Just as Eisie squeezed off his last shot, I was positioned off to the side photographing Eisie photographing the President as Chelsea watched in the background. After taking his last photo, Eisie said, “I am done.” After waiting a moment, he then looked over at me and said, “William, come here.” I got up off my knee and went to Eisie’s side and put my ear to his face. “Don’t forget to ask!” said Eisie quietly with a stern look in his eyes. “I didn’t forget,” I whispered, “I’ll just take a few more pictures so it doesn’t seem obvious that you just asked me to ask.” Eisie’s eyes lit up as he smiled. Eisie then looked at the President and said, “William will take a few more photos and then we will be done.”
Again, I returned to my former knee on the ground position and began taking a few more snaps. As I was looking through my lens, I saw President Clinton motioning to me to come over to him. I got up and went over. Clinton motioned for me to bend over so he could whisper something. Putting my ear to Clinton’s face, Clinton whispered, “Do you think it will be okay with Eisenstaedt if you take a picture of me sitting with him?” I had all I could to suppress laughing as I answered, “I don’t know. Let me ask him.” Standing up next to the President I said allowed, “Eisie, the President wants to know if it is okay with you for me to take a picture of you sitting with him?” Eisie’s eyes sparkled as he sat there in pregnant silence of about three seconds. “Of course it’s okay,” replied Eisie.
Looking through my camera lens, Clinton appeared like a giant next to Eisie. After I took of few snaps, Hillary and Chelsea got into the picture and, as a fitting finale’, Lulu also joined in.
The above story is accurate and true. It is also the story I ended up telling at Eisie’s memorial service in the Chilmark Church after his death at age 97.5 years at Midnight, August 24, 1995. During the last days of Eisie’s life, he asked me to drive him to various Vineyard places dear to his heart: the Granary Gallery to look at his pictures and visit with friends and admirers; to see West Tisbury’s fair grounds and farmer’s market; the Chilmark Church flea market; to witness the churning waves at Squibnocket Beach from hurricane Felix; the Keith Farm on Middle Road; to stop and spend some quiet time next to the Gay Head lighthouse while looking down at the clay cliffs and remarking about the beauty of a nearby patch of Queen Anne’s Lace wildflowers; to travel to Lobsterville, and finally, to see his beloved Dutcher’s Dock at Menemsha while watching the sun set.
While sitting in the parking lot near Dutcher’s Dock, Eisie once told me the story of how a newspaper man named Rodney Dutcher helped raise money for a fishermen’s fund after the 1938 hurricane. Eisie also recalled how he photographed Menemsha after hurricanes and storms; at sunsets; in dense fog, and during early morning light. Most of all, Eisie talked about sharing time at Dutcher’s Dock and walking the Menemsha Bulkhead with his late wife Kathy, and Kathy’s sister, Lulu.
On one occasion while sitting in my car
facing the ocean at Menemsha Beach, for some reason Eisie said, “William,
thank you for taking me to Lucy Vincent Beach that time. It was a beautiful
day. The warm water was nice to walk in. Maybe someday you will write a
book about water. Who knows? Do you think?” Looking into Eisie’s weathered
face and deep blue eyes I said, “Maybe Eisie, who knows, maybe someday
I will find the time.” Eisie’s eyes were an unusual deep blue because of
the implants he had in 1984 and 1985 to remedy cataracts. That is when
Eisie stopped driving.
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