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Letters - 1978 - February 14 - AFP to Steve Harrison
Rekeyed text of the letter sent by Dr. Arthur F. Pillsbury to Steve Harrison.

14 February 1978 

Mr. Stan (sic) Harrison
P. O. Box 158
Death Valley, CA 92328 

Dear Mr. Harrison, 

Was most pleased to receive your letter of 3 February 1978, and to learn of your interest in “Uncle”. Actually, he adopted us three children, but we always thought of him as Uncle, and always called him Uncle. Also, the court made Aunt AEtheline our Guardian. There had been argument at the adoption proceedings by my mother's family, that Uncle was not a good fiscal manager. (Incidentally, my older brother was killed many years ago in an auto accident. Just Grace and I remain, and you have been in contact with both of us. I don't know of any other living person that knew him over a long period of time.  

When I was a graduate student at Stanford University, about 1929 or 1930, one of the older faculty there told me that Uncle had married the adopted daughter of another retired faculty member in Civil Engineering (he said she was a “rather strange girl”). Very shortly after the marriage, the girl learned that Uncle had established a photographic business in Yosemite Valley in partnership with J. T. Boysen, and expected her to spend her summers there with him. She was furious that he expected her to live such an uncluttered and primitive life, left him, and obtained an annulment of the marriage. Uncle was so upset that he sold his interest in the Yosemite venture for a song to Boysen, gathered all of his cameras together, and took the first ship to Alaska. Other than that he was been in Alaska during its Gold Rush, and had lots of wonderful pictures of that episode in his life, I was never able to learn anything more about it. He would not talk about it. In later life, I never saw the pictures again. 

When he returned from Alaska, he apparently established a bicycle shop in Palo Alto. I don't know if he returned to Stanford as as student again, but at some time he did earn a “Block S” for winning some intercollegiate bicycle rave. He apparently never graduated from Stanford. Maybe he was too restless to get doing things.  

Sometime between his bicycle shop venture, and 1906, he must have invented and built a very large panoramic camera. The film was put in this camera as a half-circle around the periphery of a half-round wooden box, and it made pictures about 11 inches wide and 36 inches long. It had a lens that had a mechanism to rotate it, exposing a narrow slot to the film. It appeared to rotate almost 180 Deg. When I went to live with him in October., 1911, the old camera was stored on a shelf, and was gathering dust, in the back of the garage. It was most ingenious, but rather unwieldy. It had been made largely of hardwood and glue.  

At the time of the 1906 fire and earthquake in San Francisco, Uncle was there, and kept busy taking all sorts of pictures during daylight hours. There were many of the big panoramic shots. He was the only commercial photographer to obtain pictures of the actual fire, and, for about a year afterward, had all of the business that he could handle selling pictures of the earthquake and fire. Then, the bottom dropped out. The Nation was saturated with the pictures.  

Aunt AEtheline had grown up with Uncle in the Auburn area, but she had married a Dr. Duell (spelling?), and had moved to Victoria, BC, where his family lived, and where he established a medical practice. Dr. Duell died early, and Aunt AEtheline moved to the Bay Area with their son, Arthur. (when Arthur finished high school, he went to Bakersfield to earn money for college, working for Standard Oil. He was killed there when a load of pipe dropped on him.) Aunt AEtheline heard about Uncle because of his fame in taking the earthquake and fire pictures. She wrote to him, asking that he and Mrs. Pillsbury call on her. She had heard of his early marriage, but not that it was so brief. Anyway, Uncle did call, and took his mother with him as Mrs. Pillsbury. There followed a brief courtship, and they were married. 

Apparently, there was a brief time after this when Uncle took a job as a photographer for the San Francisco Examiner. About all that I know of this episode in his life was that he had procured a captive balloon and had gone up with his equipment and cameras to take pictures of San Francisco and its waterfront from that balloon. He completed that assignment, was winched down, and had handed the cameras and equipment down, when the rope broke. The San Francisco Examiner came out with an extra about how he would go up and up, and never return to earth. The paper sent a 'sob sister” reporter to Oakland, where they were living, to interview Aunt AEtheline, sine they believed him to be gone forever. When Uncle was planning any adventure that might worry his family, the family knew nothing about it.  

