Major John T. Alstrom, Jr., (1914-1984), Veterans Day 2017

Remembering my Father, John T. Alstrom, Jr., on Veteran’s Day 2017. Served in China & Aleutian Island during WWII and in Korea where is lost a leg when he stepped on a landmine.


Father in China during WWII
Father receiving Purple Heart for getting his leg blown off.

My Day in the City

Yesterday, was the first day in two years that I traveled into the City above 23rd Street.  All my current interests seem to have become anchored in lower Manhattan.

The weather was fantastic in NYC .  The primary reason I went in was to go to a stamp show.  Many kids collect stamps but don’t continue once they grow up.  I never stopped.  I was mostly a history major in college, so maybe there is some kind of connection there.  Most of my childhood interests stayed with me throughout my life.

The new Elvis stamp. Sheet made to look like a record album.
The new Elvis stamp. Sheet made to look like a record album.
The Stamp show booklet.
The Stamp show booklet.

After the stamp show at the Midtown Hilton, I walked up to Whole Foods on Columbus Circle and bought a sandwich for $8.00 of turkey, cheddar cheese and avocado on some kind of Artisan bread and spicy dressing.  It was worth the price.

After stuffing my gut, I walked from Columbus Circle down Broadway to 42nd Street.  I was so tired (I turn 73 today)  that I took the express bus home from 5th Avenue.  Following are some of my souvenirs from the day.  I’m thinking of going back today.

The theater on Broadway where Stephen Colbert has his show.
Above:  The theater on Broadway where Stephen Colbert has his show.



Times Square was packed.
Times Square was packed.  Below, are people standing in line to get half price theater tickets which are sold on the day of a show that still has empty seats.


I love the big theater posters. After 30 years in NYC, I still find Times Square exciting.  However, the Broadway theater has out-priced me.
I love the big theater posters. After 30 years in NYC, I still find Times Square   exciting.
Big truck runs around advertising Stephen Colbert.  Nice to see so many people on bikes in NYC.  Beats walking.

My Thursday Night at the Whitney

(above:  The Hudson River with New Jersey buildings–from the South side, 5th floor, of the Whitney.  Photo taken around 7:00 pm., which is why buildings are in shadow.)

The Whitney is open till 10 pm Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays this summer.

Whitney Museum of American Art
99 Gansevoort Street,
New York, NY 10014

An anterior shot of the New Whitney that I took on opening day 5/1/15. The Whitney Museum of American Art building was designed by Renzo Piano.
An anterior shot of the New Whitney that I took on opening day 5/1/15. The Whitney Museum of American Art building was designed by Renzo Piano.


Last night I attended a delightful lecture at the Whitney entitled     Writing Art History: The Whitney’s Collection and Exhibitions, 1970 – Present .  The lecture broadened my art history knowledge, considerably, of what was going on in art in the 1970’s and 80’s, which I had no idea of–really   Not only that, but I had no idea that I had no idea of what was going on

Performance art became a big thing during these two decades, which is something I never really took to, probably because I didn’t understand it.  Performance artists usually document their work with photographs, which many are on display at the Whitney. The lecture lasted about a 1/2 hour, then we went to the fifth floor to look at examples of work on display that had been talked about in the lecture.  All by artists with whom I had been totally unfamiliar until last night.  These lectures are free to members of the museum.  It’s certainly worth the price of joining just for them.

These performance artists express some kind of social agenda, like Aids, or women issues.  The women’s movement became big in the 70’s after the Vietnam war ended, and women performance artists dug their nails into it.  Performance art is a much more in-your-face” type of thing than looking at a painting.  However, when I think of the 80’s in art, the first people who come to my mind are Basquant and Warhol.  I don’t think any performance artist would come to any one’s mind.


