August 2011


PHOTOGRAPHY AS A HOBBY:
Cynthia’s Advice to Beginners
“Around the Table,” Halifax Daily Echo,
Monday, May 12, 1902.
by
Lucy Maud Montgomery

Amateur photographers have to suffer a good deal of equally amateur joking, but when all is said and done there is really no “hobby” which has such a fascination or out of which more pleasure can be extracted. Of course one must be in earnest about it and not be a mere dabbler.

Montgomery's "Weird Friend" picture

There is nothing beautiful about a weird snapshot of your friends or a slap-dash exposure where the houses come out slanted at an angle that surpasses the leaning tower of Pisa. But a really pretty bit of scenery, nicely furnished and properly mounted, reminiscent of a pleasant summer day’s walk or outing is a thing of beauty and a joy forever. Several friends of mine have recently invested in cameras and have asked me for some advice regarding the use and abuse of them. So I will give a few pointers from experience.

In amateur photography, even more than anything else, the golden rule is “carefulness.” You simply can’t be careless if you would succeed in producing photos worth having. The most trifling oversight will sometimes spoil a good picture. If you make your exposures in a slap-dash style, if your darkroom leaks light, if your hypo solution is not kept religiously apart from your developer, if you do or leave undone a hundred other things you will fail to obtain good results.

Collection of Montgomery's landscape shots

In starting out, don’t attempt too much at first and recklessly expose half a dozen plates before developing one. Make haste slowly. A 4 by 5 camera is large enough for a beginner. Get all the supplies necessary, for, of course, you will not be content to be a “button pusher,” but will do your own developing and finishing. Above all, get a good darkroom lantern. Misplaced economy here will result in worry and disappointment. In spite of some opinions to the contrary, I think a beginner would do well to commence with a slow brand of plates. Indeed I like the slow plates best at any time. I consider that they yield more artistic results.

In your darkroom have a place for everything and keep everything rigidly in its place. Dust your plates before putting them in the holders. A camel’s hair brush is used for this, but, if some time you can’t find it, draw the palm of your hand softly over the plate, taking care that it-your hand-is quite dry. If you are ever where you cannot gain access to a darkroom and yet want to change plates, here is a plan I have followed with success. Get into a windowless closet, sit on the floor and get somebody to put right over your head a heavy quilt-a red one if possible. Then have the door shut tightly and change your plate. In summer this is a fearfully warm job, but it is better than getting your plates light-struck.
Choose your view carefully with an eye to light and shade effects. You will always get better results by using a tripod and taking time exposures, although of course this requires more skill. In regard to exposures no cut-and-dried formulas are of any use. The time is regulated by the strength of light and the kind of plates used. In this you must simply learn by making mistakes. Do not take pictures between eleven and three o’clock. The results are never so good.

In developing don’t under-develop. A beginner is fatally apt to, getting alarmed when the picture begins to fade and whisking it out of the solution. Leave it until very dim and indistinct. Wash well before putting in hypo. The use of an alum solution will prevent “frilling”-which means that the film curls up around the edges of the plate. In cold weather you will have no trouble with this. After your plate is taken out of the hypo, soak it in water for half an hour. If not in running water, change the water six times. This is very important as the least bit of hypo left on the film will eventually spoil it. Above all things, be thorough. Don’t be content with “good enough.” Aim at the best.
A pretty effect may sometimes be obtained in a landscape picture by cutting out of white paper a tiny new moon and pasting it properly on the glass side of the negative. The result is a “summer moonlight scene”. You can take pictures by moonlight, by the way. The exposure calls for hours instead of seconds. Generally the result looks more or less like a foggy plate exposed in the usual way, but very beautiful effects have been obtained in this way. However, I do not advise beginners to attempt it.

If you want to take a “winter moonlight scene,” here is how you go about it. Take an ordinary negative of some landscape. Don’t have leaf trees in it. Evergreen trees and an old farm house or so make the best picture for this. Place it in the printing frame, film upward. On top of this place a fresh plate, the two film sides together and back them with a bit of black cloth for greater security. Then hold frame about 18 or 20 inches from gas jet and turn up gas quickly. Time of exposure will vary from 2 to 20 seconds, according to character of light, plate, and negative used. After exposure develop the plate as usual. It is called a positive. Paste a full moon in proper position on its back and print off. The sky will come out black while the ground and trees will be white with-apparently-snow. The effect will be very pretty. I may add that your “positive” is also a magic lantern slide.

