Thursday, December 05, 2013

He helped me learn a great deal and he will be missed.

It was sometime after the Sid Grossman show at the Museum of Fine Art, Houston that I noticed David  Vestal's name in the credits of Grossman's book, Journey to the Cape.  Vestal had been a member of the Photo League while Grossman was  an instructor at the League. I think it's fair to say that Vestal fell hard for Sid. He always spoke very well of him and his teaching methods.
I had seen a portrait Vestal had taken of Grossman in his apartment in the Village while a student at the League. I wrote Vestal a letter and asked him if he would sell me a print of the image. I got a reply almost immediately with a positive answer. The portrait of Grossman was the first of many prints Vestal would sell me. We became "Pen Pals". 
Sometime later on a trip to New York I made a date with David and went to his house in Bethlehem Ct. We visited for a while, he showed me around, in particular his darkroom, and let me take a few pictures while we sat in his "study".  I'll have to scan the silver prints and post them one of these days. On another trip to the city, Cathy and I paid David a visit. he was always a charming and gracious host. There was a time when he was making one of his extended road trips that he found his way to Houston and spent several days with Cathy and me at our house.
Last year proved to be the best yet, David and I made a trip to Al Weber's 24th. and last Rendezvous at the mission San Antonio de Padua in King City California. We spent three weeks on the road together in the new Ford. I'll never forget it, much as I'll never forget what a wonderful and interesting time I've had getting to know one of men who have helped make the Art of Photography the wonderful thing that it is.
I talked to David a couple of weeks ago only to learn that age was finally catching up with him. He told me that he hadn't been able to do a road trip this year because he had some health issues and had to spend more money than he liked on home repairs. He was clearly upset that he had been stuck at home.  Cathy and I along with our Daughter and her two boys went to Dallas on Saturday the 23rd of November to visit our Son and Daughter-in-law and their baby. When we got home on Sunday the 24th. there was a message on the answering machine from David. He said he was getting along but only operating at about 25%. He also said there was nothing to get excited about. While I knew his health was not good I didn't think he was in such serious shape. He had told me a couple of weeks earlier that his back was giving him problems. I asked if he was going to go to the doctor and he said he hadn't yet.
I honestly think he knew that his time here was getting short and was accepting of the reality of life.
I'll miss his dry sarcastic wit and his thoughts about the art he had devoted his life to.
The news came yesterday afternoon when a trooper from the Connecticut State Police called me from his home.

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