The Tri-X Files S2E14: December 4-6, 1984 (Roll 84_32)

In my four years of high school, I took a lot of photos: As a contributing photographer for the school newspaper, as the creator of the “Band Yearbook,” and as an obsessive historian. The majority of these photos were taken using Tri-X 400 speed black and white film, which I developed and printed in the school art room. Now, 30 years later, armed with a negative scanner, I am attempting to reproduce every single Tri-X photo that I took in my sophomore year high school, and to document the events surrounding those photos. This is Season Two of The Tri-X Files, presenting photos taken almost exactly to the day, 30 years ago.


Episode #14: “Three Busy Days (or ‘When Tanya Finally Got Tired of Being Photographed All the Time’)”

(Remember, you can click on any of the photos in this entry to see the image in a larger view in the Flickr set)

Tri-X Files 84_32 Contact Sheet (edited)
The first week of December in 1984 was a busy one for the members of the Model High School Band. The annual Winter Concert was looming on Thursday, December 6, but before then, they also had to perform as the Pep Band at the first home game for the Boys Varsity Basketball Team on Tuesday, December 4. The events of December 4, 5 and 6 were captured on the first 10 frames of Roll 84_32; the final 11 shots of this roll took place on December 7 and will be covered in Episode #16.

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 4, 1984:
Gymnasium, Interior, Upper Level 83_05.01 - Model Pep Band
The Pep Band always set up in the balcony of the Shirley Kearns Gymnasium, occupying all of the rows on the righthand side, next to that door in the wall.  The photo on the left is from 2007 while the photo on the right shows the Pep Band in their section in December of 1983.

Tri-X Files 84_32.03a: Aaron Being Menacing
The percussionists always occupied the front row of Pep Band, with the majority of the space occupied by one person on the drum set (Aaron, in the photo above), a second on the bass drum, and a third on the bells (usually Keith). The flutes and the clarinets sat on the next two rows, and then the remaining rows were usually filled out with everybody else sitting pretty much wherever they wanted to.

Tri-X Files 84_32.02a: The Rest of the Pep Band
Here is the rest of the Pep Band, where we can see a trumpet player, a saxophone player, and a flute player all mixed together. The only other rule was that the lower brass, particularly the trombones, sat in the back row, and no one sat in front of them because of their slides.

Tri-X Files 84_32.04a: Tanya and Shay at Pep Band Tri-X Files 84_32.05: The Cheerleader and the Clarinet Player
This was the first home game of the basketball season for the boys teams, and so the Girls Varsity Cheerleaders (who usually cheered for the Girls Basketball Team) were invited to cheer for the Junior Varsity Boys Basketball Team (as it was a double header with both JV and Varsity Teams).  Tanya, our first chair clarinet player and member of the Girls Varsity Cheerleading squad, did double duty that evening, both in her role as cheerleader and band member.

Tri-X Files 84_32.06a: Me and Shay at Pep Band
Tanya, annoyed at the number of photos that I had been taking of her for the past year, demanded kindly requested that she be allowed to take a photo of me; you can see her reaching for the camera in the previous photo above.

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 5, 1984:
Tri-X Files 84_32.07a: Mr. Schubert Drops In
It was the day before the Winter Concert and the High School Band’s rehearsal was politely interrupted with a surprise appearance by Mr. Schubert, the Band Director from 1975-1982 and whom Mr. Stephens preceded.  Mr. Schubert had since retired and made his living repairing musical instruments.  He was making a delivery that afternoon and decided to drop in.  This particular photo is of special significance because it is the only photo of my two Band Directors in the same place at the same time.

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 6, 1984
Tri-X Files 84_32.08a: Mr. Stephens in Action
It is the day of the Winter Concert and all of the chairs and music stands from the Band Room have been moved onto the stage of Edwards Auditorium, the assembly hall inside Model Lab School, and one last “dress rehearsal” was held onstage.  This particularly dynamic shot of Mr. Stephens is one of my favorite “action” photos of him, taken from my viewpoint on the stage.

Tri-X Files 84_32.09a: Peering Over the Stand at Keith and Pam
Shot of Keith and Pam, taken over the edge of my music stand, onstage during rehearsals before the concert. I’m not exactly sure WHY Keith is sitting in the front row next to Pam, since he was a percussionist and normally sat in the back row … unless, of course, he was looking for any excuse to get to sit next to his girlfriend …

Tri-X Files 84_32.09b: Meena and Stephen
Shot of Meena and Stephen, onstage during the last rehearsal before the Winter Concert.

Tri-X Files 84_32.10: Grumpy Tanya
Shot of Tanya, onstage during the last rehearsal before the Winter Concert. She looks rather grumpy; perhaps she WAS getting a little tired of all the photographs I was shooting of her. Oh, well …


IN THE NEXT EPISODE (to be posted on Sunday, December 7, 2014): The 1984 Winter Concert!


The photos that were featured in this episode can be seen in this Flickr set with additional commentary as well as images that were not featured in this episode. As always, you can click on any of the images above for a larger view at the Flickr site.

Tri-X Files Uncut: A separate set featuring all of the original scans from this roll, uncropped and unaltered, in their full frame glory.  Here is the set for this roll.

Season One of the Tri-X Files, featuring photos from my freshman year of high school, can be found at this link.

The Tri-X Files website.