Montgomery self-portrait

Sometimes your camera will play you very odd tricks. I have had some curious pictures result from accidentally exposing the same plate twice. This is how “ghost” pictures are made. Once I took a picture of two girlfriends of mine standing side by side. Later on I happened to re-expose the same plate on a landscape view. The latter came out very well. The girls were also there, wan, transparent figures with all the background clearly visible through them. It was apparently a perfect picture, which, of course, does not often result by chance.

Well, I hope you will get a great deal of pleasure out of your cameras this summer. It will be your own fault if you don’t, be sure of that.

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Having been back in the glorious States for less than a week, I still have on my mind all the differences between America (Indiana) and Canada (PEI). In addition to the exchange rate, which used to be in our favor (Alas, no more…), there are a number of things to know that might make a trip to Prince Edward Island a bit easier (in no particular order.)

1. You can cross INTO PEI on the Confederation Bridge for free. Getting off will cost you $43.50. The Ferry is the other option. (We didn’t take it, so I’m not sure of the cost.)

Downtown Charlottetown

2. There are only two cities in PEI: Summerside and Charlottetown, both in the center of the island–about 30 minutes apart. Gas is cheaper in either of these locations by about 2 cents a liter. Also, you can find large grocery stores (Sobeys), American Restaurants (McDonalds, Burger King, etc.), and Large Department stores (Old Navy, Walmart, etc.).

3. Speaking of gas, it impressed me that in the entire three weeks we were there, gas only changed in price once–and then by 2 cents a liter. Not like here, where it varies 30 cents/gallon driving across town. (It did, however, annoy me that none of the pumps had the little switch allowing you to prop the gas on, so you had to hold the nozzle the entire time…Yes, we’re spoiled.)

4. Speaking of cities, a frustration we found is that the majority of small towns are not listed on the GPS, so it is difficult to type in an address when the town the address is in does not exist (according to the GPS).

5. Additionally, the highways labelled on the map have different names when you are driving around, (i.e. Highway 11 may be Allen Road–and four others along the way) so pay careful attention to the maps provided by visitor centers–you can USUALLY figure it out. Also, you can occasionally (at times when the road is listed) search by intersection.

6. Though the GPS may be utterly useless in many respects, it is helpful for those of us with cars and brains not experienced in calculating kilometers. Letting the GPS be your speedometer is very helpful.

7. Also, you will never (unless you are speeding) go over 60 mph anywhere on the island (90 kms). Many places are about 35 (50). And the speed may go from 50 km to 90 and back to 50 in a matter of a half mile.

8. The temperature may also go from 50 to 90 degrees (Fahrenheit) in a day as well.

9. In the area of dining, you have the options of grocery stores, “Lobster Suppers” (usually consisting of seafood chowder, lobster, mussels, potatoes, rolls, and lemon meringue pie), restaurants (only the cities offer the typical American names), home baking, and fruit/vegetable stands. All are good (though restaurants are pricier than their American varieties.)

Cavendish Beach

10. Beaches: There are certain ones that are open to everyone and ones where you have to get a “beach pass” to drive the road to get to them. Our lodging had free beach passes you could pick up. Otherwise, the attendants usually leave around 6/6:30, so if you’re going out to watch the sunset, the guards have left the station, and you can go anywhere you want.

11. Mosquitoes are horrible, and many of the beaches have poison ivy, so spray well and watch where you explore.

12. For entertainment, pick up a magazine called The Buzz, or find it online at http://www.buzzon.com. Ceilidhs are offered somewhere on the island every day of the week. All have a charge to get in (usually $8-15 for adults and $3-10 for kids depending on age) and feature a variety of musical styles. Avonlea Village has one of the regular evening groups play throughout the day (included with price of admission), and the Preserve Company in New Glasgow offers a “free” lunchtime Ceilidh, where you’d either have to buy lunch or stand outside to listen.

13. Beach trails are marked by a starfish or a picture of a beach and Green Gables trails are marked by a picture of Green Gables. Roads stating “No Exit: Impasse” lead to the beach, but you probably have to park on a dirt road or in the grass.

