Family stories

Aphrodite by Edward S Curtis 1923

When I went through a rediscovery of my great-gramps’ work, I found a Hollywood series of nudes he had done. When I first saw these at a gallery in Santa Fe, I fell in love with them. It’s like, “Oh my goodness! Look at this!” One of those images was titled “Aphrodite”.  




Coleen and I went to spend that next Christmas with my parents and I asked my mom and dad if anybody in the family has any of this series. Mom takes me by the hand and leads me into their bedroom. There it is! Hanging on their bathroom wall. Before either of my sisters could claim it, I shouted, “I want that!”  


My poor dad, he was 91 at the time and suffering from dementia — trying to talk with him and have a conversation was sometimes difficult, but if you went back far enough, he was pretty sharp and remembered clearly. My dad suddenly piped up and said, “Oh, my mom told me she thought that was one of her sisters”.  We all laughed and then pondered whether it was Beth or Billy, not really coming to a conclusion. This is how misinformation gets out there! We have since found out that the model was Rose DelGadio. 


Also an interesting note on Aphrodite is that it is said to be two negatives sandwiched together in a dark room. Edward was certainly on the cutting edge of the creative photography movement! 
~ John Graybill


Chief of the Desert
Chief of the Desert – Navaho Edward S Curtis 1904

One of Florence’s favorite images was Chief of the Desert – Navajo. She included it as the first portfolio image in her book “Visions of a Vanishing Race” published in 1976. 



Curtis’ description of this image is “Picturing not only the individual but a characteristic member of the tribe – disdainful, energetic, self-reliant.” I think that certainly tells the story. 


Jim, the dutiful son, once checked on Florence and Hank’s outside storage shed as they were starting to get rid of things at their Laguna Hills, CA home before moving.  Oh my gosh… unprotected from heat… he found multiple gold tones! Florence and Hank told him to take them and he did. They hung on our walls for many years after that. 
~ Carol Graybill