Jesus Martinez, Centinarian

I've been waiting for this occasion. When I first got to Tonopah 25 years ago, Jesus, a young 75 was still collecting a pay check cleaning the Post Office every day. Then the time for retirement came, and Jesus would sit on a grand bench in good weather just outside the post office in the shade. Friends would stop and spend a half hour. My daughter remembers the kids weren't very nice to him as they hawked their newspapers on the Post Office steps on Wednesdays. Jesus would only smile. Finally in the last three years he has been missing. He has to live at the extended care facility now.

I put 4 lenses in the truck with the 8X10 Kodak. I hadn't made up my mind which one to use. I often wait until the moment to decide. It was a noisy dark cave inside the Elks hall where his birthday party was under way. I asked his son if I could set up my antique camera just outside the front doors and when I was ready if we could roll Jesus out for a portrait.

In the end I decided on the 1874 Voigtlander Petzval. I wanted understated dignity. Hope you don't mind me sharing. It's these moments that keep my photo motor running.