Blue Suburban Skies
When John moved to New York in the 1970s he suddenly had a desire for memories of his childhood and began to write to Stan and Liela for family photographs and souvenirs. He even had Mimi send him the family clock that had hung on the wall of ‘Mendips.’
Stan also recalled, “We would literally talk about anything and everything, particularly about the devastation of Liverpool by the dreadful bombing that had taken place.
“We’d also discuss the famous American film stars from the movies we went to see, the stars that were in all the 1940s films, especially as Judy had been a cinema usherette. She could quote the dialogue from most of the films she’d seen almost word for word.
“John and I would also chat about our collection of toy Dinky cars and the Meccano sets that we would swap with one another.”
Stan and his family moved to Edinburgh and John would join them there regularly for his holidays.
“John, cousin Liela and I were very close,” recalls Stan, “From Edinburgh we would bundle into the car and head up to the family croft at Durness. That went on from about the time John was nine years old until he was about sixteen. He loved his holidays up there.”
John and Stan kept in touch throughout the 1960s, but when John moved to New York they had little personal contact, although they corresponded.
The last letter Stan received was one reading, “Come on man, send me a postcard! Life is short. Love and Happy New Year, John.”
Copyright Stan Parkes and Bill Harry from their forthcoming book.
Editor’s Note: Stan also told me about John’s favourite books: “We were all great readers and keen on all types of books. One very keen favourite was ‘The Wind In The Willows’, all of Alexander Dumas books: ‘The Three Musketeers’, ‘The Man In The Iron Mask’, etc, also the wartime adventurer Capt W.J. Johns of the Biggles books. John built up a collection of very expensive Art books and others of all kinds at Kenwood, his Weybridge home, on the advice of experts in their field of course. He had bookshelves built all around his TV room to hold his collection. You name it, he had it.”
John also had a large bible which he’d bought in Chester and books by Swift, Tennyson, Huxley, Tolstoy and Oscar Wilde. Other samples of his reading matter included ‘Little Women’, all the William books by Richmael Crompton, ‘Forty-One Years In India’ by Field Marshall Lord Roberts and ‘Curiosities Of Natural History’ by Francis T Buckland.
All those early photographs of John and Aunt Mimi in Mendips in the 1940s were taken by Stan.
When Stan’s father died in 1946, Stan began taking photographs with his father’s Box Brownie camera and began photographing John in Fleetwood in 1947. He next began taking photographs of John and Mimi in Liverpool in 1948 and over the years took further photographs at Aunt Mimi’s house ‘Mendips’, at Aunt Anne’s house ‘Ardmore’ at his Ormindale Terrace home in Scotland and at the Croft in Durness – as well as at John’s home in Weybridge. He was known as ‘the family photographer.’
Among the famous shots were the one of Aunt Mimi and John, John at the age of 8 with his first bicycle and photographs in the garden at Mendips and Ardmore.
Stan informed me “I took all these photographs with me when I was down visiting in Liverpool with my mother in 1964.
“Aunt Mimi suddenly decided that she would like to have all the photographs that I had taken to send out to her cousin’s in New Zealand – that would be all our mother’s cousins also. But she was the one that kept in touch by mail over the years.
“I gave her the negative roll of film. She had it developed and she wrote on the back of each photograph explaining in her handwriting who everyone was. All her cousins are deceased now, but I have taken over where she left off and I write to their offspring, who are our second cousins.
“Cousin Millward sent me a photocopy of the front and back of all the photographs that I took with Mimi’s handwriting, confirming that I was the one that took all the family photographs.”
Stan made copies of his family photographs and sent them to members of his family, including his cousins. In the early 1970s John was nostalgic about his home and began writing to Stan and cousin Liela, requesting various items, including the clock that used to be in the Cottage. Liela also sent him a set of Stan’s photographs.
Stan became puzzled some years ago when he began to see his photographs reproduced without his permission in books, magazines and on CD’s – and was even more surprised to see that they were credited to ‘Lenono Archives.’
There is an interesting quote in Geoffrey Giulianos’ book ‘Lennon In America’: “Lennon was obsessed with collecting
mementos of his Liverpool youth, requesting old family photographs from his sisters and cousins, and badgering Mimi to ship over her Mendips china, cutlery, Toby jugs, and even an old grandfather Clock belonging to his Uncle George. Anything John’s relatives could send comforted him, reminding him of his faraway home and extended family.”
How could Lenono Archives possibly claim the copyright to photographs which Stan took and which he retained the copyright of? He had a request from the publishers of ‘The Beatles Anthology’ book to send them copies of his photographs, which they wanted to use in the official book. Stan sent Genesis Publication prints of his photographs but when they appeared they were credited, once again, to ‘Lenono Archives.’ When he contacted Genesis they said they’d get on to Apple. He next received a cheque for the use of his copyright photographs and the promise that he would be credited in the paperback edition – which he wasn’t.
Stan had even pointed out that the captions to several of his photographs were incorrect, particularly the photograph of himself and John standing in the doorway of Mendips. Stan was sixteen at the time and John was eight. He had given Mimi his camera to take of a photograph of the two of them – but when it was published in the Anthology book it stated ‘John with Uncle George.’ The photograph that Stan took of his cousins in the garden of his mother’s house in Rock Ferry was captioned ‘In the garden of Menlove Avenue.’
Although Stan pointed this out to the publishers, they never corrected it in the paperback edition.
However, the fact that Apple paid Stan for the rights to publish his pictures is further confirmation of his intellectual property rights. – and since Yoko Ono is a part owner of Apple, it is surprising that she is still sending publications copies of Stan’s photographs crediting them to ‘Lenono Archives.’
Possibly she wasn’t aware that Stan took the photographs if she had found them among John’s possessions after his death and just presumed that they belonged to John. But although John may have had physical prints of Stan’s photographs, surely the actual copyright still remained with Stan.