Memories of Staten Island Ferry and Arthur vol.2
At the Staten Island Ferry terminal in Manhattan, there was an old operator
who sets a boarding bridge for passengers. Whenever the ferry arrived,
his wrinkled tough hands manipulated the lever to move heavy chains which
suspended the bridge. Of course, there were many operators at the South
Ferry Terminal in Manhattan. So I didn't see him everyday. But when I saw
his figure next to the bridge from the ferry deck, I thought "Uh,
he is there today"and some how I was relieved.
Maybe I felt sober and veteran on him. I really wanted to take his portrait.
So one day, I asked him for taking his photo. His name was Arthur. He liked
jazz, he said. I told him that I was huge jazz fun too. So he mentioned
the name of Japanese jazz pianist. "I like Toshiko Akiyoshi"
If it could be lip service to me, Japanese. But anyway Arthur said so with
full of smile. He accepted my request of portrait shooting. I asked his
work schedule and promised him I would be back in couple of days with camera.
3 days later, I visited the South Ferry holding a bunch of photo equipment.
He was in the morning shift on the day. I opened up all equipment, medium
format camera, strobe, light stand and photo umbrella, on the floor. So
he looked getting little surprise. He had never imagined such a big photo
For me, I was surprised for him. Because his job was much busier than I
had expected. To tell the truth, I wanted to take his portrait in front
of the docking ferry. But of course, we had no time to do it. Ferries came
and went every 10 minutes in the morning rush hour.
After all, it ended up 5 minute quick session within the safety distance
for getting back to the operating lever quickly. Any way, we made it successfully.
Arthur dashed toward the bridge as soon as we had done it. I saw the full
loaded ferry was reaching to the bridge. "Well, I don't have time
too. I gotta packed up all my stuff quickly. Or I must be jostled by a
When I looked back, he was already standby on his position. Arthur's big
hands were moving the bridge as usual. I thumbed up to him. So did him.
"Portrait" NYC, New York, USA 1995