Image of the Week for 12-01-14

Image of the Week for 12-01-14: Getting Ahead
Customer brought in the two photos on the left and explained that the ladies in the top photo had their heads cut off in the bottom photo, and wanted to know if there was some way to take their heads from the top photo and put them on their bodies in the bottom photo?

Yeah, sure, I guess so.

The Tri-X Files S2E13: December 1, 1984 (Roll 84_31)

In my four years of high school, I took a lot of photos: As a contributing photographer for the school newspaper, as the creator of the “Band Yearbook,” and as an obsessive historian. The majority of these photos were taken using Tri-X 400 speed black and white film, which I developed and printed in the school art room. Now, 30 years later, armed with a negative scanner, I am attempting to reproduce every single Tri-X photo that I took in my sophomore year high school, and to document the events surrounding those photos. This is Season Two of The Tri-X Files, presenting photos taken almost exactly to the day, 30 years ago.


Episode #13: “Holiday Parade 1984″

(Remember, you can click on any of the photos in this entry to see the image in a larger view in the Flickr set)

Although not essential, it is recommended that you read the previous episode before reading this one.

Tri-X Files 84_31 Contact Sheet

Saturday, December 1, 1984. The annual Richmond Holiday Parade, held on the first Saturday in December, kicking off the holiday season. And the last performance for the Model High School Marching Band for 1984, ending a marching season that had seen some improvement over the course of the past few months for a young band that contained almost as many Middle School Band Members as there were High School Band Members. Once again, since I was one of those band members, I had to entrust Mr. Stephens with my camera to take the photos that I planned to use in both the school newspaper and the Band Yearbook Project.

Tri-X Files 84_31.02a: Warming Up in the Combs Lot
The route of the parade was exactly the same as the one from the EKU Homecoming Parade. We lined up on the EKU campus and came out of the Combs parking lot, proceeded down Lancaster Avenue until it intersected with Main Street, and then continued down Main Street and through downtown Richmond until the end at Collins Street.  Nothing new.  The only major difference between this parade and the last one was that it was a bright and sunny morning as opposed to a gloomy and foggy one.

Tri-X Files 84_31.01: Bass Drummer and The Duck Tri-X Files 84_31.01a: Bass Drummer and The Duck
Neal and the unofficial band mascot, The Duck, were ready to get started.

Tri-X Files 84_31.03: Waiting for the Parade to Start
Ready to go. To the far right is the best and clearest shot of the Mystery Band Member, a flute player who was not a regular member of the band and whose only appearances has been during the parades.  I have no recollection as to the identity of this performer, and if anyone does, please let me know.

Tri-X Files 84_31.04a: Joe Keeps Everyone in Line
The parade begins as the band marches onto Lancaster Avenue. In this shot, it would appear that Joe is giving Guy a lecture about staying in step, as Guy’s inability to remain in step had been a running joke throughout the entire semester.  He seems to be okay, for now.  Joe, on the other hand, looks like he is being really bossy.  C”mon, Joe, you aren’t Drum Major … yet.

Tri-X Files 84_31.05a: Parade Route at the Intersection of Lancaster and Barnes Mill
The band comes to a temporary halt at the intersection of Lancaster Avenue and Barnes Mill Road and this shot gives a nice view of the entire band in formation as well as some of the other participants in the parade.  There is also a brief view of the old service station that sat at the corner of the intersection to the far right, which has changed hands and appearances numerous times in the past thirty years.

Note that the banner is being carried by one person, seventh grader Mike (the younger brother of our sole tuba player, Kurt).  You might be wondering why the band needed two people to carry the banner in previous parades, but then you should also notice that the banner that Mike is carrying is a smaller banner; the one carried in previous parades was a different one, and much wider.

Tri-X Files 84_31.06a: First Methodist Church Float
The First Methodist Church float. It is entirely possible that Mr. Stephens took this photo because his daughter, Susan, was on this float, but if she is, I don’t think she is on the side that was facing the camera, because I cannot pick her out of the group. If I had to guess, I would say she is the sixth head from the left, facing the other side. I never printed or published this photo until now.

Tri-X Files 84_31.08a: Lance Does the Moonwalk
Here’s a nice wide shot of Lancaster Avenue and the entire band. However, for the Band Yearbook, I cropped and enlarged just the Drum Major from this shot and added the caption “Lance does the moonwalk,” so I never really knew how good a photo I had, until now.

Tri-X Files 84_31.09: Everyone Almost Exactly in Step
Hey look, off the side, on the far left of the frame, it’s a very rare shot of Mrs. Stephens, walking alongside the band with her husband.

Tri-X Files 84_31.10a: Crossing the Drumsticks Tri-X Files 84_31.10b: Crossing the Drumsticks
Here, Aaron and Ricky, the two snare drummers, demonstrate their rhythmic skills and coordination by tapping each other’s drumsticks during this segment of the marching cadence. It was a very neat little trick and fun to watch, but not very many people in the crowd ever really noticed.

Tri-X Files 84_31.12a: Marching Past Irvine-McDowell Park
Another great shot of the band in motion, as the band passed Irvine-McDowell Park.

