Story Preservation Initiative®

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Archive for ‘May, 2011’

Great Island Photography’s 10,000 Years Portrait Project

I’m meeting marvelous people as I continue my work through Story Preservation.

Tom McHugh and Lindsay Holmes of Great Island Photography in New London, New Hampshire have started a project titled:  10,000 Years Portrait Project.

In Tom and Lindsay’s words:

Great Island Photography’s ongoing portrait project is one started from the heart. I shared a warm and wonderful relationship with my grandparents and having had the priviledge of that very special time with those who had seen so much; from horse & buggy to automobile; from telegraph to telephone; from gazing at the stars to a man walking on the moon, I realized early that from those who had experienced more of life, more was to be learned. Wisdom and compassion can often be found carved upon our features as we age and they are beautiful.

This project focuses on portraits of a 1,000 plus persons throughout New England, over the age of 80, who have “seen and done much” until we reach the goal of 10,000 years.

Pictured above is Anthony “Joe the Barber” Cymerys.

His story follows:

Anthony Cymerys, or “Joe the Barber,” will be 80 this March. He worked in real estate and construction, retired early and became a “Gentlemen Farmer”. 

Some twenty-five years ago he volunteered to do some community outreach at the Immaculate Conception Shelter on Park Street in Hartford, CT. When he tells the story it goes something like this, “I walked in to the shelter looking to speak with someone in charge, and one of the shelter workers yelled at me, “Hey you, get back in line!”

“But I’m here to volunteer,”  protested Joe.

So began what would become the centerpiece of Joe’s life. 

Joe’s “A Hug for a Haircut” outreach has been written up in The Hartford Courant many times, been featured on all of the local television affiliates, he’s received so many community and civic awards there is no longer room for them to be displayed. 

Every Wednesday evening, often until the early hours, Joe the Barber opens his traveling barber shop in Bushell Park in Hartford, offering free haircuts to the homeless. In the back of his van are free soup and sandwiches. As I’ve heard him remark many times, ” These are my best friends. Money can’t buy what I get for what I do out here.” And the show goes on the road the rest of the week.  Joe adds convalescent homes, shelters and private residences to the places he cuts hair for the price of a hug.

You can read about others who are included in the project at Great Island’s website, which can be found at:

Please send them email about anyone who you feel who be a good addition to the project.