14. If you charge something to your credit card, in addition to the exchange rate, you will be charged a “Foreign Transaction Fee.” In some cases, this is an additional 10%. Taxes on purchased items are also well over our Indiana 7%.

15. It’s called a Washroom, not a restroom or bathroom.

16. Trash comes in 3 varieties: Waste, Compost, and Recycle. Occasionally, there will be pictures to help you determine what goes where.

One farm view

17. Additionally, there are 4 main regions of PEI. Top to bottom takes about an hour and a half to get to, side to side takes between 3 and 4. Charlottetown and Summerside are about 30 minutes apart and mostly in the middle.

18. There’s a line from Anne and Gilbert: The Musical which states, “And if you think your farm, it has the finest view, you’re Island, you’re Island through and through.” Driving around, it’s easy to see why each farm thinks their view’s the best. Anywhere you go will be a treat.

Hope this helps those planning a visit. It’s well worth it!

Hannah Duston Statue

I hadn’t expected to be writing so soon, but I had the opportunity on the way home yesterday (8/12/11) to stop by the Haverhill, Massachusetts Historical Society to check up on one of my ancestors. We have long taken pride in the fact that we are descended from Hannah Duston (Dustin) of history book fame (Mary Neff was her midwife, if you’ve heard that side of the story.)

For those who are unfamiliar with that event, it took place in March of 1697. Hannah and her husband Thomas lived in Haverhill with their twelve children, the youngest only a few days old. One day when Thomas was out in the field working with the children, Indians started to attack. He sent the children up to the garrison then went to get his wife, but quickly realized he wouldn’t have time to save her and their new baby, so he followed the children, holding off the Indian party that had followed them.

Rendering on Thomas defending the kids

Back at the house, the house was ransacked and Hannah and Mary were made to dress and go with the Indians. Along the brutal march, the new baby was crying, so one of the Indians took her and smashed her head against a tree in front of the horrified Hannah. Over the next few days, they were marched and threatened. They were also joined by a fourteen year old captive named Samuel. Hannah was determined to escape, especially after seeing the treatment of her baby and hearing the stories of expected treatment in Canada.

Rendering of the slaying of the captors

The opportunity came after Samuel had asked one Indian how to scalp people. The Indian proceeded to explain in great detail how a victim was struck and the “proper method of scalping.” Samuel passed this information on to the ladies who began to watch for an opportunity. One night, the Indians let their guards down. They were sleeping soundly, convinced Samuel was like family and the two women to weak to escape. The three positioned themselves around the Indians. On Hannah’s signal, they quickly killed ten of the twelve Indians (two awoke and fled, wounded.) Hannah, Mary, and Samuel took provisions, a gun, and the tomahawks and headed out in their captor’s canoe. Realizing their story was too incredible to be believable, they returned and took the scalps of their victims for proof and bounty. Eventually, they were able to make it back home and rejoin their families. They later made it to Boston to claim a bounty offered for Indian scalps.

Artifacts of Hannah Duston at the Buttonwood Historical Museum

While driving through Haverhill, we got to visit the museum which housed various artifacts from the Dustons including a bullet pierced window, a scrap of cloth torn off her garment as she escaped, a ring, a few tomahawks, a small Bible, and Thomas and Hannah’s confessions of faith. We also got to visit the statue dedicated to her. It was an amazing reminder to me that we come from a long line of survivors. Thomas and Hannah’s oldest daughter Hannah married into our family line. It was also a reminder of the fact that everyone has a story, and there are many more legacies to be found.

This (8/10/11) is officially out last full day in Prince Edward Island. Dark and early tomorrow morning, we will be headed for home. I’m sure there will be a few stops along the way–perhaps on our way home. This afternoon, we headed to Green Gables where the cast of Anne and Gilbert performed a few selections from the musical.

Cast of Anne and Gilbert at Green Gables

It was stunning, despite the challenges of a cramped stage. The girls worried in vain that the cast wouldn’t remember them, but everyone did, so they were able to take pictures with everyone in costume. The cast remained around after the show to talk to the crowd, hand out free tickets for children, and pose. Each was so kind and caring–truly doing the company proud. Check out their website at: http://www.anneandgilbert.com/index.php

Belmont School restored in Avonlea Village

We packed in the middle of our day before heading out for our last Wednesday Evenings with L.M. Montgomery. On the way, I had learned a few more Montgomery sites from my recently purchased guide book, so we decided to check some out. We were going to head to Belmont which boasted the Belmont school where Montgomery taught and two privately owned houses where she boarded, but when we were running short on time, we decided to forego it. Also, we remembered that we had seen the Belmont school in Avonlea Village, so the picture in the guidebook was taken before the move.

