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Welcome to this Web site which honors my grandfather
on the 100th anniversary of his birth, March 13, 1913
This Web site is dedicated to celebrating the life and photography of this man of many talents.
David Kaukonen was an avid amateur photographer for nearly 50 years, from the 1930s up to his death in 1982. Over those decades, his camera equipment evolved with the changing technology, progressing from a folding camera and a twin-lens reflex camera to a more modern single-lens reflex, as seen to the right.
He also had his own darkroom (which doubled as his wife's laundry room), developing his own negatives and printing his own photos for many years. To the left is a rare photo of David in his darkroom, looking at a print he just made. Even though he never grew tired of taking pictures, he did eventually stop processing his own film. His daughters have some distinct memories about this place — read them at Darkroom Stories.
David had numerous other talents besides photography. He was a jack of many trades, and a master of them! David earned his living painting the interior and exterior of local houses and businesses. He was well known for his wallpapering, stencilling, and the high quality of his work. After he died, past customers would tell his daughter Gloria (my mom) that they missed his work and that they just couldn't seem to find anyone else with his high standards.
One of David's major hobbies, besides photography, was furniture / cabinet making. He was so good at it that he could have done it for a living rather than painting. He made numerous pieces for his own house, other family and friends, and his church. And he didn't limit himself to fine furniture and cabinets. In the 1940s, he was part of a team, along with his father-in-law and painting business partner Jacob Foltan, that built the original Grace Lutheran church building in Santa Maria (now the Fellowship Hall across the street from the current church building — see photo to the right). He also built an authentic Finnish sauna at home, as well as other additions and improvement to his house. After I was born, he even found time to make me a red wooden train toy box, which was passed on to my kids when they were young.
David was also a master of the Santa Maria Style Barbecue. I have many fond memories of going with my family to grandma and grandpa's house for an afternoon barbecue — it was SO good! Over the course of my childhood I must have spent many, many hours around the large barbecue pit David had built in his covered patio at the back of the house. And I'll never forget one time when the master barbecuer had a little mishap....
One time we all went down to Riverside, California, to visit my Aunt Sharon Meacham (David's youngest daughter) and her family. Because David was the barbecue master, he was put in charge of grilling the steaks out in the backyard by the pool. The meat was ready to be turned over when he realized that nobody had brought out any cooking utensils. But looking up, he saw a large, long-handled spatula hanging on the outside wall of the house. He went over and took it down, probably thinking to himself what a good idea it was to keep a barbecue utensil so handy.
It's not known exactly how many times he flipped the meat with that spatula, but eventually one of the Meachams came out and realized, with great horror, that David had used the "pooper scooper" (used to pick up the dog poop in the backyard)! Word quickly spread amongst the family, and after recovering from the initial shock, everyone had a great laugh over it — except perhaps David was feeling more chagrinned than amused. My dad "rescued" the meat by cutting off all of the edges — if the meat tasted any different that meal, it was probably due more to imaginations run wild than to offended taste buds!
There is not enough time or space to tell you about all of David's talents, skills, hobbies, accomplishments and exploits. This brief introduction will have to suffice — hopefully it has whetted your appetite to explore the rest of this Web site and discover much more about David Kaukonen and his pictures — the art of an amateur photographer. Enjoy! And be SURE to sign the Guest Book and leave your comments before you're finished!
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