Consequently, Aunt AEtheline couldn't figure out what the interview was all about, and, in the midst of it, Uncle walked in the door, all covered with mud. The sob sister acted as through she was seeing a ghost. Actually, he wasn't worried about coming down – all he had to do was to let some gas out of the balloon. But he didn't want to come down over San Francisco Bay, so had waited until he was over land, and near the railroad tracks. It was over the mud flats; so he got very muddy. But, he flagged down a train, and came on home. Aunt AEtheline told me about this in later years, as she did some of his earlier adventures. But she never told me about Alaska, and I don't know how much she knew of it.  

Sometime before Sept. 1911, when I first knew him, he had gone back to Yosemite and had established a business there in competition with Boysen. Certainly, the business was well established at that time. Also, he had a retain store on Geary Street in San Francisco, and the full top floor of a building on Mission Street, where he had his workshop and dark rooms. His production facilities for both Yosemite and Geary Street were there. It was also where he did the development and building of his many projects then. Aunt Aetheline's brother Jesse Banfield, who had only one arm, managed the studio in San Francisco, and her other brother, George Banfield, worked in the shop. There were other sales people in the Studio, and other workers in the shop, but I never really knew them.  

For the first summer living with Aunt AEtheline and Uncle in 1912, we stayed right there at the hone on Benvenue Avenue, between Alcatraz and Woolsey. That was our home until 1923 when Ernest was away working, Grace was married, and I went off to Stanford. Not long after that Aunt AEtheline and Uncle moved to the hills in north Berkeley. However, beginning in 1913, it became the custom for us three kids to be taken out of school a few weeks early, and to take the train in Oakland to El Portal via Merced. Uncle would meet us at El Portal with his buggy. We would return to Oakland just in time for school, usually some time in August. Apparently, in those days, most people would go to Yosemite in June of July, and even in late May. That was really the nicest time there, with plenty of water in the falls. 

Up in Yosemite, we, and the studio help, lived in tents back of the studio. A lean-to, back of the studio, served as kitchen and dining room, where everyone ate around a big long table. There was a big long cook stove, with a water heater in it, and there was always a good cook handling all the chores of the kitchen. I remember one year when we arrived on May first, a bit earlier than usual. That night I could think of nothing better than to sleep under the stars. I went to sleep right away, after pulling my bed out of the tent. It was morning when I awoke, only to find myself covered with two inches of snow. It was the first time in my life that I had even been close to snow, and you can bet that I was wild with excitement. I also remember one spring when there were particularly heavy floods. Many people were flooded out, and Yosemite Falls, in chocolate brown color, roared incessantly.  

In those early days we never saw Uncle at breakfast, and one of his hired hands was also missing. The hired hand had put a camera and tripod in a knapsack on his back, and peddled a bicycle up to Mirror Lake to take pictures of tourists standing on a rock that jutted into the Lake. In early morning Mirror Lake was almost a perfect mirror, and made a most attractive scene with Mr. Watkins in the background. Uncle had saddled his horse, and Winkey, the pack donkey, and was off to Glacier Point. Apparently, there was a tour that would take people up to Glacier Point in the afternoon, then dinner, overnight, and breakfast at the Mountain House. Then, the people would have time to stroll around, visit the Point, and relax before being returned to the Valley. Uncle would be at the Point to take their pictures on the overhanging rock. Then, the people were given a card and told that they could see the proofs after dinner or later. The evening was always the busiest time at the studio. Some years later it dawned on me that the object was not so much to get people to buy from the proofs, but to get good crowds into the studio, and to be tempted by the wonderful display of pictures in the studio. It was efforts such as that that caused Uncle's studio to do more business than Boysen's, Best's, and Foley's combined. Incidentally, Ellen Boysen and Virginia Best were my sister's closest playmates.  

