The Past Never Dies


Vesta and Tiff 004


It Just Grows Older

Here are Vesta and Tiffany in Jeramiah McCain’s Phonograph Record Store in Belmont Shore, California. That was a pretty fancy name we had for our record store, Vesta and me, and for reasons I could never quite grasp, the locals, just called it McCain’s.

And where did that name come from? Well, we had a store before this one, called Hezakiah McCain’s in Huntington Beach and we had a partner named Greg and he wanted to call it Greg’s Records.

“That’s stupid,” I said.

“Oh, and I suppose you’d like to call it Ken’s Records?”

“That’s just as dumb,” I said. “Who’d ever call a record store something like that.” Though I will confess, a few years later, when Vesta and I were living on a sailboat in the Caribbean, we came across a record store called just that on the small island of Bequia. It was a pretty good little store actually, considering it’s location.

“How about Hezakiah’s Records then?” Greg said. We had an old man Halloween mask that we’d put over our heads to scare kids and old ladies, who came around when we were building the store. The mask looked pretty gosh darned real and when one of us was wearing it, he was Hezakiah.

“I don’t think so,” I said. “How about McCain’s records?”

“Where the heck did you come up with that?

“You know,” I said, “after Lucas McCain, the Rifleman.”

“I love that show,” Greg said. One of the local stations was currently running reruns everyday.

“Okay, how about Hezakiah McCain’s Record Store.”

“I like it,” Greg said and Hezakiah McCain was born and later he had a brother named Jeramiah, then another named Ezekial and then finally another named Zachariah. And yes, I know because I’ve been told many times, that we’d misspelled Hezakiah and Jeramiah. What can I say, we were young and dumb and spelling was not our strong suit. We made expensive signs that lit up at night on our stores, so we couldn’t correct the spelling, even if we wanted to.

Anyway, when I had tee shirts made, it just seemed prudent to call the store, McCain’s, because that’s what everybody else called it.


Design 6678


And this is how I used to do my design work, you know, before Photoshop. I hated that label maker and I can’t tell you how many times I cut myself with an X Acto knife and how many sheets of rub off letters I’ve used and did anybody ever get to use them all?

And who, who has ever used rubber cement, likes the stuff. When it dries and you try to rub it off, it like turns into giant boogers. And White Out. Something else I need no more. Not pictured, because it’s on the other end of the table is an IBM Selectric. Something else replaced by my computer.

And those rows and rows of records, all gone, but not forgotten, because the music is stored in my MacBook.

Heck, just about everything you see in this photo, including the typewriter you can’t see and bazillions of records not pictured, are stored on a MacBook which I can take with me wherever I go.

And don’t get me started on the darkroom I need no more, cuz now it’s in my computer. And the film I don’t need anymore.

I can’t wait for the next round of technology to hit, cuz I hear they’re gonna have a computer that stores your clothes and keeps ‘em clean and dresses you in the morning. I can’t wait.

Meanwhile, I gotta get my head out of the past and move on up to the present and that's got me thinking about the time I drove six hundred miles for a haircut.

We didn’t drive all the way to Portland just to get my haircut, but since a girl up there gave me the best one I ever had about six months ago, I figured I’d be stupid not see could she do it again.


Haircut 7652


Her name is Cali Clements and she works at Bishop’s Northeast, which is a rock & roll haircutting place which serves beer. Though I didn’t have one, cuz 10:00 in the AM is a bit early for me.

I’ve had a lotta different people cut my hair over the years. Some I liked, some not so much. There was this girl Sonya, who did my hair for a couple years when we lived in Belmont Shore, CA. She was trained by those Sassoon People in San Francisco, New York and Paris and getting your hair cut by her was an experience you didn’t forget right away.

She was hot and her body was all over you as she snipped, snipped, snipped away and by the time it was done and you were looking in the mirror you felt like “Whew! What just happened here?” She’d ask did I like the haircut and I’d always answer yes.

Then about five minutes later as I was walking home, I’d see my reflection in a store window and just sorta shake my head, cuz she’d done it again, given me a bad Peter Tork (he was in the Monkeys) haircut. Why oh why did I keep going back? Well, I suppose because having her cut your hair was just so damned exciting.

I remember a very, mucho hot day when we lived in Trinidad, I decided not only did I not need long hair anymore, but I didn’t need any at all. So we went to West Mall, which was on the way to Port of Spain, and I told the girl they assigned to me in the salon there to just shave it all off.

“Oh I can’t do that,” she said.

“Okay, then cut it short.”

“But I’ve never cut a white person’s hair before, what if I mess it up?”

“Then you can shave it all off.”

“Okay.” She cut away and by the time she was finished, I looked like a very distinguished gentleman. I went back to her a lot.

I’ve had my hair cut in Paris and New York, Mallorca and Singapore, Whangarai and Phuket and lots of other places, including airports where smart people never get their haircut and barbershops where if you even mentioned the word salon, they’d slit your throat.

But never, never ever have I stepped out of a barber chair looking as good (well, I suppose that’s debatable, cuz I surely looked better when I was younger, but you get what I’m trying to say) as I do when Cali cuts my hair.

I used to get my hair cut once a year, whether it needed it or not, but now that we work wedding shows a couple three times a year, Vesta thinks I gotta look respectable. So, no more Mr. Shaggy.

But before I go, I gotta mention that Cali did my hair in such a way so that bald spot I discovered last month—you know, the bald spot everybody new about, but didn’t tell me about—was gone and I didn’t even need any paint. My rock and roll hair just sorta goes straight back and covers it.

I don’t know if that qualifies as a comb over or not, but I’m going for it doesn’t.

Anyway, if you’re ever in Portland and you want a beer and a haircut, stop in at Bishop’s Northeast and ask for Cali, you’ll be glad you did.

The only problem is, and I didn't realize it till I got home, is that Cali gave present day wedding photographer Ken the same kind of haircut that the FBI guys had who were chasing after the past's bootlegger Ken and I didn't even realize it till Vesta got the idea to photograph me and my two brothers with me in the shirt below. 


FBI 8976


John and Tom were passing through, becasue they we’re on their way to our cousin Johanna’s place in Baker City. And from there to Portland for a memorial service for my cousin Will. Vesta and I had to be in North Dakota for a wedding, so we couldn't go.

Anyway, that’s why we were all three in Reno at one time, wearing these glasses in this photo. Whenever we’re together, we always wind up arguing about which one of us is better looking. I vote for the guy in the middle. Others may have a different opinion. However, looking at this photo, it seems we look more alike now, than when we were kids.

I like the look Vesta got of us, almost like we’re desperadoes of some kind. We’re not, though we did one day, a long time ago, face down some bad guys in L.A. We had guns, they did not. So we did have the edge.

Now, I’m a wedding photographer, Tom’s a professor and John’s a lawyer. We were badasses once, for a day. Now we are again, in this photo, for a few minutes, which is everlovin' proof that the past never really dies, it just grows older.

Ken Douglas Wedding and Portrait Photography, 1250 Ralston Street, Reno, NV 89503 
Phone: 775 393-9529