This photo of the Whitney shows the different levels and the people standing out on the balconies. The Pink art on the 5th Floor wall is called "Sunset" by Mary Heilmann, who lives in San Francisco.
This photo of the Whitney shows the top 5 floors and the people standing out on the balconies.  The views of the city from the balconies are tremendous.  On the 8th floor is a restaurant where you can take your cocktail out on the balcony.  Bring money.  Multi-colored plastic chairs on the 5th floor balcony help enjoy the view.  Also there’s a ground-floor restaurant that you can sit at without paying to get into the museum.

"Sunset" by Mary Heilmann. These work my Heilmann, who lives in San Francisco, is on the wall overlooking the 5th floor balcony, where the chairs are.

“Museums are places to hang out.”
Mary Heilmann, whose site-specific installation, Sunset, inaugurates the Museum’s largest outdoor gallery


The 5th floor of the museum has two wonderful wall-to-wall windows on each side.  One faces south and the Hudson River, and the other East.  The windows have long couches in front of them for people to sit and contemplate and take photos if they want, which is what I wanted.

This is the view from the South window on the 5th Floor of the Museum. That's the Hudson River with Jersey City in the background. It was about 7:00 p.m. when I took this.
This is the view from the South window on the 5th Floor of the Museum. That’s the Hudson River with Jersey City in the background. It was about 7:00 p.m. when I took this.


Most of these photos I took last night 8/13/15.

Rainy Day Memories of my San Francisco Years

May the sun bring you new energy by day, may the moon softly restore you by night, may the rain wash away your worries, may the breeze blow new strength into your being, may you walk gently through the world and know it’s beauty all the days of your life.

Apache blessing

It’s been raining for 3 days in New York City: for me, a drag. The rain, not to mention ennui, has brought back to me the memory of a particular day in 1980.

After spending Christmas with my Mother in L.A.,  I had just returned to San Francisco, with so much relief that I can still feel inside me that emotion I felt on that day. Back home in North Beach, the first thing I wanted to do, which is what I mostly always did on my days off from work, was go out on the Bay and take photos, my favorite activity at the time.  Afterwards I often indulged myself at a great San Francisco restaurant.

I was on the Aquatic Park Pier (one of my favorite places to take photos from) when a man, with an expensive camera in his hand, said to me, in passing, and with disparagement, that it was too cloudy and dim to take photos. I thought that was exactly the right time to take photos.  That was why I was there.  I thought the inclement weather would make for some dramatic photos.

That’s the Golden Gate Bridge in case you didn’t recognize it.

This was a photo I took on that day during the last week of 1980 of San Francisco Bay.  I loved going to the Harvey Milk Rec Center where they had a facility where anyone could go and print photos (B&W only) for a very small fee.  For five years I printed there, a minimum of once a week. I often printed on very heavy textured paper, because I liked the look, as I did in the above photo. Especially, in the sky, you can see the texture of the paper.  A version of this photo which I printed on regular glossy photo paper got published in a local San Francisco magazine.

Later, I colored this photo with Marshall’s photo tints. When I printed on such heavy textured paper, it made hand coloring so much easier, and more effective. (the heavy, matte, textured paper is so absorbent) . It looks more painterly than photographic.  Maybe I liked the painterly look so much, because I really wanted to paint.  Now, I prefer painting to doing photography.  Photography never gave me a feeling of complete artistic fulfillment, although it provided a little, and hand-tinting added a little more.

San Francisco Bay (1980) hand tinted.
San Francisco Bay (1980) hand tinted.

During the first half of the 20th Century, and before color photography, hand-tinting photos was popular, but now hardly anyone does it, and it looks antiquated. However, I think it’s really fun to do and I like the look.  I also learned retouching, which was an easy way for me to correct my photographic problems like parts too light, or not contrasty enough.  Now, one can correct those problems on the computer.

If you are interested in hand-tinting photos, on another blog of mine, I did a post on how to hand-tint black and white photos that you might be interested in visiting. This post also shows a few other hand-tinted photos of San Francisco I made while living there.