If there were to be waterfalls in the picture, pictures had to be made in the spring, when the falls were high. Uncle was never satisfied with his pictures, and was always taking new ones. This was particularly true as new film and filters came out so that he could get more and better cloud effects. He might make a decision at a moment, and off we would go. I remember one trip to Lady Franklin Rock, the best spot for pictures of Vernal Falls. We were off shortly after breakfast, parked at Happy Isles, and carried all the gear to be there before 10:30 when the shadows at that time of year were just right. The cameras were all set up, and ready to do, well before 10:30. Uncle watched, and we kids played until he called that the clouds were right. Before too long, the cameras were back in their cases, and we were carrying tripods and cases back down the trail.  

It was about the time we started going to Yosemite in the summer that Uncle started taking motion pictures. He would not say what he had in mind, but we knew that he had some plans. He used a 35mm. Camera, the cover of which was a maple box. It had a rather small and light tripod, in comparison with the professional movie cameras. Later he did have regular professional cameras, but the little original continued to be his favorite, because it was light and quite adaptable to his many uses. As soon as he had accumulated enough film of the major Valley subjects and the High Sierra, he started having free shows on the porch of the studio. He had obtained a lot of folding chairs, a professional projector, and a large screen. Show time was 8pm. He had posters on bulletin boards around the Valley resorts. There was canvas over the porch; so the snow went on, rain or shine. Most important, the studio sales people were always ready as soon as the show was over, and that was when he did his big business. It was one of my chores, so long as I was there, to sweep and police the front porch first thing every morning.  

Uncle was always getting new pictures; so his show changed rather continuously. When we went off with him on a picture-taking trip, the new ones were in the show within a couple of days. The first time I ascended Half Dome, Uncle had organized a hike to get pictures. We and the others went up and down hanging onto a ¼ inch rope. Uncle would be off at the side taking his pictures. I would not have ventured out where he did, but he was most sure footed, and knew what he was doing. Within a few years, twin cables had been strung up the back side of Half Dome, about 3 feet off the rock. That meant a repeat trip, with more climbers – more and better action. We were there, and a still from that trip represented the first and only time that my picture appeared in National Geographic magazine.  

There was one trip up Half Dome that Uncle organized that neither he now we went along. The idea was to have a firefall from Half Dome. Uncle, with us kids helping him carry, were on the shores of Mirror Lake, at a position where he could get a reflection in the Lake. This was a once-only event, because the Park Service was worried about having it at frequent intervals. Also, it could not be unique to a single resort, and the firefalls were quite expensive to put on regularly.  

There were other rather frequent picture taking trips made with Uncle. When the City of San Francisco started excavating for a dam at the lower end of the Hetch Hetchy Valley, and was logging the Valley floor, we were there. There were rather frequent trips over the Pohono Trail, because different wild flowers were in bloom at different times of the year. There were trips up the Long Trail to Glacier Point. There was a trip up by the side of Yosemite Falls, and over to the top of El Capitan via Eagle Point. Then an old mining road was reopened as the Tioga Road, we went over it, taking pictures along the way. There were particularly good pictures at Teneya Lake, Tuolumne Meadows, the Lyell Fork, the Pass, and down LeeVining Canyon. (I recall always spelling it Leevining.) Of course, there was eventually a series of such trips, one over to the May Lake at the base of Mr. Hoffman. Another trip I will long remember was going up the Teneya Trail to a point opposite North Dome, and then threading our way through brush and undergrowth to the top of that dome.  

Uncle always narrated his movies most effectively. We never witnessed it, nor heard him admit it, but he must have done a lot of rehearsing. Soon, he began to get requests to put on shows during the winder in the East. Such trips grew until he had a regular circuit of tours covering several months, and covering Canada and England. At one spot David Curry bought a set of Uncle's films so that he too, could lecture. He wanted to use them to promote Camp Curry. I've heard that Curry's shows were rather good for a year, but he was unable to do as Uncle did – continually get new intriguing pictures each year. So, Uncle's picture taking went on every summer, spring, and fall always getting something new and different.  

