Sunday, June 22, 2008

Lost lovers reunite

From our stories by Maureen Wallenfang:

"He fell in love with her in the summer of '42, in the months before he went off to war.

Don Spooner, then 21, and Shirley Brown, then 17, spent their last day together on the shores of Lake Michigan. He snapped one last wistful photo of 'Shirl,' as he called her, sitting on the sand.

She was his first true love, but he didn't propose because he didn't know when, or if, or in what condition he would return.

'We talked about getting engaged before I went overseas, but if I came home without an arm or a leg, it wouldn't be fair to her,' he said.

They wrote for about a year while he was an Army medical corps driver stationed in New Hebrides in the South Pacific's Mariana Islands.

But communication broke off when he became ill with malaria and hepatitis, and was shipped to a hospital in Auckland, New Zealand. 'I pert near died,' he said. Mail traveled very slowly, by boat, and he wasn't able to write for many months.

He was gone for a total of three years, and after they lost contact, she made the decision to move on and married another.

The two never spoke over the next six decades, but it wasn't the end of their long-ago love story.

Last month, Spooner discovered two 78-rpm records in his old army trunk. The records, plus some caring co-workers and modern technology, helped connect the dots.

On Saturday, the two will see each other again for the first time in nearly 66 years."

I felt fortunate to spend some time with the couple on the first day they had seen each other since they were separated by war.

"'I felt like the years had just disappeared,' [Shirley] said about what she felt when [Don] answered the door. 'It was like seeing him again in the old days.'

There were no tears, but plenty of smiles and a few jokes about perhaps ordering an oxygen tank. They sat on a couch in his living room holding hands."

Covering the farm market...

I don't know what it is about farm markets, but sometimes they can be difficult. It's just a marketplace. Just people selling things.

When you're really into the local/organic-produce-thing on a personal level, it's even harder. A great farm market is not necessarily a photogenic farm market. Athens, Ohio has a great farmer's market. But I don't find it to be photogenic at all.

Appleton's farm market is really more than decent, both in respects to buyer experience and photogenicity (oh yeah, I made that word up!). Look below and tell me those aren't the most perfect looking strawberries you've ever seen in your life...

Laura Hauer of Appleton, a senior at Lawrence University, plays Telemann's "Fantasie" on the violin for the masses at the Downtown Appleton Farm Market in Appleton, Wis., Saturday morning, June 21, 2008.

Pat Vik of Appleton walks through the Downtown Appleton Farm Market with a fresh bouquet in Appleton, Wis., Saturday morning, June 21, 2008.

Green onions sit on display for sale at the Downtown Appleton Farm Market in Appleton, Wis., Saturday morning, June 21, 2008.

Strawberries of Neenah's Oakridge Farm photographed at the Downtown Appleton Farm Market in Appleton, Wis., Saturday morning, June 21, 2008.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


I have no idea how a festival called "Chickenfest" originates in Dairyland. Oh well...

Friends Alex Curtin, 6, second right, and Adasen Parrett, 8, far right, both of Darboy, participate with other children in a Chicken Dance contest at Chickenfest in Darboy, Wis., Friday evening, June 20, 2008.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Back to the raceway

I love shooting at the Wisconsin International Raceway. I just wish I was a lot better at it!

For kicks, I shot the kiddie big-wheel race which is held on the oval. However, the race is only about 30 yards long. I would love to see the race changed to include the entire 1/4-mile track distance. Then it would really become a test of endurance and skill for the little squirts. Imagine trying to negotiate a 30º bank on a big-wheel...

My meager attempt at an action shot:

Neenah's Tim Arnoldussen (A-76) spins out in a turn ahead of Oshkosh's Al Cottrell (00) in a Super Stock qualifier at Wisconsin International Raceway in Buchanan, Wis., Thursday evening, June 19, 2008.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Flag Day...

It's kind of a big deal [here].

Appleton's Flag Day Parade is the oldest in the United States (since 1950). It attracts about 60,000 street-level spectators now (about 1/6 of the three-county population). Appleton's population is only 72,000.

Members of the Wisconsin Society of the Sons of the American Revolution bear historic flags east on W. College Avenue at N. Superior Street in the 58th annual Flag Day Parade in Appleton, Wis., Saturday afternoon, June 14, 2008.

