Separated at Birth?

After a long day of driving through the hills misdirected by Google maps twice, I gave up. I was supposed to attend an event having to do with the soon to be Open Space preserve at Mount Umunhum. For those unfamiliar with Google Now and Cards, Google skims through your e-mail and calendar for data it thinks might be relevant to your life. If you place an online order, if you are using Google and Android it will likely find the tracking number and offer to track your package. Or if you have an upcoming event to attend on Mount Umunhum Google will give you directions- but apparently to the geographically closest road to the top of the mountain.

I drove for one and a three quarters hours. The first hour or so was on 880/17, to a rural road, that narrowed to a one lane road. Then I lost my internet connection and Google maps petered out. But a few minutes later of white knuckle driving I came to the end of the road that not only stated dead end but no access to Mount Umunhum. But I did have a weak signal and scoured my emails, finding the intersection where we were supposed to meet. I input that intersection only to drive another 45 minutes and reach another dead end- road closed sign. I find it kind of amazing that 45 minutes from the Googleplex Google can get my directions so wrong. Also it’s understandable why, but I’m also somewhat amazed that I can have no internet access and still be within line of site with Google and the rest of Silicon Valley.

What to do? I drove back down to civilization. I stumbled upon a Whole Foods in the uber affluent Los Gatos area. Having done a lot of work in Whole Foods for events and photo booths etc, I have an unusual breakfast routine. I grab a coffee mixing from each carafe, a vegan crumb donut (imagine how much better it would taste if it had dairy or better yet meat in it!) and a small pile of pork sausages from the breakfast bar.

I’ve typed enough now to wonder how I got so far off the topic I originally started with. Basically as I spent the rest of the day trying to figure out what else productive to do I visited Santa Clara’s Agnews Historic Cemetery and Museum. In fact I thought it was another Google map error. I plugged in the destination and ended up in your typical South Bay suburban sprawl of a neighborhood. I looked around where Google says the historic cemetery, only on leaving did I notice in the middle of the block was a little tiny museum and an empty plot with a bit of black iron fence that had been covertly labeled Agnews Cemetery.

Looking at the fenced off cemetery I was surprised to see nary a headstone. After scratching my head, I entered the cute little museum. The volunteer who greeted me turned out she was director of Agnews when it closed in the 1990’s. Among all the other artifacts in the museum, the electric shock machine, creepy old pharmacy stuff etc was a binder with a bunch of old photos. The gal I was speaking with (who told me her name twice and I’ve already forgot it) started thumbing through a binder full of photocopies of photographs.

She mentioned these photos were from old 5×7″ glass plates that were saved from the landfill and printed. The story already had this strange parallel to my life. My mom had picked up a box of old negatives including a few glass plates somewhere in the area when an estate or garage sale was about to through them out. I printed those photos in Mr Bernuccci’s Independence High School darkroom classes.

As my friendly volunteer continued thumbing through the photos more similarities. There were some photos of a young woman posing aiming a small caliber rifle, much like negs I remember from my collection. There was a smartly dressed young man that from my 20 year old memories of the last time I paid any attention seemed perhaps similar.

I was reticent to tell this gal how many similarities there were between my batch of negatives and the photos she had in her museum. Maybe I shouldn’t use “crazy” in the context of me and a discussion with the former director of a mental institution, but I was worried I would come across as “less than sane” If I said too much about my collection of old photos and hers that she was so proud of. Just “for giggles” I snapped a few photos with my phone of some of the Xerox copies in the museum.

My photo collection had some other strange traits as well. There are a number of photos of men posing in nun’s clothing. There were also lots photos of a young woman we in high school nicknamed “Bootsy” as she was often seen in some extraordinarily high laced boots. Looking through the negatives again yesterday with a loupe and the newly added Internet as a tool I also found some other interesting clues. “Bootsy” can be seen posing in front of Victoria Canada’s British Columbia Parliament Buildings, National monuments in D.C., among the Joshua trees in Sothern California, and what I assume is here at home in the Bay Area somewhere.

So is there a connection between the seemingly improbable two photo collections? I’m honestly not sure. But I did manage to match a very similar looking guy (see inset.) I have no idea how common fashion was, but the collar in both photos is remarkably similar, as is the hair style. His face appears to also be very close. It’s hard to tell if the minor differences are to do with being a completely different person, or the age at which the photos were taken, or that he is looking down in one photo and up in the other. But polling my household, it seems we all agree it’s possible they are one-and-the-same. What do you think?