My dad's photo show at the Santa Cruz Museum and We Visit the Cemetery

For the past couple of years, a show of my father's photos, From the Byways to the Highways, has been touring around California, thanks to CERA. My dad's name is Rondal Partridge, and he's been photographing for about 75 years.

The show is finally on it's last stop, in Santa Cruz at the Museum of Art and History. We'll be having a party to close it down and to thank the museum and their donors for doing such a great job with the presentation. It's been fun to watch the progress of the show. Several times my dad and I have gone to the museum where the show currently was to give a talk. (See my post of Sunday, march 9, 2008 for our Hayward visit.)

This talk just happens to be on Ron's birthday, so we'll celebrate with champagne and cake as he turns 91. Still photographing, still talking, still cooking, still going to exercise class, still beetling down to the back yard to check on his zuchinni and chard and tomato plants. Did I mention, still talking? A man who loves life.

I recently went for the first time to visit the cemetery where our family has had a plot for years. I do mean years -- my great-great grandfather bought a nice spot on a sunny slope in the late 1800s. He and his family are buried there, in a grassy plot with low granite walls around the outside. My grandparents, whom I adored, are there, tidily set in one corner. It's called Mountain View Cemetery, designed by Frederick Law Ohlmsted, and it's big, 250 acres of rolling hills covered with old weathered headstones and a few ancient gray crypts, listing slightly.

My father and I happened to be driving by a few days later, and I asked if he'd like to go see the family plot. He'd never seen it either, though it has figured in our family lore for years, and is only a few miles from my parents' house. We drove in through the formal gates, and I told him the people in the office, who'd showed me where to look for the family gravesite, had asked me if we had "placed" anyone yet. My dad thought that was as funny as I did. Such a carefully neutral word, "placed."

He liked the spot -- up on a hillside, looking across the valley. He shaded his eyes, looked from one side of the valley to the other. "Sunlight all day," he said, approving, like he was a sun loving plant being put in just the right place.

He rambled around for awhile, reading headstones, getting a feel for the neighborhood. Then he turned to me. "Okay," he said. "Let's go."