The idea of lapse-time picture started in a small way with his maple box camera. For this, he designed and built gearing down equipment, and switches to turn lights on and off for each exposure. He had a variety of motors which he purchased. He had to vary exposures all the way from a few minutes to maybe an hour to fit the habits of the carious flowers and plants used. At the peak, he had about three cameras going at once, each in a separate dark room. He did get some beautiful pictures.  

Next, I recall a venture where he set up cameras for lapse time work, and shot through two tandem microscopes. I was living at Stanford University at that time, as a student, and didn't see too much of this, or of the pictures. However, I did see the equipment that he designed and built. Uncle did give me a copy of his book “Picturing Miracles of Plant and Animal Life,” but have been too busy to read it for many years. Will have to go over it again soon, and then perhaps I'll remember more about his exploits.  

My next recollection is of Aunt AEtheline and Uncle's trip to the South Seas. Twice, when my wife and I visited him, along with our first daughter, Uncle had water-tight boxes under construction for his cameras. The boxes were of brass, with windows for the lenses. There were complicated devices that he was making to control timing, shutter opening, focus, etc. There was also a diving helmet which he bought second hand, and was modified to fit his needs. He had a long hose attached to it, with a hand pump on the other end. He planned to have a boy one the boat nearly to pump him air continuously. According to his account, he had a great deal of difficulty finding the lush and diverse plant and animal life that he needed. He wanted coral in the background. He needed light for his pictures, and lush plant growth has the same need. That restricted him to very shallow depths. He inquired everywhere he could to get the environment that he needed, but found that he had to do a bit of exploring himself to find the right environment. He visited several Islands, and finally found what he wanted at Pago-Pago, which I believe is on America Samoa. Again, I only was able to see him at infrequent intervals, and saw only a few stills, and no movies of this trip. He also had pictures of natives, and some of their ceremonies. I presume that these were also in his movies.  

Uncle was always concerned that he could not make good color pictures. His first attempt towards color was many years ago in his old studio. He made sepia prints on glass, and then poured a mixture of lacquer and fold (bras) powder on the back of each glass picture, and then set each on a rack to drain and dry. The effect, when framed was a most pleasing picture which he called “Dorotones”. They sold very well in the studio. Oddly enough, one of the very few things I ever inherited from his was a small box of small Dorotones made on film. I don't know when these were made, but I never heard of any of these being sold. I presume that it was an experiment that just didn't pan out. When I finish this, I will see if I can find these in my things stored away. If I do, will send you a few. 

Uncle investigated Technicolor when it first came out. This process involves taking three separate negatives with a complex camera leased by Technicolor, and an elaborate printing procedure to get it on one positive. For his purposes, where he wanted, at most, two prints, it was entirely too expensive.  

Towards the very last, Kodachrome came out for still pictures, but not during Uncle's career for movies. However, there was a hand coloring French process that Pathe Film had used. I remember seeing some shorts by this process at movie theaters from time to time. Pathe finally abandoned it because Technicolor was so much getter that it could not compete. Finally, I think bout 1925, Uncle bought all their abandoned equipment, and started the arduous task of using it. For each picture frame there has to be three styluses cut on blank film, one for each dye to be used. With painstaking effort, good color pictures could be obtained, but never any on the films projected. He did use it for his lectures. Again, Jesse Banfield did most of the painstaking work, and Uncle had his first and only color movies. (1921)

When the Park Service ordered the move to the new Village from the old, Uncle had to have an entirely new studio built. It was not feasible to have movies on an out door porch; so Uncle had a theater built in back of the studio, that one had to walk through the studio to reach. This was designed before talkies for the typical silent movies, with an organ in a pit in front of the audience. There were regular movies about 5 nights per week, at lease in the summer, and it was a good attraction for the local people, but not particularly for the tourists who might buy pictures on their way out. There were always some, but not the crowds that Uncle's free shows provided.  

