Photos of Stan

Photos of Stan

L_ is sitting on a stool scanning photos for the Stan Watkins documentary. Family albums are spread out on the couch and the best pictures are being recorded. Difficult to do on a big scanner as the pages don’t come apart, so a hand scanner is being used. Time consuming and probably most will not be used. But at least we have them.

Four years ago my sister MaryAnn and I met in Los Angeles to spend two days at the Warner Archives looking for any photos we could use. We took along a hand scanner I bought in the UK, but we weren’t allowed to use it.

The Archives was staffed by a nice young man who hadn’t come across Stan Watkins before; but as we had called ahead, he had extricated several cardboard boxes from the masses that Warner Bros had deposited in this building, part of the University of Southern California. A huge collection, but unfortunately none of it had been labeled or cataloged.

MaryAnn and I slogged through box after box, and actually found very little of interest. Lots of documents about legislation and business dealings. What we wanted were photographs that had our father, Stan Watkins, in them, or the equipment used in the early days of sound films. There were dozens of duplicates of the stars and film sets, but they were not what we wanted.

Eventually we sorted out a few that I asked to be copied and sent to us. One of the items was very damaged, and I later found I had a clean copy at home. The total cost was just over $16. I paid that and waited.

And waited. Eventually I wrote to ask where the photos were and then had confusing and unnecessary correspondence with the office that organized the dispatch of requested items. They wanted $250 for each photo! I insisted I didn’t want any actor or film photo, merely those technical ones of my father. They wanted to know on which page of my book (!) the photo was to appear and I said we didn’t know that yet. So I waited. And waited. Four years on I am still waiting.

img001 (2)I don’t have the photos. And they still have my $16.

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Stan Watkins’ Garden

Hello, friendly readers. It’s been a long time since I wrote a blog. Thanks for staying with me.

There has been some progress in the filming of the documentary of my father’s life and work. We may be concentrating on the Sound part for now, as the funding has been slow in coming. Filming is always a hard sell. But we’ll keep at it!

Last week my director had me in the back garden, mainly because Stan Watkins was such a fan of nature. As a boy he collected insects and bugs of all kinds, later butterflies.

SSAW butterfly collection 010

He identified and labeled them all meticulously, and his collection remains undamaged in airtight wooden boxes in my attic.

So we were filming out under a pine tree where a bird chirped merrily. I couldn’t help myself and blew a whistle back. The bird and I carried on a conversation for some time while the cameraman and sound girl held in their delighted laughter. Later my director called me the Bird Whisperer.

I’m sure Daddy must have whistled to birds in his time, too. And he spent time sitting in his garden in Dulwich, London, often sketching, or perhaps writing yet another of his poems. I found this one in a notebook labeled Poems & Whimseys, and some song lyrics. He called it “Leguminous”.

We have a little garden at our little Dulwich home
The house is in the road that’s known as Burbage
We haven’t many flowers and there’s not a single gnome
What is there in the garden? Mainly herbage.

Of course there is a lawn there, but it’s not exactly level
Some of it is slightly up-and-downish
Resulting that in places it’s as fertile as the devil
While in other parts it’s rather bald and brownish.

There’s a border in the garden whence we try to keep the lawn out
But with grass and weeds it keeps on getting seeded
So it takes a lot of hoeing and the hoe is getting worn out
And I sometimes feel the border isn’t needed.

The one redeeming feature of this part of our estate
For which its other failings I will pardon
Is the very luscious veg’tables my fairest cultivates
In the patch down at the bottom of our garden.

Stan in Dulwich