Photograph by Stavros Perdikakis
My earlier years of life were an ongoing adventure, laughter, excitement, conflict and sorrow. Had it not been for my grandmother, Maria, I would have become a far worse lost soul than I currently am. Having lost her first son at Iwo Jima during WW II, I became the focus of much of her attention. This photo was taken by my Uncle Stavros, her youngest son, who will be mentioned numerous times throughout this story. It was Maria who gave me so many amazing things including my first camera. For many years we were inseparable, I learned many things from her including my personal belief in giving to others which probably led to my eventual interest in Buddhism.
This photograph was created on the front steps of the five floor walk-up where she lived. My cousin, Louise was often in the picture. Her father, Stavros, was a kind and talented man who became an older brother of sorts. A father of five children, he worked throughout the night. danced, bowled, and was always full of good humor. He was a film-lab technician and enjoyed making 16 mm. films of his family outings. Through my contact with him I learned about film-making and became inspired to learn about photography.
I often would pick up my 8mm. wind up camera and attempt to create a masterpiece. The filming was terrific fun but at the time I was unable to afford the cost of lab processing. Nevertheless for the next few years I indulged in "home movies" and was able to interact with a motley crew of friends.
My first cameras were an 8mm Keystone and a great big box containing a tiny Kodak Brownie "Holiday Flash" and all the equipment necessary for lighting and film development. I recall jumping for joy when I viewed my first self-processed image including fingerprints, dust marks, and faded grey edges! The joy of my chemical darkroom work had begun!