Mention should be made of automobiles. Uncle did not have a car for the first two years that we went to Yosemite. I remember once in Oakland when Uncle came home with a lot of paraphernalia from San Francisco. It would have been either 1914 or 1915. I believe that he brought most home on a Friday night, and the rest on Saturday night. Anyway, on Sunday morning, Uncle and us kids carried the paraphernalia down to the Trolly, and, with some transferring got to some large open fields near Richmond. It turned out to be a big box kite in which he had a camera mounted. If it would work it was a much cheaper way to get aerial pictures than with a balloon. We got the kite to fly, but he was unable to get the separate string that was to be used to operate the shutter to work to any satisfaction. He experimented, and chanted things again and again. Finally, we just packed up and went back home. We never heard about the kite again.  

No cars were admitted into Yosemite when we first went up in 1913. The stages, operating between the Valley floor and El Portal, and used for tours about the Valley, and to Glacier Point, were horse drawn. There were also horse drawn that operated in summer over the Wawona and Big Oak Flat Roads. We traveled in Uncle's buggy, a new times on horseback, but usually on foot. We walked everywhere – all parts of the Valley floor, and up the trails to some part of the rim. Often we went where there were no trails. For all-day trips we took sack lunches, and always carried a folding cup for drinks of water. The next year big bulky truck-stages started operating, and the next, automobiles were allowed in. All roads were just plain dirt. Sprinkling truck kept busy on the Valley floor, but the Wawona Road, the Big Flat Road, and the Coulterville Road, in summer, had dust at least a foot deep. Mr. Desmond, and his grandiose plans had also come into the picture. With the arrival of Desmond, and not necessarily for the better, things changed rapidly. Camp Lost Arrow, between the present village and Yosemite Falls, completely disappeared, as did Camp Ahwahnee, where the 4-Mile Trail left the Valley. 

In this environment, Uncle had to have a car, and selected a Studebaker “Big Six” touring car. It was a good car for the punishment that he gave it,but it had one weakness – the rear axles kept breaking on the steeper slopes. Uncle adopted the habit of always carrying spares under the back seat. He would take out the broken axle, and put in a new one in about 10 minutes.  

The Desmond Company started giving silver cups to the driver of the first car into Yosemite Valley in 1915. Uncle gave it a try that year, but one person beat him. The next year he was a bit more cagy. He secretly made arrangements with the Yosemite Valley Railroad to drive his car over the rails into the Valley. He had tire rims constructed with flanges welded on to match the spacing between the insides of the rails. Everything started off well, but, before too long, the flanges broke off. There was nothing to do but to put the tires back on, and bump over the ties. An official of the railroad went along with Uncle so that he could be well off the tracks before any train came along. It apparently was not an enjoyable ride, but they arrived in Yosemite Valley on April 10th, 1916. They won the cup, and passed, on their way out, a car whose drive, and the men with him, had spent days shoveling snow to get the car through. Desmonds finally gave the driver of that car a silver cup also, for the first car into Yosemite in 1916 “over a regularly traveled road”. Actually, the controversy caused by Uncle's stunt to greatly enhance the publicity for all. That was what the whole thing was about; so all profited from the stunt.  

I remember one fall after we kids had returned from the Valley, and were in school. Some man phoned Aunt AEtheline in the early evening to formally notify her that Uncle's life insurance was cancelled, effective that day. She pressed him for a reason, and learned it was because Uncle had driven his Studebaker out onto the overhanging rock at Glacier Point. We knew Uncle, and we knew the area intimately. It was physically impossible to simply drive a care out there. Approaching the cliff there is a steep rise with large rocks and dense brush. Then, there is a sharp descent that is anything but level. Even the overhanging roack itself is not level. The side away from the pictures is much lower than the near side. As soon as Aunt AEtheline was able to contact Uncle by phone, we learned that there had indeed been a long heavy ramp built, cleverly shortened on the picture side so as not to show. The ramp had deep grooves for the wheels, and there was a large block and tackle attached to thecar, and to a large tree, by which the car was simply inched along. Uncle did have pictures showing all of the precautions taken, and these satisfied the insurance people. However, the only pictures going to the press did not show the precautions, and pictures appeared in newspapers and magazines throughout the Nation.  