Tri-X Files 84_31.14a: MHS Band in front of the Fire Station (1/5)
Once the band turned onto Main Street and started to march towards the downtown area, Mr. Stephens positioned himself in front of the fireplace and took a series of five shots, capturing each row of the marching band. Here are the rest of those shots:

Tri-X Files 84_31.15a: MHS Band in front of the Fire Station (2/5)

Tri-X Files 84_31.16a: MHS Band in front of the Fire Station (3/5)

Tri-X Files 84_31.17a: MHS Band in front of the Fire Station (4/5)

Tri-X Files 84_31.18a: MHS Band in front of the Fire Station (5/5)

Tri-X Files 84_31.19a: Past the Bar and the Liquor Store and the VW Repair Place
This shot was taken one block after the courthouse, when the road started to significantly slope downhill.  It is significant due to the landmarks in the background: J. Sutter’s Mill (a bar), a Volkswagon repair place, and Big Daddy Liquor, all classic businesses from downtown Richmond.  None of these places exist any more.

Tri-X Files 84_31.20a: The Turn at Main and Collins Street

Tri-X Files 84_31.21a: The Marching Band in Front of Ernie's
Also no longer in existence is Ernie’s Liquor & Beer Emporium, at the corner of Main and Collins Street, where the parade terminated.  That sign was a classic.

And then, the parade was over. We trudged back to the Band Room where we put away our instruments and uniforms (we would still need both of these items in the coming week). We had survived another marching season. But there was always next year …


IN THE NEXT EPISODE (to be posted on Friday, December 5, 2014): Pep Band! And the final rehearsals leading up to the Winter Concert. And then, two days later, a bonus episode (to be posted on Monday, December 8, 1984), covering the aforementioned Winter Concert.


The photos that were featured in this episode can be seen in this Flickr set with additional commentary as well as images that were not featured in this episode. As always, you can click on any of the images above for a larger view at the Flickr site.

Tri-X Files Uncut: A separate set featuring all of the original scans from this roll, uncropped and unaltered, in their full frame glory.  Here is the set for this roll.

Season One of the Tri-X Files, featuring photos from my freshman year of high school, can be found at this link.

The Tri-X Files website.

Image of the Week for 11-24-14

Image of the Week for 11-24-14: Red Lights
Red Lights

Image of the Week for 11-17-14

Image of the Week for 11-17-14: The Colonel Put Out with the Trash
The Colonel in the Dumpster

The Tri-X Files S2E12: Late November and December 1, 1984 (Roll 84_30)

In my four years of high school, I took a lot of photos: As a contributing photographer for the school newspaper, as the creator of the “Band Yearbook,” and as an obsessive historian. The majority of these photos were taken using Tri-X 400 speed black and white film, which I developed and printed in the school art room. Now, 30 years later, armed with a negative scanner, I am attempting to reproduce every single Tri-X photo that I took in my sophomore year high school, and to document the events surrounding those photos. This is Season Two of The Tri-X Files, presenting photos taken almost exactly to the day, 30 years ago.


Episode #12: “Prelude to the Holidays”

(Remember, you can click on any of the photos in this entry to see the image in a larger view in the Flickr set)

The next four rolls, including this one, contain photos that are taken within the span of one very busy week: December 1-6, 1984. These events, which include the Richmond Holiday Parade, the first Model High School Basketball home game, the Model High School Band Winter Concert, and the Model High School Christmas Decoration Day, will be covered in greater illustrated detail over the course of the next four episodes.

Tri-X Files Roll 84_30 Contact Sheet
The photos on the second half of this roll (shots 13-21) were taken on the morning of Saturday, December 1, 1984, prior to the Richmond Holiday Parade. It is a little less definite as to when the earlier shots on the roll were taken.  Theoretically, they could have been taken at any time between November 12, 1984 (the last date of photos taken on the previous roll) and November 30, 1984 (the day before the parade).  After eliminating the weekends (November 17, 18, 24 and 25) and the Thanksgiving Holiday (November 22 and 23), that leaves November 12-16, 19-21 and 26-30 as the potential dates that these photos were taken.  Knowing my habit of burning through a roll of film fairly quickly, it seems unlikely that I would load my camera as early as November 12 and finish off the roll almost three weeks later, so I would have to guess that the first 12 photos on this roll were probably taken during the week of November 26-30.

This does bring up an interesting point: If my last photo was taken on November 12th and the next batch of photos after that were taken on (at the earliest) November 26th, then what was I doing during the two weeks in between?  Was there nothing going on at the school that needed to be captured on film?  For one thing, the November edition of The Observer was published on November 21st, which meant that anything that was going into that issue had to be turned in the week before, so I was probably busy either writing my band column and printing the photos to accompany it; additionally, with the Thanksgiving holiday looming, there was probably nothing important going on at the school that was worthy of being photographed.  On the other hand, my time was occupied with other tasks: I had just started “managing” and arranging recording sessions with the musical combo known as Central Rock Company (which is another story entirely) and I had also started writing a serialized adventure story that made its debut on November 19th (which is also another story entirely).  Oh yeah, and there was probably some schoolwork and studying that was in there as well.

And maybe I needed to take a break from taking photos and chronicling the antics of the band, which, at this point, amounted to rehearsals for the upcoming Winter Concert and Pep Band performances, and photos of the band rehearsing don’t actually make for exciting photography. Like this one:
Tri-X Files 84_30.01a: Toy Instrument Rehearsal
(In this photo, Guy, Meena (obscured) and Joe are playing toy instruments for the concert performance of “Toy Symphony.”)

