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RalphQuinn

Where were you in 1953?

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Twelve years before the Fair, I was in the Mediterranean with the Sixth Fleet. That was the year of the "Great Cephalonia Earthquake," a truly disastrous event for this Ionian Sea Island off the west coast of Greece. I was on the scene two days after the main (7.2) quake that literally distroyed the island and caused the emigration of half its citizens. Using a professional press camera (the well-known Speed Graphic) I recorded some of the devastation. After 65 years (come August 12th) of them sitting in a binder in my bookcase, I delivered these photographs to the Historical and Cultural Museum in the capital city of Argostoli, where I did most of my photography (and where there were 400 deaths and 900 injuries). My package, which included about 30 original photographs and other materials, was received with considerable enthusiasm by the curators. Although Cephalonia's history goes back to legendary times, this museum (part of the city library) covers about 200 years, up to the time of the earthquake. Almost everything on the island was newly built since then. I thought you might like to see a sample of the images from one of my first adventures with a camera.

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This is the back wall of a four-story building, taken from the front of the structure.

 

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I was surprised to learn that this building was the city's library, one of the few rebuilt along original lines. In 1968 the Historical Museum was added in the lower floor of the building, with an entrance to the right of the stairs, now celebrating its fiftieth anniversary. I was also surprised and honored to learn that the museum would keep my package as I designed it, with added translations from English to Greek.

By the way, the movie 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin,' with Nicholas Cage and Penelope Cruz, was filmed on Cephalonia, covering their war-time occupation by the Italians and Germans, and ending with the same earthquake I photographed. Based on the book 'Corelli's Mandolin,' one of the experts consulted by the author was the founder of the museum itself.Now a tourist attraction, Argostoli's 2000 year-old history literally ended in 1953, and everything since then is another world. I received, as gifts, two substantial books published by the museum, detailing the early years and the earthquake.                                                             

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Bravo, Ralph, bravo.  I'm sure we all wish we could contribute that much to history.  

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Wow - thanks for posting this.

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It's incredible to see what an earthquake can do.  Those are remarkable photographs, Ralph.

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Since I've broached this subject, I thought you might like to know that I will be making a presentation of the 1953 event at our local community center in February. It will include a DVD of my photos (with appropriate music) plus the 2018 trip to Cephalonia to deliver them. I'll display an identical copy of the binder I delivered, show the earthquake portion of 'Captain Corelli,' and read from my personal memoir. After that I'll wake up the audience and send them home!  :sleeping: 

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Bill, the venue is the Community & Senior Center, 2001 East Street, Woodland, where I spent four years presenting Shakespeare's plays and a year doing my world travel videos. The time is 1:00 p.m. (Feb. 13). We have a modern community facility that has several classrooms with video projection equipment and lots of sports and recreational amenities.

Edited by RalphQuinn
Added the date.

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