Marker at the Bideford School Site

We did, however, find the location of the Bideford school. It had been destroyed long ago, but they had erected a monument there to commemorate the place. Now, it is in the middle of a small community park. The location contains the monument, one stone chair?, an old outhouse, the remains of a pump, and one small picnic table. Just down the road from the Bideford Parsonage Museum, the site makes it easy to imagine Montgomery walking the path to and from school every day. We took the road from the school back to the Bideford Parsonage Museum.

The Wednesday Evenings with L.M. Montgomery meeting was a treat as usual. The hostess began by reading some selections from Montgomery’s journals in which she discussed both the writing of The Story Girl and when she received the published copy seven months later. She mourns the fact that both her grandmother and (Someone else–they said at the meeting it was her cousin Frederica, but she died in 1919–8 years later) couldn’t read the story and wonders if she’ll ever write again. Thankfully, she did. We then read a selection of The Story Girl: Two chapters, which were “A Dread Prophecy” and “Judgment Sunday.” They were lots of fun to perform–at least for our family who captured the principle roles of Beverly King/Narrator (Me), The Story Girl (Abby), Cecily King (Halla), and Aunt Janet (Mom).

Bideford Parsonage Museum

It was another delightful evening, and a bittersweet one. We have truly enjoyed learning and reading together in this small community of enthusiasts, and we will sorely miss being here–especially as next week will be a special presentation by Christina Wyss Eriksson, author of The Anne of Green Gables Treasury. (Robert Montgomery had recommended for us to meet her.) We have dearly loved our time on PEI, and it will be interesting to see how this project continues to unfold.

So, we journey on...

Thanks to all who have come along for the ride. It will continue–though not daily, as I can no longer afford to be up til 1-2 every evening assembling my day’s adventures. I will continue to post poems of Montgomery’s, as well as Robert Bolling’s, with some of the pictures I took to illustrate them. Additionally, I plan to visit Ontario over Fall Break to pick up that piece of Montgomery’s life. In the meantime, I will continue to post the various and sundry people who have left a legacy worth hunting for–wherever I find them to be lurking.

Having just procured a guidebook of important “Anne” places (albeit one published in 1998), we decided to set out today in search of “Anne’s House of Dreams.” It actually is not a Lucy Maud Montgomery site, but the guidebook described the loving care the owner had taken to decorate it like Anne and Gilbert’s house, and had even gone to the trouble of reconstructing the Avonlea School House. I was anticipating a fun “off the beaten tourism path,” but got nothing of the sort.

Anne's House of Dreams

We arrived at a run-down building next to a golf course. “Surely not…” I went into the golf store to ask. The woman running the store informed me that the house hadn’t been open for a long time, and that all the furnishings were gone. I asked whether she thought I should inquire of the people there and take pictures. She very firmly told me, “No. There’s nothing there.” Her firmness interested me (As did the fact that she claimed there had never been a tea room there (Something else the guidebook said), while the sign for the golf club boasted “Tea Room” on the back.), but I decided not to pry (this once). Besides, she could see me from the window if I walked over. So, instead, we pulled down the street, took a few pictures (out of sight of her window), then headed off.

Desks and slates in the Lower Bedeque School

With “Anne’s House of Dreams” dashed, we went back out to Lower Bedeque to investigate the school house. The guidebook explained that the house where Montgomery boarded was near the school house, and on our previous trip, we hadn’t been able to go inside. The museum was very fascinating. It was an amazing example of the love of a community and other countries. The school house had been completely dilapidated with walls falling in. The community decided it’s legacy should be preserved, so they undertook working on it. Somehow, the plight became known to Montgomery fans from Japan (who incidentally have been a major support to every place “Anne” related–There’s even a room in the Anne of Green Gables Museum dedicated to the contributions of the Japanese.) A pair of sisters from Japan involved their community group and ended up raising thousands of dollars to help restore the schoolhouse. Their correspondence is on display at the museum. The museum also contains costumes worn in the “Anne of Green Gables Musical,” a list of teachers who taught at the school (including Montgomery), and original desks and slates. The staff was incredibly friendly and helpful. Additionally, it is one of the free (donation based) museums.

