Feb 8, 2006

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Bill Simmons


Simmons and Simonson… I admire them both. Gentlemen, thanks for the history. Thanks for the memories. I have examined with love thousands of your photos.

As we have written here, Herman Simonson was a precise and technical professional – always the cool one. Then there was Bill Simmons. He managed to mess up many a shot. But Bill was an artist who knew a visual story when he saw one and was quick to record it through the camera lens. He had an uncanny ability to capture the essence of the scene. I write based on first hand experience because from 1940 to 1960 I was here to witness the time and the place.

Five years ago I was the first to unveil Bill’s collection – the quality was only suspected at first. Thousands of negatives buried in little brown envelopes with labels like, fishermen, oval, oxbow, and pavilion. Two full wooden boxes had been given by the Simmons family a few years previous. The magic of our new computer finally revealed what we had. What a spectacular trip back in time it was.

William Roscoe Simmons (1891-1966) was from Kansas, Chicago and finally Saugatuck in the last twenty five years of his life. He was editor of the Commercial Record twice under different owners. He made his living from the newspaper, photo work by order, portraits, advertising productions and postcards. He had a small studio which was located on the Saugatuck square in exactly the same location as Miller Robinson’s much earlier studio (click HERE to see last week's story).

There are numerous great photos made by Bill. Above are a few of my favorites that capture the essence of the Saugatuck in the “good old days”. For a large sample of the collection get the 2001 Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society book OFF THE RECORD by James Schmiechen with Jack Sheridan and Kit Lane.              by Jack Sheridan

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