It should be mentioned that, shortly after the overhanging rock affair, Uncle drive home in a brand new Studebaker. Actually, this had ben true each time he had worked some good publicity for Studebaker. Not a work was ever said about this to the family, but I have always believed that Uncle must have some kind of an arrangement with the San Francisco dealer for Studebaker. 

Ishould mention that, once Uncle had a car, we ceased to ride on the Yosemite Valley Railroad. Instead, Uncle would normally drive home one day, take are of business in San Francisco on the next, and we would be off to Yosemite early in the morning of the third day. Usually, we went in over the Wawona Road. We would drive south through the San Joaquin Valley until we approached Madera. Where we would turn east varied, but I assume that Uncle knew what road through the foothills was best on any one year. One year Uncle had another man along, I don't remember who we was. Anyway, we made some stops in the Valley, and it was dark when we got up to timber. We stopped for dinner, night, and breakfast at a place called “Miami Loge”. Except that it was in the timber, I don't know where it was. I have been over the roads in that area since, but never again saw it. But we did have an enjoyable evening there.  

In the fall, Uncle always drove us home over the Oak Flat Road because it was so much shorter. One year we did vary that by taking the Coulterville Road because Uncle had some picture taking stops in mind. To us, the highlight of the trip home was a stop at a melon stand by the side of a farm near Manteca. When we left that stand, our feet would be perched on top of melons covering the floor of the back seat. Since luggage was piled everywhere else, that was the only space left.  

Am uncertain as to dates, because I rarely had opportunity to visit the retail and shop-production facilities in San Francisco. Anyway, it must have been sometime in the early 1920s that these operation were closed down. I presume that they were no longer profitable. Also, in early 1924, I was then a student at Stanford, and was working to warn my way; so didn't have time to keep track of all their doings. Anyway, the new hillside home had space under the regular spacious living quarters, for an office, for large laboratory, and for a dark room. Also, the garage below had room for one car, and for a large shop complete with lathe and other equipment. This all was strictly for Uncle's projects. Production for items to be sold at the Yosemite studio was concentrated in Yosemite. Uncle was concerned about the tedious production of post cards. Therefore, he designed and built an automatic printer that could be set for the exposure required, and would then expose a big roll of double weight printing paper without further attention.  

I turned out to be the principal operator of that equipment. First chore was to get a roll going on the printer. Then, I would start in on the developing, then the rinse, then the fixing bath, then the wash, and finally put each roll on a large specially designed drying rack. Rollers were involved with each of these, again, equipment that Uncle had designed and built. After drying, the rolls would be cut up into three pictures on a short strip, piled, and put in a press for a time to make them flat. Then, there was a rotary press to print the usual post card information on the back. The rotary printer was the weak link in the whole process because it was not designed to feed double weight paper properly. Because of this, there was a lot of waste of otherwise good post cards. Uncle tried to modify the machine, but it never really did a good job. While not perfect, the process was a tremendous advance for that time. 

Sometime earlier in Uncle's lecture tours, he became acquainted with a man named Charles Kellogg who was the Orpheum vaudeville circuit. That name could imitate the songs of any bird. He always said that it was not whistling, but singing. We went to the Oakland Orpheum once to hear him, and he gave a beautiful performance. He, too, felt the need to have something new in his show. His dream was to have a home mounted on a truck, with the home made out of a large redwood, log. He was not mechanically inclined and asked Uncle for help. Uncle agreed, and I believe that some wealthy widow who lived on an estate near Morgan Hills financed the venture. Anyway, one winter Uncle and Mr. Kellogg went up the north coast of California for a rather long period. They eventually returned with a truck, and as big a redwood log as could be fitted onto it.  

The log was hollowed out, and like the present day motor homes, the interior was fitted out to serve as living room. Dining room, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. The only thing wrong was that the thing was very difficult to drive. That was long before the day when power assists on steering, braking, etc. on trucks made motor homes feasible. I understand that very often Mr. Kellogg could not get the ting onto stages, but then would put it on display nearby to draw attention to the show. He did use it for one year. Then, because it was so difficult to transport from city to city for the show, put it on display on the property of his sponsor. Regardless, it was truly a forward looking concept and accomplishment. 