This is a self-portrait of myself (actually, using color film) that I made around that same time. I worked then as a secretary at an architectural firm (MBT Associates) in San Francisco that had lovely, artistic-looking interiors.  I especially liked their large windows, as you can see in this photo, and the picturesque views out the windows of Chinatown.  I used to go there to take photos on the weekends.  In 1980, we had Wang word processors that I enjoyed writing with, after having used the old-fashioned typewriter for years.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Family

The following are photos of 2 animals who were once a big part of my family, whom I loved with all my heart,  and whom I will never forget.

My dog Mary (1995-2007).
My cat Rosebud (1985-1995) on my front porch on Layton Avenue in Staten Island. Hand-tinted photo.

Remembering my Father on this Veteran’s Day

Father during WWII
Father during WWII

My Father, John T. Alstrom, Jr. (1914-1984), was a professional Army Officer from the beginning of WW II until 1951 when he had to retire because he had his leg blown off in Korea when he stepped on a land mine.  He was born in Baltimore, Md., and died in Sun City, Arizona.  After he retired from the Army, he and my stepmother lived in Monterey Park, California, where he worked helping disabled veterans.

Father always smoked a pipe.
Father always smoked a pipe.

During WWII, father was first in China then transferred to the Aleutian Islands.

After WWII, father was stationed in Germany where my mother and myself went to live with him for six months.  He was a Captain but then was promoted to a Major at the time he was discharged in 1951.

Mother, Father and myself (age 4) in Germany in 1946
Mother, Father and myself (age 4) in Büdingen, Germany in 1946
Father in China cerca 1940
Mother, Father with actor Dan Daily at Ciro’s nightclub in Hollywood, California 1951.  Father loved drinking and eating excessively, until he got diabetes.
Newspaper clipping of father receiving the Purple Heart.  I have retained his Purple Heart.  That and a couple of other metals is all I have from him.
He received the Bronze Star for saving the life of a fellow soldier.  I knew nothing about this until an historian on-line told me about it.  He found this certificate at an estate sale in Tennessee and looked me up on the internet.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Saturated

The first thing that comes to mind from “saturated” is color.  However, my previous post that shows the paintings of Mark Rothko seems to show color saturation better than anything I have to offer.

The photo below is a photo I took of my friend Linda Jones in Los Angeles in 2010 at the Getty Center.  This photo is “saturated” with flowers and plants as is the Getty Center.  Linda and I are now both in our 70’s and have known each other since the fifth grade at Overland Avenue Grade School in West Los Angeles.


Debra O’Quinn, My Cousin, Wins Nursing Award

Debra Zimmerman O'Quinn
Debbie Zimmerman O’Quinn

Just received an email my cousin, Dorothy Zimmerman  Myers, who lives in Derby, Kansas (a suburb of Wichita, where I was born) regarding her daughter Debra.  I am so thrilled by Debra’s  great honor that it brought tears to my eyes.  I’m so proud to have a relative who is helping veterans.  Debra is a  psychiatric nurse for the VA Hospital in Topeka, Kansas.  I think a wonderful nurse is a great thing to be.

This is Dorothy’s email:

“The Nurse Manager for our PTSD in-patient program announced that “Our very own Debra O’Quinn has been awarded the Federal Veterans Administration Annual Secretary’s Award in Nursing Excellence for all of Eastern Kansas VA Healthcare System! And…not only that, Ms. O’Quinn has also received the  Annual Secretary’s Award in Nursing Excellence for all of VISN 15 (which includes all of Wichita, Kansas City, Topeka, Leavenworth, Columbia, Poplar Bluff, St. Louis, and Marion, Illinois!!)”…She is now a nominee for the prestigious National Secretary’s Award for Nursing Excellence, which if selected, she will be flown to Washington, D.C. to be given the national award…at the White House”.

Click on Photo to Visit (and maybe join or make a donation) the Veterans of Foreign Wars site.