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Lambert recounts memorable Herald photos

Don Lambert
Special to The Ottawa Herald
Bell and apple.

Editor’s Note: Don Lambert, former Ottawa Herald reporter and photojournalist from 1973-78, chronicles here some of his most memorable photos. Don Lambert now lives in Kansas City, Mo.

My first day as a cub reporter at The Ottawa Herald, the boss handed me a camera and said that in addition to writing about the news, I'd be expected to photograph it.

"Go," the boss said, pointing to the beyond.

"But," I whined, "I don't know anything about taking pictures." Which was true, because my journalism degree from Kansas State University a year earlier had included no photo course, not even one of those “Photography for Dummies” workshops.

"Go," the boss repeated.

So go I did, taking hundreds of photos during my five years at The Herald from 1973-78.

Mostly, they were in three categories. There were the bona fide news photos, few and far between, like the Amtrak derailment near Quenemo and the trial of Nellie Schoonover, convicted of murdering her ninth husband.

There were the photos I'd taken to accompany a story such as the retirement of Louie Ruby from his downtown shoe-shine business and the OU student from an Ottawa Indian reservation after it was uncovered that, because of a long forgotten agreement, Ottawa Indians would be given free admission to Ottawa University. And there were the feature photos of regular folks doing regular things, like the girl selling snow cones on her street corner.

I never considered myself a great photographer, or even a good one. Many were the times I had to re-photograph something. What I did have, at least on a few good days, was to take a photograph that was more than a photo. It represented a story, quirks and all.

Here are my favorites.

• My first photo in The Herald was of a bouquet of flowers, an apple and a school bell. Proudly I handed it to the boss. "This is hardly what I had in mind for our newspaper," the boss said. I explained that it was the recreation of the first day at a one-room country school at the Old Depot Museum.

"Many of our readers will relate," I explained. "I, too, went to a one-room country school."

"So did I," the boss said. "I get it now, we'll run it on the first page."

• Frozen Finial, on top of Franklin County Courthouse, since demolished because of deterioration.

• Cell in Franklin County jail, shortly before demolition, with view of Christian Science Society.

• Bicentennial menu at Big Boy restaurant.

• Louie Ruby, retirement from the shoe-shining business.

• Sisters.

• Miss Bernhardt, ballet teacher.

• Karen White, having cut her first record with "Slam-Bam" on one side and "Lay With Me" on the other.

• Whoppers, people brought in their prized findings; catfish and double-sized eggs.

• The double-headed calf died before I could get there.

Franklin County Jail.