Member Recognition Column

The Simsbury Camera Club thrives because of the dedicated volunteer spirit of our members. George Zars was one of our past members who exemplified that spirit. In looking to honor his memory, I was inspired to organize this column which will recognize members past and present who have, over time, exhibited participation and volunteerism above and beyond that of the average member. This “Member Recognition Column”, written by Lou Norton, (at times extrapolating information from previous issues of “Focal Point”, by Ben Skaught), will highlight a member about every two months and will be archived on our website for future reference.

In this edition we are featuring NATHAN GUTMAN, another long time and valued member of our club. Nathan first joined the club in 1978. If you knew Nathan, you liked him. He was a cheerful man who was always willing to lend you hand in the world of photography. He was one of the driving forces behind our monthly workshops teaching how to use software to enhance your pictures as well as other aspects of photography. Staying active and contributing to the club became a part of Nathan’s life because he stated he viewed SCC as “a bunch of friends interested in photography”. Like most of us, he credited the monthly contests with their ever-changing categories to force him into photographing subjects which, otherwise, he may not have attempted; thereby expanding his range of skills.

Although Nathan could be sitting in a camera club meeting and blending with other members, his life was a stark contrast to others. Lou Norton interviewed Nathan on many occasions and has written several documents telling about his life. Nathan was a cherished friend of Lou Norton. It became an overwhelming task for Lou to simply document Nathan as an SCC member; so, he has added links at the bottom of this article to offer other papers he has written if you are interested to read more about his life.

“Images created by members of the club have always been a source of inspiration for me. It forces me to think how I can emulate the best of the best here.”

Thank you, Nathan, for all you gave to our club and how you inspired us to strive to be better and more creative photographers.

Feel free to email me names of deserving honorees.

Alene Galin, Organizer
[email protected]

Nathan Gutman

Nathan Gutman served as a slave laborer for the Nazis during World War II., Liberated by American soldiers at the Mauthausen concentration camp, Nathan described his initial feelings concerning freedom as exhaustion, bewilderment, elation —the realization that terrible war had ended for him. The physical injuries he suffered as a prisoner would heal in time, but the memories of those years always re-visited him.

When Nathan regained strength, he volunteered as part of a Jewish crew on a refurbished WWII American ship the Altalena. Regrettably, the predominant Israeli political faction viewed immigrants and weapons on the ship as a potential challenge to its authority. The newly formed Israeli defense forces fired upon the Altalena setting it ablaze forcing Nathan to abandoned ship and swim to the “Promised Land.”

Once ashore, the problems that Nathan was about to face were like anyone released from prison, managing his days for learning, earning a livelihood and something new — social connections, recreation, selecting housing within his community and an occupation.

Nathan’s immediate task was to become an Israeli citizen. He spoke Polish, Yiddish and, because of his captivity, conversational German. Nathan knew some Hebrew from his rudimentary religious studies, but was far from fluent in the language. Therefore, he enrolled in an ulpan, a crash-course Hebrew language school for Israel’s recent immigrants. After being moved to various labor camps, Nathan had developed mechanical skills. He decided to become a freelance handyman, but also he served in the Israeli Defense Force as an armored personnel carrier (APC) driver. Nathan’s APC was a tracked ambulance with several white patches and a red Stars of David emblazoned on it, the Israeli counterpart of the Red Cross. As a soldier, he saw action in the Sinai Peninsula during the Suez Crisis of 1956.

To succeed in this rapidly growing country, Nathan needed a high school education and then, with luck, credentials for admission to a college, therefore he enrolled in a remedial schooling program while working to support himself. When he was apprehended by the Germans, he was twelve and had only completed an elementary school.

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