BY JIM COLTON
It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog. It seems like I find more reasons to not write one than write one. And I blame myself for that. I’ve become a bit complacent in the autumn of my years. Much has happened in my life recently and I’ve found less time to do things than I used to...or at least I perceive it to be that way. I feel like I’m busier now than when I was working full time! That’s not the way it’s supposed to work is it?
It’s Thanksgiving night, and so many memories have poured through my head today. Images of ritual November gatherings in a cabin nestled in the Adirondack mountains...a feast prepared by my brother Jay who would arrive days before to prep...turkey with all the trimmings for about 20 people sitting at a table only meant to seat 12 at best...and my father Sandy, holding court at the far corner...remarking at how big the grand kids have gotten...and how old I was getting! And it was deemed...that every year...there would be an annual Christmas card photo taken, and if we were lucky, it would contain snow!
As I give thanks on this day of giving, I am blessed by all the lives that have touched me, guided me, and shaped me into who I am today. Even though so many of them are no longer on this earth, they are still with me, in that special place in my heart reserved for all that is good.
We have just lost another legend from our industry, Wally McNamee. I had the honor of working with Wally during my combined 17 years at Newsweek magazine. Simply said, Wally was a class act. A photographer’s photographer...a true professional...and one of the funniest guys I have ever known. His “Newsweek Calculator” story (http://www.newsweekmemories.org/mcnamee.html) will go down in photo history as one of the most hysterical --- and typically Wally --- stories that you will ever hear!
In 1984, before the start of the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, a small group gathered for lunch in a local Mexican restaurant that had the approval of LA staff photographer and resident connoisseur Lester Sloan. After a fine meal, our group of about six, all who had just about licked the plates clean, was approached by the waiter who asked, “Was everything all right?” Wally, looked him dead in the face and said, “That was just awful!” The waiter was stunned, until a few seconds passed...and the trademark Cheshire Cat grin crept upon Wally’s face and he broke out into his familiar and hearty “Heh...Heh...Heh.”
Whether it was grinding it out on 20 hour days at the Olympics, or riding shotgun with 8 photographers and a correspondent trying to invade Grenada in our own Lear Jet, or cranking out a cover story on Texas that featured all his images including the cover shot of the Kilgore Rangerettes, it was an honor and a pleasure to edit his film.
His photograph of Leonid Brezhnev, ogling Jill St. John at a Washington DC function, hangs proudly on the wall in my office at home. I will fondly remember him calling me “Jimmeh,” in his deep Southern drawl. So, on this day when we give thanks, I say with great fondness, to one of the photographers I always admired and respected...“Thank you...“Walleh!”