Wisconsin members of the Disabled American Veterans organization salute passing American flags during the 58th annual Flag Day Parade from the front of The Radisson Paper Valley Hotel where their state convention is being held in Appleton, Wis., Saturday afternoon, June 14, 2008.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

State Baseball - Championship game

Recently, Kimberly rarely comes up short in state final games. They've proven to be fierce competitors. It seemed like they had the baseball state championship in the bag, but in end they were outplayed by Kenosha Bradford.

Kimberly High School's Will Randerson (25) walks onto the field with teammates to shake hands with the opposing team after the Papermakers lost to Kenosha Bradford High School in the WIAA Div. 1 championship game at Fox Cities Stadium in Grand Chute, Wis., Friday afternoon, June 13, 2008.

Kimberly High School's Jayme Wells (5) lands safely at second base for a stolen bag before the tag of Kenosha Bradford High School's Pete Djurickovic (23) in the third inning.

Kenosha Bradford High School's Dustin Proud (7) breaks up the double play under the throw of Kimberly High School second baseman Chris Seidl (11) in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Kimberly High School's Tyler Wolf (7) clenches his medal while taking a moment to collect himself in the dugout after the Papermakers' loss to Kenosha Bradford.


We did a story about a particular apartment complex in the Town of Menasha that had a particularly high frequency of calls for law enforcement last year.

It's a difficult story to illustrate, particularly in the middle of the day when there aren't any people around to hook up with.. The only real option is to show signs of neglect. Many might argue that those are not truly related issues, but if you've studied urban sociology you'll know that the neglect of property (be it damage, cleanliness, even fully-covered windows) are all signs, causes and effects of other social problems like drugs, domestic abuse and altercations, and other disturbances.

It's a bit of a stretch on a daily story but there aren't always many in-depth options on short notice. This isn't the photo we used for the story, but another from the take.

The Villa de Faire apartment complex in Town of Menasha, Wis., shown Tuesday afternoon, June 10, 2008, had 188 service calls from police in 2007.

Thank God for creative subjects...

There are days now and then where you're just not feeling creative... your creativity is like a fountain in a town square – and as you approach you find that it's dry as a bone – just discolored by impurities of the water and the corrosion of the pennies nickels and dimes people have been throwing into it hoping for a miracle.

Sometimes you simply feel defeated before you even pick up your camera. Well, at least sometimes I do.

Living Well covers can be very challenging to shoot. Personally it makes me respect photographers whose jobs it is to shoot for magazine covers. You have to keep in mind that you're really composing a nearly square picture in a rectangular camera frame, that the masthead and lots of headlines will be placed over your picture.

On a day that I wasn't feeling too hot, I got handed an assignment for a Living Well cover story about stay-at-home dads. I was to photograph Phillip Kerwin and his three kids at home in Neenah. Phil was really cool and overly energetic right off the bat. He became even cooler when he started riffing on really good ideas for posed cover photographs.

My favorite: "Why don't I get inside the jungle gym with the kids on top and it'll be like this symbolic thing like being in a cage.

"Sure," I said with a smile. And we went with it.

I'm not Annie Leibovitz. I'll never claim to be. I'm really not generally good at portraits. This isn't a very dynamic photo, but it filled the assignment's need and it was kind of fun in the end. Because of the publication's format, the cover shots tend to be somewhat formulaic, lots of color, simple, people, some clean space for words.

Thankfully, we're usually able to stick around and shoot some candids for the inside pages.
Phillip Kerwin plays with two of his three children, Agii, 4, left, and Joe, 9, in their back yard in Neenah, Wis., Wednesday afternoon, June 4, 2008.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The sky is falling...

We've had some very rough weather lately. This was the first time our newsroom has had to evacuate to the basement.

A tree branch protrudes through the ceiling as Donna Allen mops up rainwater seeping through one of two holes in the roof of her home after severe storms downed a large tree in her and her husband, Gene's, Doty Island backyard in Neenah, Wis., Thursday evening, June 12, 2008.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Challenge Academy changing lives of troubled youth

From our story by Kate McGinty:

"In the chaos and uncertainty of tearful separations, as their shaved hair is dropping to the floor, the teens are given one order: Do not utter a word for two weeks.

Hours earlier, the teens had been dropped off at Fort McCoy, the military base they would call home for more than five months. They exchanged their clothing for camouflage pants and black lace-up boots. They picked up canteens to clip at their waist.

