Encountering brief & beautiful stories on the job

Staff Blogger: Danielle Zoellner, Photography/Videography Intern


I met Maple Woods while photographing her next to a plant because I liked the colors. She caught me, I apologized and we laughed it off. We made small talk about photography, dogs, and some other things I can’t remember.

I told her I really liked her outfit; it was simple but the colors complimented her. She wore delicate gold jewelry, which she said suited her best. One particular bracelet stood out from the rest.

“It was my husband’s,” she said. “He made it.”

I was impressed, and maybe she saw that I was intrigued, because she answered my questions before I even had to ask them.

“He made it out of shotgun shells from when he served in Vietnam,” she said. “And, it’s not gold, but copper.”

“It was a gift,” she continued to say. “He gave it to me the first time he told me, ‘I love you.’”

I felt my face displaying my amazement, but I had no words. We both sort of smiled and looked at the bracelet she had been holding the whole time.

In something so small, and in such a short period of time, I had learned a beautiful story.

During another one of my photography errands, I passed Albert Nocente working the booth at the Shuffleboard Courts. I found something interesting in how he looked behind the desk, so I asked if I could take his picture.

He said, “Sure.” And a few snaps later, I continued with my errands.

A few weeks later, I’m working on the Snapshots page for the Lakesider and I want to use his picture, but I realize I don’t have his name. So, I head down to the Shuffleboard court and luckily, he’s there.

I get his name and make small talk for a bit before heading back to the office. I finish the Snapshots page, complete with Albert’s picture, only to have my editor point out that I didn’t get Albert’s last name.

Feeling a little self-conscious, but determined to use Albert’s picture, I head back down to the Shuffleboard Courts to ask for this last detail.

“Nocente (know-cent-e),” he said as he showed me the spelling on his employee pass.

I repeated it back to him and the question rolled off my tongue.

“Is that Italian?”

“Yes, it is,” he said, seeming surprised that I would have guessed. To be honest, I was surprised as well.

“Oh, wow, that’s cool,” I said. “Have you been to Italy?”

Unsure why I had asked that question, I had a brief moment of panic that I had put him on the spot.

But, to my delight, he eagerly shared that he has visited Italy multiple times, and once to the hometown and villa of his father, who was an immigrant with his parents in 1897. Within 10 minutes, he had shared his history and the history of his family with me.

A simple story in a small amount of time, but beautiful nonetheless. Just like the modest copper bracelet that I had once admired on Maple.

In my short two months at Lakeside, I have learned that there are many stories to be told here.

You don’t know who you will meet or what you will hear. The important bit is taking the time to discover it.

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