of sheetar.com added some improved shots that I missed in April. It also reinforced that instead of looking ahead – you also need to look UP. A few additional snaps below –

/kris

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Carranza Memorial

Carranza MemorialI couldn’t guesstimate how many times we would make our way down Route 206 and just focus on how long it’d take us to get to our destination. Whether it be cranking the music, or on warmer days, opening the windows, we’d just want to do whatever it took to let the time pass. During one of those drives, we saw the sign for the Carranza Memorial. It piqued our interest, but by the end of the day, escaped our mind.

Carranza Memorial

After seeing the sign again on another road trip, we Google’d what the site was and were exposed to history within Burlington County that we were completely unaware of. The name Captain Emilio Carranza had never been mentioned before – either at home or in school – and little did we know, his history and plight had been memorialized so close to home. The plane he’d been piloting had gone down in Burlington County as he was returning to Mexico from a goodwill trip to the US.

I decided to pay the memorial site a visit today. Situated deep in the Pineland’s (and down a road with 1/2 the potholes in the state), the monument stands where the plane went down. Well maintained, it was surrounded by campgrounds and people riding bikes. Also of note was the quiet. No traffic was heard – it was quite peaceful.

Revealed in the over quest for information was that the American Legion Post 11 out of Mount Holly vowed to keep his memory alive through a memorial service to be held at the site every year on the anniversary of Captain Carranza’s death. This years memorial will be held on July 11th at 1:00PM. The Facebook event can be seen here, with additional details on the Post 11 webpage.

The Post 11 website can give you far more information on who he was, his history, relationship with Charles Lindbergh, as well as directions to the site, and a link to a documentary.

/kris

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