Richard, at the Pop-Up Piano in Lincoln Center
(35/100 Strangers) Two weeks before his 18th Birthday, Richard received a letter. "Thanks to the great service of our countrymen, we have won the war." With World War II ending, they suggested he try to get out of the draft, "but that was impossible." There was a lot more pressure to serve back then, and Richard found himself in Germany, lecturing the troops.
"It was illegal to even speak to a German. That was before I arrived." As a part of his duties, he was the only one allowed the lecture the Germans. When asked what gave him that privilege, he wasn't sure why. "Even then, you couldn't date a German. But then, colonels were you guys who had just killed 35 guys, so you can imagine how well that rule stuck."
Richard was also a photography buff, and would walk down an entire block, photographing each house. He would walk up to the door, show off the picture of their house, and sell it to them. "I sold a lot of work that way. If the husband wasn't interested, the wife would be. She would say 'Oh, we put the window boxes (flowers) out that day, we have to buy it!'" Later, he hired a crop duster to fly him low over the neighborhoods, directing him lower and lower, until the pilot was uncomfortable. "And he was a duster. He was used to flying low." He would take shots from above. You could see houses that would normally be surrounded by shrubs, or other obstructions.
When he wasn't serving in the military, Rich directed four cameras for live television. "It was live back then. If you made a mistake, a hundred thousand people would see it. So we didn't make mistakes." His girlfriend of 20 years is also no stranger to the camera. She works side-by-side with the camera crew and director, and is responsible for the consistency from shot to shot. She just got back from filming in the Pyrenees, in Northern Spain.
I found Richard by the pop-up piano in Lincoln Center. we spoke for about half an hour before I asked to take his portrait.
Richard was very helpful, and as