Late in the fall of 1927, when Uncle was on lecture tour, I had a letter from the manager of Uncle's studio advising tht there had been a late night fire. That fire had burned much of the lack part of the studio, including the theater, the projection booth, the big work room, the storage rooms, and the dark rooms. The front studio part was spared, but apparently all his negatives, his stok of pictures, and all of the equipment there, mostly his own inventive projects, were gone. It was quite a while before Uncle got hom, but when he did he packed up his personal possessions, sold the studio as is, to the Yosemite Park and Curry Company, and left Yosemite Forever. I never did hear him express a work of regret, although he had lost most of the foundation for his lectures, and a big business. Instead, we heard the stories on what he would do next.  

Shortly thereafter, he heard about a plant scientist at the University of California, Berkeley, who was growing plants “hydroponically.” Water in long tanks was made a nutrient solution by addition of certain fertilizers. There was chicken wire fixed to be suspended just above the water surface. Then, a layer of excelsior was placed on the chicken wire. Ends of the excelsior would dangle down into the water, and capillary action would keep the excelsior wet, but well aerated. This proved to be an excellent growing medium for the roots of many plants. Uncle immediately built green houses at the back of his home, and tarted growing a variety of vegetables, including tomatoes which were spectacular, and flowes, which made a welcome new addition to his lecture tours. Of course, there were lots of movies at regular speed, and lapse-time pictures.  

Uncle always acknowledges that the UC man, I think his name was something like Gerike, had invented the idea, but tht he was in it to “explore the miracles of plant life.” Never-the-less, the man was apparently severely jealous of Uncle, and always tried to belittle him. Actually, Uncle gave fame to the mane, and reated an nation-wide interest in hydroponics.  

Another item of interest concerned Don Tresidder, then a young Stanford student who had worked at Camp Curry in the summers. He had fallen in love with Mary Curry, the daughter of David and 'mother' Curry. He wanted to be in Yosemite for the summer, but not working for the Currys. He got a job with Uncle, who he had come to know. He was a superb salesman in the studio, and was always ready to help anywhere that he could. He joined our meal table, and was truly outstanding, always pleasant, and a most valued addition to the group. Uncle thought Don's features would look outstanding as an Indian. He had costumes made for Don, and for one of the attractive girls that was working in the studio. A lot of movies were taken, but apparently Uncle was not satisfied with them. Some probably found their way into the lecture series, and the stills were a fine addition to the pictures sold at the studio, but I never heard of any other use made of the pictures. Probably, all negative and prints were lost in the fire.  

The above is a brief recount of Uncle's life as I now remember it. It is probable that there are many more details that I could remember after some research. Uncle finally became too old to continue the pact of getting new pictures every year, and of continuing the strenuous lecture tour each winter. He then took a job as a machinist for the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley. All that I heard of after that was how he was contributing to that effort. He kept that job as long as he was physically able. Am now trying to look up the date of his death, but believe that it was about 1940. We did travel from Los Angeles to Berkeley for the funeral. Aunt AEtheline took an apartment in the Claremont District of Berkeley, where she lived the rest of her life. At one time she old me tht she had sold all the equipment tht he had, and what was then his library of films and pictures, but I never knew to whom, and never heard of any of them again. My wife and I were busy with my career at UCLA, and we had our own children (eventually 5), but we did get up to visit Aunt AEtheline from time to time, until she, too passed away. 

I do remember, about 1938, seeing Aunt AEtheline and Uncle off on a freighter that carried passengers for a trip to somewhere. We had dinner with them aboard ship, but for the life of me, I can't remember the purpose of the trip, or where they were going. It's just one example of one of the things that I've forgotten.

In short, Uncle was one of the moset vigorous men that I have ever known. He was marvelously inventive, with exceptional mechanical skill, and always busy. He was most kindly and considerate, but there was no fooling around with him. There was no one that I ever respected more.  


Arthur F. Pillsbury 

P. S. My wife remembered a small bunch of flower photos that we happened to have. As enclosed two that are duplicates. The watercolor work was by Aunt AEtheline.