The major clue as to when these photos were taken can be extracted from this photo:
Tri-X Files 84_30.04: The 1983-84 Band Group Photo from the 1983 "Exemplar," plus some stuff on my desk that's actually really important in identifying when this photo was taken
This is a shot of my desk at my home. The original intent of this shot was that I was trying to take a picture of the “official” yearbook group photo of the Model High School Band from last year.  I had obtained this original photograph out of a box of “free” photos that the yearbook staff were giving away, an assortment of random extras that they didn’t need anymore (especially since last year’s yearbook had already been published).  I wanted to be able to make copies of this group photo, but since I did not have access to the original negative, I came up with the brilliant idea of taking a photo of the photo!  However, what I SHOULD have done was get a much CLOSER shot, as well as positioned the camera DIRECTLY ABOVE the photograph, because at this point this is just a shot of a desk.

Top 25 for November 14, 1984However, it turns out that what is important in this shot is what is found directly underneath the photo of the band: One of my “Top 25″ charts.  I go into a lot more detail about these charts in this entry, but the gist is that I was so obsessed with pop music and Billboard Magazine charts in 1983 and 1984 that I hand-wrote a weekly Top 25 chart of my favorite songs for the week, and tracked the movement of these songs on the chart as my tastes changed each week.  The chart that can be seen in the above photo, reproduced in a scan from the original to the right, is dated November 14, 1984 (coincidentally, exactly 30 YEARS TO THE DAY of this posting).  However, the presence of this chart does not mean that this photo was taken on November 14th, due to the presence of a copy of Billboard Magazine as seen on the left of the above photo.  That issue is also dated November 14th.  The EKU Music Library would keep the current issue of Billboard Magazine in their reading rack for one week until the next issue came out, and then they would keep that issue behind the desk for another week before discarding it (they kept a second issue in special reserve for reference purposes until they received the issue in microfilm).  The librarians recognized that I was coming to the library every week to read the latest issue, and so they started giving me the issues after they were discarded.  The presence of the November 14th issue of Billboard Magazine means that this photo could only be taken two weeks after that issue came out, and so the earliest that it could be is November 28th. And if that is the case, then that means that the next photo was taken on November 29, 1984:

Tri-X Files 84_30.05a: Band Members in the Gym Balcony
The presence of this photo on this roll does present a bit of a mystery as far as the dates go. The photo is obviously taken in the corner of the balcony in the gymnasium where the pep band always sat. And there are band members here, with their instruments and the portable music stands and small sheets of music that were used for pep band. But this photo was also taken in the daytime, and the band members are not in their pep band “uniforms” (white oxford, band sweater), so this must have been taken during a pep rally in the gymnasium. It is approximately the right time of the year for the first home basketball game and there definitely would have been a pep rally to promote this event; however, the first home basketball game on the schedule is set for December 4, and there is no way that this photo was taken on the 4th because there are photos later on this same roll that were taken on December 1st.  My only assumption is that this might have been an early pep rally in advance of next Tuesday’s game, or this was a pep rally for one of the away games.

I also like the fact that there is a lot of personality in the above photo.  Joe is very much into whatever is happening on the floor of the gym while Josh seems to be casually interested; Jeff is being a goofball, peeking over Joe’s shoulder, while William is off in another world entirely.  Oddly enough, I never knew any of this was taking place in the original photo; I only enlarged and printed a close-up crop of just Joe (I liked how the music stand crossed his face) and didn’t see any of the others until I scanned in the original negative, 30 years later.

Tri-X Files 84_30.06a: Freezing in the Parking Lot
The next seven photos were all taken (assuming my dates were correct) on Friday, November 30, 1984.  It had been over a month since the band had marched in a parade, and with the last parade of the season looming around the corner, Mr. Stephens felt that the band members needed one more marching practice before the parade on Saturday, December 1, and outside we went.  The Farmer’s Almanac lists the high temperature on this day as 47 with a trace of precipitation, so that certainly fits with the conditions in the photo … on the other hand, the temperature on the day BEFORE was 48 with a half inch of precipitation, so that also fits, and so this photo MIGHT have been taken on Thursday, November 29, 1984.  As stated earlier, I do not definitely know the dates of these photos, but I can get pretty close.

Tri-X Files 84_30.07a: Wandering Around the Parking Lot
The asphalt was not actually frozen over, but it was a little slick and that made marching a little … treacherous.  At the point that this photo was taken, we were just standing around, trying to decide whether or not we were actually going to go through with the practice; this wasn’t our standard discombobulated formation.

84_30.08
The decision was quickly made to retreat back indoors. Lisa and Shay are especially expressive in their joy over this decision.

84_30.09a
Bringing up the rear are Bert and Josh. It would appear that, this entire time, Josh has not stopped playing his trombone, as he appears to be playing in every shot that he has appeared in.  This statement was actually not very far from the truth.

Tri-X Files 84_30.10a: Jon and His Candy Cane
We made it safely back inside to the warmth of the Band Room. I am assuming that this photo was taken on the same day as the attempted marching practice, because here almost everyone is still wearing their coats and jackets. Jon is celebrating the moment by working on a huge peppermint stick. Hey Jon, didn’t anybody tell you that it’s not a good idea to eat something, especially candy, and then play a musical instrument, because of the damage that can be done to the insides? Oh, they did? Very well, carry on.

