Behind the Victory Flagpole – Twin pixs

Patrick Henry had some first-class student photographers back when I was in high school. They were both skillful and professional. You always hear about the band and the wrestlers, baseball buffs and football teams, etc. but hardly ever hear about the guys behind the scenes, who are the photographers. They capture all the excitement that is going on–the sports, dances, classroom activities and the teachers in action. Oh, what fun to be a photographer!

The five guys that were shooting pics at that time were Robert Williams, Robert Holmberg, Robert Berglund, Wallace Carlson and C. Stem. That’s a lot of Roberts, but the only one I knew well was Robert (Bob) Williams and that’s because we both walked in the same direction going home from school. He lived at 44th and Queen, so many times he would walk me all the way home. Bob was pretty much a self-taught photographer and had a large professional-looking camera. He would come over and practice taking pictures–not the kind of glamour shots people take today, but nice, normal stuff. He entered some of his work in a big photo studio contest downtown and got an honorable mention, with the picture posted on a tall standard outside.

Also downtown Minneapolis was a place where he went to develop his pictures. The shop had a dark room and lots of tanks with mysterious smelling potions. One night he asked me to go along­–no funny business. He asked if he could borrow my mother’s car, as he didn’t have any transportation that night. My mom said OK. So we went downtown to the shop. He got all his work completed and we were off to home. On the way home we smelled some kind of a burning odor, but had no idea what it was. My mother immediately identified it as the emergency brake being left on. So much for using my mother’s car again!

Anyway, WWII was looming and after graduating Bob joined the army. He was in the 755th Field Artillery in Germany, which was the unit that fought in the famous Battle of the Bulge. Lucky enough to live through it, he came home and married his sweetheart, Rita Jalma. They bought a home  in Richfield and over the years had seven children, five boys and two girls.

Meanwhile, Bob had not forgotten his camera. He used it constantly to track his growing family and again at work for multi purposes. He was an Industrial Engineer at Minneapolis Honeywell and his skills were used in documenting their products. It was sometime during his working days as he was getting older, that people seeing him with his camera started telling him that he resembled the world-famous photographer, Ansel Adams. Agreeing with that conclusion, and to demonstrate the similarity, he created a dummy Time Magazine cover to match the one featuring Adams. The resemblance extended to the fact that Bob, too, was an accomplished photographer. As a sideline, he taught the recreation department course, Introduction to Photography at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. These two men, so close in many ways made a true “twin pix.”