They kept only one item of nonmilitary clothing: a pair of tennis shoes for their rigorous workouts, including the 5:45 a.m. drills with jumping jacks, push-ups and stretches in the cold, dead grass between the barracks. And in those drills, if they didn't move quickly enough or push hard enough, they would be forced to stand still holding a weighty sandbag.

One father, as he dropped off his son, turned to him and said: "If you want to last, just keep your mouth shut and listen."

The prospect of joining this boot camp was so intimidating that, on the day they were dropped off, one teen refused to get out of the car and turned it around to return home.

But for the 158 teens who remained, they were prepping for tough lessons in academics, military life and sobriety.

They were about to swear in as cadets in the Wisconsin Challenge Academy's 20th class, which graduates Thursday."

This is the briefly told story of Cadet Jentz at Challenge Academy: what his days entail and his hope for change in his life.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Xavier wins girls' state soccer title

More state finals fun... this time comin' at 'ya from Milwaukee..

Xavier High School's Chelsea Colling (11), right, jumps into the arms of teammate Alicia Bartosic (14) after Colling's 50:02 game-winning goal against Catholic Memorial High School in the Division 2 state final at Uihlein Soccer Park in Milwaukee, Wis., Saturday afternoon, June 7, 2008.

Xavier High School's Ally Gresl (8), left, and Caitlin Weber (2), right, help goalkeeper Maddie Drusch, background, defend against the corner kick header by Catholic Memorial High School's Monica Gonyo (23) in the second half of the Division 2 state final at Uihlein Soccer Park in Milwaukee, Wis., Saturday afternoon, June 7, 2008.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Graduation Day

I've been kept busy covering some local high school graduations recently. They're fun... I guess. I wouldn't want to go back to high school if you paid me, though. Such drama...

Appleton West High School graduating seniors process past the front of the high school before their commencement ceremony in Appleton, Wis., Thursday evening, June 5, 2008.

St. Mary Central High School graduated seniors Jack Rew, left, Adam Lepper, center, and Justin Bessette, right, huddle around Kathy Bergholz for a group hug after Bergholz, a staff member at the school, was recognized for being a special influence in the students' lives at the school's graduation ceremony in Town of Menasha, Wis., Wednesday evening, June 4, 2008.

"I am your master."

I almost didn't even include this picture in the photo gallery. Part of me hates it. Part of me says, "you made a noble attempt."

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Kimberly baseball heading to State

I was deeply concerned at this game. Baseball... God knows I love it... but darn... you'll stand there for 5 innings and nothing will happen. You might even have a score of 6-6 and nothing has happened as far as making pictures is concerned.

Thankfully this brave right-fielder gave his all for a foul ball and raked his face through the gravel warning track. Now that's dedication!

Of course, shortly after the attempt, his coach yelled from the bench that had he really been sprinting he would have caught it. Nothing's ever good enough is it?

Appleton North High School right fielder Steve Lichtfuss (6) slides into the gravel warning track in an attempt to catch a foul ball in the seventh inning against Kimberly High School in the WIAA sectional final in Appleton, Wis., Tuesday, June 3, 2008.

Kimberly High School's Luke Van Handel (17) gets congratulated by teammates after scoring a tying run (6-6) in the third inning against Appleton North High School in the WIAA sectional finals in Appleton, Wis., Tuesday, June 3, 2008.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

State Track and Field

For the past few days I have been in La Crosse, Wis., covering the state finals for prep track and field. It's my last assignment before going home after a week on the road. I enjoy going and seeing new places but at a more leisurely pace than this past week has been.

Here's a few shots from the sports coverage.

Runners, including Hortonville's Nic Cass break away from the starting line of the 1600M run during the WIAA Track & Field State Championships in La Crosse, Wis., Friday, May 30, 2008.

State champion for 2008, Appleton East senior Heidi Baerenwald throws in the final flight of the shot put competition at WIAA Track & Field State Championships in La Crosse, Wis., Saturday, May 31, 2008. Baerenwald set a Division 1 state record with a throw of 46 feet, 3 1/2 inches.

From left, Seymour's Caitlin Gardner, Justine Mehojah, Alaina Murphy, and Kelsey Quist celebrate their first place finish in their heat of the 1600M relay at the WIAA Track & Field State Championships in La Crosse, Wis., Friday, May 30, 2008.