Vollis and his dad moved houses. They didn’t box up people’s belongings. They transported whole buildings. And bridges. And barns. Each job threw up new problems so the work required a creative mind. In his 20s Vollis was stationed on the island of Saipan in the South Pacific, he was an Air Force staff sergeant. The skills he’d acquired working for his pop in North Carolina were put to use again. Thousands of army uniforms were laundered in a huge washing machine powered by a windmill he’d made from parts of a decommissioned B-29 bomber. When he returned to his home town of Lucama he opened a repair shop. He used scrap from the local junkyard, timberyard and boatyard. He retired at 65 and, never having been ‘the type to sit down and do nothing’, he began to construct windmills, 50 foot windmills. In the mid 90s the man who ‘just built windmills’ became known as an artist. Wilfrid interviewed him for the art magazine ‘Raw Vision’ and bought a small whirligig (windmill). Vollis’s local town, a faded trading centre, has now stopped hosting the annual Tobacco Festival Parade and instead hosts the Wilson Whirligig Festival.
Three planes flew across the expanse of blue. A cluster of small clouds sprung from the clear sky and grew like ink in water. The bomb hit Hiroshima less than a minute later. The bomb’s mid-air detonation dispersed the explosion maximising destruction to the city below. The Japanese army assumed that the planes picked up by the radar were on a reconnaissance trip to assess the weather. But the Americans already knew that the conditions were right. They had a clear view, not only of the target, but also of the impact of the atomic bomb, the first ever dropped in warfare. On 5th August 1945 Chieko and Saburo boarded a cramped train with their young son Takeshi. They were increasingly uneasy living in Hiroshima with its large military base so they moved 200 miles to the west, to Fukuoka. Had they decided to leave just one day later they would never have had their daughter Akiko and Akiko would never have had Maki. Chieko, Maki’s grandmother, made kimonos throughout her life, she made this bag from an old one she’d worn until it was threadbare. She gave it to Maki, urging her to have a daughter so she could make her a kimono. Chieko died at 88, just two years before Maki was married.
Christine and Richard had three children. It was 1979 and in a small village just north of Cambridge women’s lives revolved around shared babysitting, ‘having babies and meeting up for tea’ to discuss babies. Christine’s days were spent caring for her sons. And sometimes her friends’ sons. But only sons. It had been years since a girl had been born and an odd fear was developing in a few of the villagers that something was preventing the conception of girls. In early 1980 Christine’s bump began to show, she was pregnant with her fourth child. There was heightened anticipation in the small community, if Christine didn’t give birth to a girl young couples might actually consider leaving the village. On the 10th of September Christine gave birth – to a girl, Rebecca Louise. The villagers collectively shook off their irrational panic and celebrated. This little mug was a present given to baby Rebecca on the day she came home from the hospital.
She sat stroking the carpet listening to Bobby Brown. She idled down the sunny street eating burritos with her sisters, Sunmi and Funmi. She played football with her uncle’s dog in the yard. Even at 7 years old Wunmi remembers consciously feeling at home. Twenty years later she was back there. Her choice of where to study was dictated by which universities partnered with US colleges. King’s College, London offered a degree in American Studies with a year at the University of California, San Diego. And the girl who hated camping in cold, damp England became the girl who spent successive weekends eating s’mores under the stars. In her first year, she was still unfamiliar with the currency and was too embarrassed to have shop assistants wait while she worked out how to pay them in change. Her purse was heavy with dimes and quarters. She noticed that the quarters were all different, that they each represented 1 of the 50 states. This is the collection she amassed, she is 6 short, so she’ll have to go back – to find Alaska, Iowa, Wyoming, Mississippi, New Mexico and Hawaii.
Patrick’s parents were working as missionaries in Africa so in term time he lived with his uncle. His uncle was a headmaster. Patrick’s family had the sensitivity to have him educated at another school, but at weekends he had private printing lessons taught by the art teacher from his uncle’s school. His friend John came along. It was 1951 and they had just turned 13. This early introduction to printing was the seed for a passion that has lasted 6 decades. John went on to study architecture but continued to print, he’s kept all the screen printed covers he designed for his college magazine in the late 50s. As the new recruit at work, he was introduced to an architect who went on to give him his old book binding press. John drove his Morris 1000 up to Dedham to collect it. As he grew more ambitious he started enquiring about a larger press, an Albion. He found one but it was in pieces, his wife forbade him to buy it unless it was refurbished. And this is it, lovingly serviced and delivered, all 3/4 of a tonne of it, by local print engineer and strongman Chris Holiday.
The man said ‘Be lucky’, passed Lisa a dollar and walked away. Tom described the $200 that she made as ‘a nice amount…nothing life changing’. Tom and Lisa had an evening catching up when she was back from Vegas. He told her he’d given notice on his flat, he was moving in with his girlfriend. But they’d split up and now he was heartbroken and tired after a tedious couple of weeks trying to find a new place. Lisa handed him the lucky dollar. Tom kept it folded on his bedside table and eventually ‘life just sorted itself out’. Lisa had a baby, Dylan. Tom asked her if Dylan would perhaps like the dollar now. But Lisa said no, it was his and maybe there was still some luck in it for him.