Tri-X Files 84_30.11a: Mr. Stephens Caught Smiling
Here we have a rare shot of Mr. Stephens, presumably taken on the same day as all of the previous photos. And by “rare,” I mean that Mr. Stephens is flashing the goofiest of grins. All of my other portraits of Mr. Stephens have always featured him looking grim and serious or with a neutral expression befitting a Band Director who demanded respect. I held the camera on him and asked him to just, for once, give me a smile or something. He cocked his head back and gave me a smile that lasted for less than a second; fortunately, my shutter finger was a little bit faster on this day because I got the shot. The original negative ended up with some scratches and blemishes and I was never able to produce a good print of this shot … until now, and the magic of Photoshop.

Tri-X Files 84_30.12: Ranjan and Sarah Hanging Out on the Senior Steps Tri-X Files 84_30.12a: Ranjan and Sarah Hanging Out on the Senior Steps
Here we have a photo of Ranjan and Sarah, presumably taken on the same day as the previous batch of photos. The original shot, on the left, exemplifies my attitude towards photo-taking at the time: It didn’t matter how far away I was from the subject, I always felt that I could crop and enlarge the photo in the darkroom to get what I wanted. On the right is the cropped and enlarged version, in which we have a casual moment of conversation with Ranjan, Sarah, and someone else (possibly Tanya). It is a little fuzzy and no way near as sharp or in focus had I walked up to them and taken the photo; had I done that, however, the photo would then become posed and would lose all sense of casualness. So that was my trade-off: Casual, slice-of-life photo that was a little blurry, or a posed portrait that was clear and in focus. And that was the balance that I was trying to figure out in my photography at the time. Of course, what I really needed was a camera with a zoom lens … THAT would have solved all of my problems.

The remaining photos on this roll were all taken in and around Model High School prior to the Richmond Holiday Parade on December 1, 1984.

Tri-X Files 84_30.13a: Pam and Keith in the Band Room
I got a photo of one band couple (Ranjan and Sarah, in the previous paragraph) so it’s only fair that I include a photo of the other band couple, Pam and Keith.  These kids were just too darn freakin’ adorkable, which wasn’t a word back then, but I can’t think of any other way to describe them.

Tri-X Files 84_30.14a: Kurt and Shay, Open Hands Tri-X Files 84_30.18a: Kurt and Shay, with Instruments
Here we have the first-ever promotional shots that I ever took of the aforementioned Central Rock Company, or CRC, a rock combo consisting of Kurt and Shay (which, as stated earlier, is also definitely another story entirely).  Oddly enough, it never occurred to me to use my photographic resources to take photos of the musical duo for use on album covers and promotional materials, at least not immediately.  At the time, I took these two photos in the context of using them in the Band Yearbook, and only later realized that I could also be using them as CRC promotional shots … and I did, creating handmade buttons using these two photos.

I have absolutely no idea why Kurt and Shay are holding out their hands in the first photo.  I have a vague memory of not wanting to take a typical photo of the two of them just standing there, but I cannot conceive a reason for them to be holding out their open palms in that way (and Kurt appears to be repeating the motion in the second photo).  Are they begging for money and/or candy?  30 years later, I asked the two of them this question, and neither of them could remember.  I mean, geez, it’s ONLY been 30 years!

Tri-X Files 84_30.15a: Prepping for the Parade
The percussionists, plus Ranjan, are lurking in the back of the Band Room, always up to something.

Tri-X Files 84_30.16a: Kurt and the Sousaphone
Keith seems particularly amused at whatever Kurt is doing with the Sousaphone in the back of the Band Room.

Tri-X Files 84_30.19a: Brass Warming Up
Outside the school, the band members warm up for the parade before marching across the street to line up.

Tri-X Files 84_30.20: Warming Up
This particular photo has never been printed or published.

Tri-X Files 84_30.21: Lisa Warms Up
And a quick shot of Lisa warming up to finish off the roll. And that’s it! I would rewind the film, pop the roll out of the camera, place the new roll into the camera, and hand it off to Mr. Stephens, who would be taking the photos of the band marching in the parade. There was no time for me to go back into the school, so I would be marching in the parade with this particular roll of film in my pocket the entire time. Amazingly, it never fell out of my pocket … although, in retrospect, I guess I could have asked Mr. Stephens to carry it …


IN THE NEXT EPISODE (to be posted on Friday, November 28, 2014): The 1984 Richmond Holiday Parade, featuring a number of photos that have never been seen by anyone until now.


The photos that were featured in this episode can be seen in this Flickr set with a lot of additional commentary as well as three images that were not featured in this episode. That’s right, three. I went a little overboard with this one. It should be noted that those three images have never been printed or published until now. As always, you can click on any of the images above for a larger view at the Flickr site.

Tri-X Files Uncut: A separate set featuring all of the original scans from this roll, uncropped and unaltered, in their full frame glory.  Here is the set for this roll.

Season One of the Tri-X Files, featuring photos from my freshman year of high school, can be found at this link.

The Tri-X Files website.

From the Archives: Top 25 Charts

I first discovered popular music in the fall of 1983 during my freshman year of high school. My friend Keith introduced me to the concept of Top 40 radio and I was hooked. I loved every song that came out of the radio and I would spend HOURS after school with my ear to the speaker. Later, once I realized that I could use my tape recorder/radio combo to RECORD SONGS OFF THE AIR, I would sit with the recorder engaged in “record” mode with one finger on the pause button, waiting and hoping that the next song to come on would be one that I wanted to preserve.

