Wednesday, May 14, 2008


In 1981 I graduated from elementary school. Until this Sunday, I held onto one of my graduation gifts for 27 years. My Aunt Lisa and Uncle Fritz gave me $30 dollars cash in the form of three extremely fresh, crisp $10 dollar bills. I don't remember why I initially didn't spend the money, but basically all these years I've had the cash in the original envelope tucked away in a drawer for mostly sentimental reasons. My Uncle died in 1993 and my Aunt in 1995. Even though I inherited all of their possessions (in fact the desk I use was my Uncle's), there was something sweet about still having that cash. I guess one day I figured I'd spend it on something and imagine my they had bought it for me. Well that day came on Sunday, which happened to be Mother's Day. I found a used 1973 Yashica Electro 35 GSN rangefinder on Craigslist that was selling for exactly $30 dollars. The time seemed right to dig into that envelope. Mother's Day is of course a bit melancholy for me so the idea that in some way my Aunt (truly my second Mother) was buying me a camera made me feel good. The camera would also connect me to my Uncle who was a photographer in Los Angeles - he did children's portrait sittings in his late in life second career, after being a spice seller in Philadelphia. But something strange happened when I went to take the money out of the envelope, I discovered another folded up bill that I had no memory was ever in there. Without unfolding it, I could immediately see on the outside fold that it was a $2 dollar bill. My Mom had a thing for $2 dollar bills because they reminded her of her father. He had once given her a $2 bill and signed it to her and she always carried it with her in her wallet under her driver's license. As I unfolded the bill, I could see that it was one my Mom had inscribed to me, "with love from Mom 1983." There aren't too many moments in life that can give you pure elation but finding that $2 bill I had long forgotten about on Mother's Day when my Mom is no longer around on this earthly plane was an off the charts moment in time. After 27 years of saving that $30 dollar gift from my Aunt and Uncle, Mother's Day was the day that I "decided" to spend it. Coincidence, spirit guided, who knows. It's pretty phenomenal either way, and for me, a definite feeling of my Mom's touch.

The envelope from my Aunt Lisa and Uncle Fritz

The three $10 dollar bills. The guy who sold me the camera immediately commented when I handed him the money, "Wow these are crisp," and noted that they didn't look like the normal bills in circulation. I didn't tell him the story of their being tucked away for 27 years.

The $2 bill my Mom inscribed.

The $2 dollar bill my Grandfather gave to my Mom

The Yashica Electro 35 GSN rangefinder

I love that atomic symbol!

Yashica Electro 35 GSN rangefinder specs:
Produced 1973 Yashica Camera Co., Japan
Film type 135 (35mm)
Picture size 24mm x 36mm
Weight 24.6oz (697.4g) sans battery
Lens Color Yashinon DX 45mm 1:1.7-16
Filter size 55mm threaded, 57mm slip-on
Focal range 2.6' to infinity
Shutter Copal Elec
Shutter speeds B, 1/30, 30s-1/500 aperture priority (1/500 only w/out battery)
Viewfinder coupled rangefinder with auto parallax correction
Exposure meter lens mounted CdS, over/under lights in viewfinder
ASA 25-1000
Battery originally PX32 5.6 Mercury, will accept 6v 28A or 4LR44
Battery check lamp
Fast-action wind lever

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