I just had a very enlightening and wonderful weekend. I was privledged enough to spend most of Saturday with Fred Lustig. For those of you who don't know who this gentleman is, he could be called another SK Grimes.
When Graflex went under, Midwest Photo Exchange bought the remaining parts and stock of cameras. They found they just didn't have time to keep up with the demand for repairs. Fred loving and having worked for Graflex took on the daughting task of graflex repairs. He thus acquired the remaing stock from MPEX. To Fred this is not to supply an income since he was fortunate in life to have made a very comfortable living and retirement. (Hint he just celebrated his 54th wedding annaversary) He does this to make sure that those graflex still in use will have proper repairs done. He doesn't need to work, He just loves analog photography enough that this is what keeps him going in his retirement.
His ethic is to have the camera leave his shop better than it was before it broke. His turn around times are incredible. If it is urgent he can have it fed exed to him one afternoon and he will have it out the next day back to the person in need.
What is unique about Fred is that he can work on other cameras as well. He has a full machine shop and will fabricate any part no matter how complex to replace a part if one is not available. The new part will also be stronger than the one he is replacing.
In his basement he also has a full museum of old mint condition graflex cameras from the day they were first produced to the very end. Of course after viewing hundreds of cameras, I turned to my hubby and said, "I don't want to hear another word about me having 8 cameras!"
Fred is conviently located in Reno Nv. for those of us on the West side of the country. If anyone wantshis address and telephone number it is available on the Graflex site or I can post it here.
Another thing I fell in love with at his home was the very first production Benz car made in 189? I was so awestruck by it sitting in the foyer of his home I barely heard when it was made. It still works and he takes it out once in a while for a car show. It looked like a small buggy that needed a horse. It was the precusors of todays Mercedes Benz. All of which I can't afford.
The l;ast thing that makes this man so remarkable is that about 18 months ago he suffered a massive stroke. He was completely peralyzed on one half of his body. It was the people who re had done repairs for and the graflex community that sent their support and well wishes to him that gave him the determination to fight his way back. His left arm is still mostly useless. He walks with a pronounced limp and has his moments where he seems to teeter percariously. But the warm smile and the fierce determination to win his health battle to continue his work is just short of miraculous. He is a photographic gem that I hope lives long and keeps working at what he loves.