Shortly after my initial introduction to pop music, I learned that there was a radio show broadcast on Sunday mornings that counted down the Top 40 songs in the country (and it was hosted by that guy who did the voice of Shaggy from “Scooby Doo”). While making this show a daily ritual of my weekend, I had to wonder how this list of Top 40 songs was compiled; who made these decisions as to how these songs were ranked? There was a mention during the show that the chart was taken from “Billboard” magazine; what was that? A trip to the EKU Music Library yielded the answer: An industry magazine devoted to tracking not only the TOP 100 SINGLE SONGS in the country EVERY WEEK, but also albums and other genres. My obsessive need for data and information took over, and I became addicted to this publication, running down to the library every Tuesday when they received the latest issue (this also allowed me to “spoil” myself as to which songs were going to be playing on “American Top 40″ on the following Sunday). For several months, from the fall of 1983 to the summer of 1984, I knew EVERY SINGLE SONG that was being released and would devotedly track their progress as they made their way up and down the charts.

Top 25 ChartsI became such a superfan of every song that was being released that, inevitably, I began creating my own charts to track MY OWN PREFERENCES for the songs that were out there at the time. Every week, I would take a sheet of notebook paper and, entirely by hand, craft a “Top 25″ chart (I only listed 25 songs because that’s how many lines I had on a sheet of notebook paper). After much internal deliberation and consulting the previous week’s chart and thinking about what new songs I liked this week, I would list my favorite songs, with my most favorite song in the number one slot. Then, I would enter the numerical data from the previous week’s chart for each song’s position along with the number of weeks on the chart, and then the fun would begin as I would do the math and see which songs had moved up, which had moved down, which had stayed about the same, and how high the new songs had “debuted.” Using Billboard’s symbols and nomenclature, I would then mark which songs had “strength” on the chart, based on movement as well as how many weeks they were on the chart.  There was one more statistic that I had to include: How a song’s ranking on MY chart compared with the actual Billboard Magazine chart position for that week.  By this time, the staff at the Music Library had become aware of my obsession with the magazine, and they began saving and giving me the reading copies of the magazine a couple of weeks after the issue had been replaced by a new one, so it was always a few weeks later that I was able to enter the last bit of precious information onto my chart and then I could see how my tastes compared with the rest of the country.

As an example, here is the Top 25 Chart dated November 14, 1984, almost exactly 30 YEARS TO THE DATE of this writing:
Top 25 for November 14, 1984

An interesting trend that can be seen at this time is that I was starting to like more songs that were coming off of albums rather than singles, as evidenced by the songs on my chart which did NOT have a current position in Billboard Magazine. As my taste started to veer towards songs off of albums and not so much for singles, my Top 25 charts became a little less relevant, and I stopped doing a weekly handwritten chart at the end of 1984. On that last chart, five of the Top 10 songs were from The Cars’ “Heartbeat City” album but only one song was the current single and three of them were never released as singles.

I still have every single chart that I hand-wrote on sheets of notebook paper, in the original folder that I kept them in, over 30 years ago.

Image of the Week for 11-10-14

Image of the Week for 11-10-14: Sharing a Pillow
Sharing a Pillow

The Tri-X Files S2E11: November 10, 1984 (Roll 84_29)

In my four years of high school, I took a lot of photos: As a contributing photographer for the school newspaper, as the creator of the “Band Yearbook,” and as an obsessive historian. The majority of these photos were taken using Tri-X 400 speed black and white film, which I developed and printed in the school art room. Now, 30 years later, armed with a negative scanner, I am attempting to reproduce every single Tri-X photo that I took in my sophomore year high school, and to document the events surrounding those photos. This is Season Two of The Tri-X Files, presenting photos taken almost exactly to the day, 30 years ago.


Episode #11: “1 in 23,821″

(Remember, you can click on any of the photos in this entry to see the image in a larger view in the Flickr set)

As the self-appointed “Official Band Photographer” for the Band Yearbook Project as well as a “Staff Photographer” for the school newspaper in the 1984-85 school year at Model High School, I took it upon myself to get involved with every single band event so as to ensure that the moment would be captured and documented (and possibly published).  So when Mr. Stephens announced that the band had been invited by the University of Louisville Band Department to attend their football game on November 10, 1984 against Tennessee State University, I was among the first to sign up.  Never mind the fact that this was not a mandatory band event, it was strictly voluntary and would not count towards a grade in the class or even contribute the slightest bit of extra credit, and involved attending a football game (a sport that, at the time, I did not comprehend in the slightest and it would have been the second game that I had ever been to) … this was an event that involved the band, and I wanted a front row seat.

Tri-X Files 84_29 Contact Sheet
All of the photos on this roll, with the exception of the final two, were taken during this trip.  As evidenced by the contact sheet above, I had a bit of trouble getting the correct settings to take photographs in the football stadium.  I had no problems with photos of the football field but all of the photos taken under the roof of the stadium turned out dark.  Because of this, several of the photos on this roll were never enlarged or printed because they appeared to be way too dark to be salvaged and I didn’t want to waste the photo paper, and did not even know what was in these photos UNTIL I scanned and processed these images for this posting, 30 years later.