The dashing Herman Leard

The staff directed us to the home where L.M. Montgomery boarded, but informed us it was family owned, so we could take pictures but not disturb them. From what they shared, it seemed like the house was owned by the Leard’s. Lucy Maud Montgomery boarded with them and fell in love with their son Herman, breaking off her engagement because of him. By Maud’s account, she never could have married him because he was “beneath her.” According to the staff of Lower Bedeque, the Leard’s story was that Maud threw herself at him, and he was engaged to someone else and indifferent to her. They shared that Montgomery stated in one of her journals that “He would never love her as she loved him.” It was interesting though–wish I could hear that story first hand. But, there was another name of the mailbox, so we decided to continue on.

Leard House viewed from the road.

We had found a coupon for free tickets to Anne and Gilbert: The Musical, and since it was the girls’ favorite and they had begged to see it again, we decided to do so. As we were sitting in the parking lot eating dinner, four of the cast members drove in. My nieces were beside themselves, so we went to get a program for people to autograph and waited for them to reappear. One of the actresses we talked to told us where to wait after the show to meet the cast. The musical was incredible again, and after the show, we headed to the designated spot. The cast was all amazingly kind, signing both girls programs.

The girls with the "Anne and Gilbert" cast

I’m not sure how many “repeat attenders” they get, but they were thrilled that the girls loved the play enough to see it twice in a week’s time. They also told us that they will be performing a few songs from the play tomorrow at Green Gables, which is right across the street from us. So, in addition to packing the car to go home and the Wednesdays with L.M. Montgomery, we’ll have something fun to do.

Well, it was another rainy day in PEI today (8/8/11). I headed back to Charlottetown, this time in pursuit of Holland College (formerly the Prince of Wales College when Lucy Maud Montgomery attended it–apparently, they’re changing the name back.)

Rainy day view from the window

It was POURING when I arrived at Holland College, but I did manage to get a picture of the archway boasting the slogan “Ich Dien” over the door. Lucy Maud mentions it in the Valedictory address she wrote for James H. Stevenson: “Let us take the sublime yet simple motto as our own: ‘Ich Dien–I serve’ And let us serve–not ignoble ends, petty factions and the darker passions of human nature, but rather acknowledge as our masters only the noblest thoughts and motives, the highest aspirations, and the kindliest feelings between man and man. Such a servitude would be glorious indeed.”

Arched Entrance of Holland College

During the summer, there are not a lot of faculty around Holland College, so I went in the first lighted office I could find. The staff there had no information on the onb campus information about Montgomery, but kindly helped me find me to the bookstore. There was nothing covered in the history of the college, but it was a recent history, so that was a dead end. The bookstore clerks gave me the names of two Montgomery scholars before the fire alarm sounded, cutting off our conversation, and we had to evacuate the building. It was still raining.

Luckily, I exited the building directly across from Montgomery Hall. There were no dormitories in Montgomery’s time at the college, but this one was named for her when it was built. As a matter of fact, the building she was in (which she complains in the valedictory address was too small and pleads that “the powers that be will see fit at no distant day to provide us with a more commodious building”) was a wood building in the style of the Confederation building. She eventually got her wish six years later in 1900 when the wood building was replaced with a stone building. Then, in 1932, ten years before Montgomery’s death, the building burned down, and is now replaced by the modern campus.

Montgomery Hall Prince of Wales Campus

Leaving the campus, I set out in search of the PEI Museum where one of my recommended targets was to be working. After typing the address into the GPS, I arrived to find, not a museum, but a food pantry. I drove to the end of the road and the sign boasted the Museum at a different address than the internet claimed. I drove back down the street only to find, not a museum, but a large, orange warehouse. It had a keypad entry, and though there were three cars in the parking lot, no one answered my knocks. So, things must have changed.

