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Backhoes Parked Behind Garages

From: Stephen D.
Sent on: Wednesday, July 31, 2013 8:11 AM

In 1984 I bought an old Case backhoe for five thousand dollars and placed an ad in the local Pennysaver.  Soon the phone started ringing, and I never looked back.  Interest rates were coming down from double digits then, and new construction was on a tear!  The next eight years - up until 1992 when I began with Dean Witter - will always be remembered as the happiest period of my adult life.

When I began there were nine other diggers in Orleans County.  I know that because my name was number ten on the Health Department's list of water line and septic system installers in 1985.  When I decided to hang it up and get behind a desk in '92, there were twenty-nine names on that same list.  Many of those were Kodak employees with old backhoes like the one I started out with who wanted to cash in on the building boom.  No insurances.  Employees paid under the table in cash.  Zero overhead.

One of my website clients called asking me to shoot his daughter's wedding in a few weeks.  Against my better judgement - I know how hard weddings are - I decided to give it a go.  Preparations are going well, and I'm optimistic that we'll have a good day with good results.  Still, I'm very much aware that my being there is one less wedding that some other wedding photographer will book this year.

I often think of Bruce Landis.  I met Bruce when he was in high school in 1973.  I asked him then what he wanted to do when he graduated from school, and he said that he'd been accepted at a college that taught photography, and that he wanted to become a photographer.  Five years later Bruce had displays at the County Fairgrounds.  Ten years later he was the official photographer for most of the local school yearbooks.  When he opened an account with me at Morgan Stanley - just weeks before the attack on our headquarters in 2001 - his studio was the most successful between Buffalo and Rochester.  And now, FORTY YEARS after asking him what he wanted to do with his life,  Bruce Landis - PHOTOS BY BRUCE - is still going strong: .

So on those days when I start to feel confident or worse - self-important, I think of Bruce and remember that I'm just a recent name toward the bottom of a long and growing list of people who bought a camera not that long ago.



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