(The contact sheet above also contains some extra shots that were not on the original roll.  In an attempt to conserve funds, I would often print contact sheets of my “less essential” negatives across two sheets of 5″x7″ paper instead of on a more costly 8″x10″ sheet.  Since there were only 19 shots on this roll and I had an extra row to fill on the contact sheet, I threw the color negatives from my friend Josh’s Bar Mitzva, which took place on December 21, 1984 … whoops, spoilers!  The presence of these images also indicates that this contact sheet was not printed until the early months of 1985, when I was looking for photos to print for the Band Yearbook Project, which meant that this particular roll was probably developed and then put aside until then.)

Undated letter sent by Mr. Stephens regarding the November 10, 1984 Louisville Trip
Thirteen middle and high school band members ended up going on this trip: Ranjan, a junior; me and Sarah, sophomores; Meena, Bert and Heather, freshmen; Kurt, Mischa and Sebastian, eighth graders; Brent, Nancy, Darlene and David, seventh graders.  It was a good group of kids; I had known most of them throughout my time at school and the younger ones I could tolerate (and, as far as I could tell, they were able to put up with being around me).  I had known Ranjan and Meena since we were toddlers, Heather had been my next door neighbor for almost 10 years, Sarah was in my class (and the subject of a number of photos for the past year), I was just getting to know Kurt from our work, along with Shay, in Central Rock Company (which is something that we will see in a later episode next year), and I was friends with Nancy’s older brother Andrew.  As for the others, I knew more of them than anything else; I knew Darlene and David solely as the banner carriers in the parades, and I knew more about Bert than I really needed to know because he was sorta dating Lisa who I sat next to in both band and Spanish class and had absorbed the information through osmosis.  Mischa, Seb and Brent were pretty much just a bunch of guys to me, although Mischa was distinctive as “that really skinny and tall saxophone player from middle school.”  I would eventually get to know these guys much better.

Although the above letter states that we would be taking two EKU vans, I do not recall that there was a second van because if there was one then I have no idea who the second driver was; there was no way that it could have been Ranjan, and I do not remember another parent going on this trip.  It is entirely possible that all fourteen of us were able to cram into one van.

Tri-X Files 84_29.02a: Helicopter on the Field
I did not take any photos during the journey from Richmond to Louisville, or during the time before the game.  Consequently, without the photographic evidence as support, I have absolutely no recollection of anything that happened along the way or before the game.  The roll starts with us in Cardinal Stadium on the grounds of the Kentucky Exposition Center, the home of the University of Louisville football team in 1984 (and where they would play until 1997 when they moved to their current location in the Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium).  This was only my second football game that I had ever attended, the first being an EKU game, so I really didn’t know what to expect or what I was going to experience. My first impression was that this was a really big football stadium, bigger than any that I had been in before, which was completely true.

Oh yes, and that is a helicopter in the middle of the field.  The mascot popped out of it as part of the pre-game festivities.

Tri-X Files 84_29.07a: Band Members in the Stands
Here are the band members sitting in the stands, occupying two rows of seven seats each (including Mr. Stephens). I had never seen so many people in one place at one time.  This photo has never been printed or published.

Tri-X Files 84_29.07b: Band Members in the Stands, Close-Up
Here is a cropped close-up view of the band members taken from the previous photo, just in case you couldn’t find us.

Tri-X Files 84_29.01a: Crowd at Attention
Another view of the band members in the stands.  This was also the first shot on the roll, and has never been printed or published.

Tri-X Files 84_29.04a: Darlene and Nancy at the Louisville Football Game
Darlene and Nancy, who looks like she is really enjoying herself.

Tri-X Files 84_29.05a: Darlene, Meena and Kurt at the Louisville Football Game
Darlene, Meena (who really looks like she isn’t enjoying herself) and Kurt (who probably had some of what Nancy had in the previous image).  These two photos were taken one right after the other.  I asked Nancy if she could lean back so that I could see Meena and Kurt, shouted out at the two of them, and then took the photo, which is why Meena looks like she was caught a little bit off-guard (either that, or she just realized that I was there and that thought was a little terrifying) …

Tri-X Files 4_29.06a: Halftime in the Rain
The halftime show featuring the U of L Marching Band and the primary reason that we were there. I’m not sure what being “guests” of the band entailed because it certainly did not involve actually doing anything with the band or band-related, such as watching the performance from the sidelines. It probably meant that we got the tickets at a reduced rate, which probably wasn’t much considering where the seats were.

The field appears to be a little wet. The precipitation in the air, combined with the winds gusting through the stadium, resulted in a very chilly afternoon of football.

Tri-X Files 84_29.03a: Mr. Stephens and His Nachos
Here is a portrait of a man who really enjoys his nachos. Mr. Stephens has cited this photo as one of his all-time favorites.

Tri-X Files 84_29.08a: Cuddling in Cardinal Stadium
This is how Ranjan and Sarah looked all day. They were huddling together for warmth. No, really! On the contact sheet, this photo appeared very dark, and so I never attempted to print it or see what it was until I scanned it in.

Tri-X Files 84_29.11a: Sarah Gazes Adoringly at Ranjan
The only other shot of Ranjan and Sarah from this day. I really like this one.

Tri-X Files 84_29.10a: The Other Row of Band Members at Cardinal Stadium
Another view of the band members in the stands, although Kurt is the only one who is actually visible. This particular photo has never been printed or published. Nowhere in any of my photos can I find Bert or Brent, and if I hadn’t listed their names in my article about this trip in The Observer, I never would have remembered that they had gone with us.