Target number 2 was supposed to be “in North Rustico by the wharf. It’s next to the Blue Mussels Restaurant. She’s the house on the right with a fence.” Upon arrival, the only “house on the right” had no fence and was a summer cottage (Again no answer when I knocked, but no cars either.) I knocked on two more doors (still in the pouring rain) before admitting defeat (and it was getting close to the time I said I’d be home.) I drove by Jem’s Books and picked up a guidebook (admiring their collection of British Harry Potters), stopped by and purchased some “home baking,” and went home.

Today's haul of Agate

We decided to go sea glass looking again. This time, we headed to swimming rock (little luck–very rocky shore), then out to Cavendish Beach. Instead of Sea Glass (And driftwood, which was now on my list of things to find), we found tons of agate, so we spent about an hour there (getting soaked), and came home. I tried to Google the two targets I was given, and I discovered they are both published authors and major speakers, so finding them might not be as easy as I was led to believe. We’ll see. Thanks to the guidebook, I have a few more sites to peruse before departure on Thursday.

I don’t actually believe in luck, but I do believe wholeheartedly in Divine Providence, and today (8/7/11) was one of those days when God allowed everything to work out at exactly the right time to give me a really cool experience.

Ingleside (Pulpit stone is left front)

We began the morning attending the Cavendish Baptist Church. Montgomery didn’t attend church here, though she did come to social events. She also took a number of pictures of the building and discussed it in her journals.

After that, we had intended to just drive around and check out some of the shops and look for sea glass. We were well on our way of doing that when we drove to the Green Gables Museum (Silverbush) to ask about where a particular beach was. Right across the street, there was a man sitting outside. As a bit of background, the cashier at the Birthplace had told us that if we really wanted to know about Lucy Maud Montgomery to check out the house across from the Green Gables Museum. She said that man was a great source of information. When we had previously asked at the Green Gables Museum, we were told he had had heart surgery and not to disturb him. But, when he was sitting outside…we risked it!

Robert Montgomery and his wife outside of Ingleside.

I had an amazing opportunity to interview Robert Montgomery–the first cousin once removed of Lucy Maud Montgomery (His father was her first cousin). He shared that their house is the model for Ingleside where Anne and Gilbert lived after they were married. It was the childhood home of Montgomery’s father, and Maud visited many times to see her relatives there. There are several ways people have identified it as Ingleside–number of rooms, view of the Cape Tryon Lighthouse, ham hooks in the kitchen, and the U drive (non-existent now, but put in by Grandfather Montgomery (one of the first Senators in the new province of PEI) as a way for his political friends to be dropped off easily. Most significantly, “Ingleside” boasts the green china dogs placed on the mantel at Anne and Gilbert’s.

Model of Magog--available at the bookstore

I asked him if he had ever met Montgomery, and he explained that he had been born in 1940 and Montgomery’s last trip to the island was 1939; then, she died in 1942. He said that he grew up when her popularity was the lowest, due to the fact that no new books were coming out, and TV wasn’t around to pick up the series yet. He did say that his older sister was 14 when Montgomery last visited. She remembers that Montgomery loved to pick up pieces of dried driftwood on the beach. Then, she’d come home where she had asked that a fire be lit, regardless of the temperature. Robert’s sister shared that Maud loved dropping the pieces of driftwood on the smoldering coals where they would turn the colors of the rainbow due to the salt and sulfur. She said Montgomery was absolutely entranced. (I’m going to have to try this…)

Rosebud spray tea set

After the interview, he offered to show me around the house, which contained the Rosebud spray tea set (made in Austria in 1850) belonging to Grandmother Montgomery (Marilla’s rosebud set is modeled after this). In one of her journals, Montgomery confides that her favorite thing to do was hold the china up to the window and see her fingers through it. He demonstrated how they show through–apparently, this is a mark of especially fine china. Unfortunately, he had taken a number of things to storage because of his surgery (including the actual green china dog Magog (Gog had taken a fall and broken previously) and their first editions.) We did get to see the room, containing its original furniture, where Montgomery stayed on her visits. Ingleside also boasts the grandfather clock and the pulpit stone referred to in The Story Girl. The house should reopen next week if Robert’s feeling better, so other visitors will be able to share in the experience–though not if you come in a tour bus. Robert doesn’t want a lot of visitors since this is his childhood home and he doesn’t want to rope off rooms or have things destroyed. The experience was an invaluable one!

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