Tri-X Files 84_29.12a: Cheerleaders in the Stands and One Amused Fan
Shot of the Louisville cheerleading squad members who came up into the stands to try and perk up the crowd. Also a shot of a creepy dude with a mustache looking at me very judgmentally …

(It should be very telling that this particular photo, out of all the other photos in this set on Flickr, has about 20 times more views, at the time of this writing, than any of the other photos …)

Tri-X Files 84_29.13a: Today's Attendance
This shot of the field was probably taken at the end of the third quarter, as the clock is at zero. The field lights are brighter (having been on all day due to the overcast skies) and the rain seems to have moved on (although parts of the field still appear to be a little swampy). The scoreboard is displaying attendance numbers for the day of 22,821. Hey, that one represents ME! I’m the ONE! Wheeeeee!

Tri-X Files 84_29.14a: One Last Crowd and Sidelines Shot, and Hey There's Meena!
This shot was taken sometime in the fourth quarter. The final score was 24 to 15 with Tennessee State knocking off the Cardinals at home (another loss in what would eventually be a disappointing 2-9 season) and at this point the ending seems certain as people are moving towards the exit.  This photo has never been printed or published.

Tri-X Files 84_29.14b: One Last Crowd and Sidelines Shot, with Meena
I never printed or enlarged the previous photo, so I was quite surprised to discover, after I scanned the negative, that Meena was there in the middle of the shot, with the Louisville cheerleaders in the background.  She certainly seems less nervous now.

(This photo has the second highest number of views on Flickr out of all the photos in the set, undoubtedly because of the keyword “cheerleader” in the text …)

Tri-X Files 84_29.16: Van in Cardinal Stadium Parking Lot
Back at the van in the Cardinal Stadium parking lot, ready to get the hell out of Louisville.

Tri-X Files 84_29.15: Mystery Band Member in a Mysterious Location
This is an odd shot that I did not know existed on the negative because the contact sheet showed a completely dark frame and I assumed it was just a photo that I might have mistakenly taken with the lens cap on. It was only after I scanned the negative that I discovered that something was actually there. It appears to be Heather, and she might be lying on the floor of the van because it is obviously very dark.  I’m not sure what’s going on here.

Tri-X Files 84_29.17a: Really Dark Photo Taken in the Van Coming Back from the Louisville Game
There is also this odd shot on the roll that I also did not discover until I scanned in the negative. It is definitely taken in the van as we are heading back to Richmond and it might be a photo of me, but it is just way too dark to process and so we will never really know.

Tri-X Files 84_29.18: Dick and Donna in Earth Science
The last two shots on the roll were taken in Earth Science, probably on that following Monday, November 12th, 1984, as I was trying to finish off the roll. Here we have our Obligatory Donna Shot, this time with an appearance by Dick, who is holding a dead stuffed bird in his mouth, for whatever reason. Note: The bird was a prop in our Earth Science class and no animals were harmed in the production of this photo.

Tri-X Files 84_29.19: Dr. Birdd's Classroom in Earth Science
The last shot on the roll is of Dr. Birdd’s classroom, a rare photo showing the other side of the room which I so rarely photographed because my seat was at the front of the room.  So many things to remember in this room: The screen in the corner, the shelves of stuff, the cabinet of microscopes.  And hey, look, there’s Meena once again, sitting at that table in the middle of the photo.  She definitely appears to have recovered from whatever trauma she experienced at that football game.


IN THE NEXT EPISODE (to be posted on Friday, November 14, 2014): We skip ahead a couple of weeks and begin our Prelude to the Holidays. The next five rolls were all taken within the span of one week at the beginning of December because a lot of stuff happened in that one week: The Richmond Holiday Parade, the first home basketball game, the Winter Band Concert, and School Decoration Day. But before all that, we have a roll of random photos, the last one for 1984.


The photos that were featured in this episode can be seen in this Flickr set with a lot of additional commentary as well as a few images that were not featured in this episode. As always, you can click on any of the images above for a larger view at the Flickr site.

Tri-X Files Uncut: A separate set featuring all of the original scans from this roll, uncropped and unaltered, in their full frame glory.  Here is the set for this roll.

Season One of the Tri-X Files, featuring photos from my freshman year of high school, can be found at this link.

The Tri-X Files website.

Image of the Week for 11-03-14

Image of the Week for 11-03-14: Classic Halloween Map
A discussion of Halloweens Past lead to the sketching of this map of my old childhood neighborhood (not to scale) and an outline of my general strategy for the maximum amount of candy yield.  Starting from the X, the general plan was to hit the houses along Forest Hill and Lakeshore Drives.  The long stretch of Frankie Drive was generally avoided due to the three big hills based on the logic that it would take more energy to trudge up and down them (the same reason to avoid the section of Lakeshore designated by the two lines), and the two dead-end streets were also no good.  Pleasant Ridge, in general, was skipped because it sloped on a very sharp angle, so coming up from the right side would be a grueling climb; also, the houses were spaced further apart on this street and so there were fewer targets.

It should be noted that my Trick-or-Treating was done entirely on foot; I was never invited to go with those other kids whose parents would DRIVE them to every major residential neighborhood in town.  But during the four hours that were allotted for the event, we still ended up with a pretty good haul.  I don’t know how kids today are managing, especially since I read that Trick-or-Treat in my old hometown was now limited to TWO hours on All Hallows Eve.

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