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A virtual and a real friendship

28 February 2015

I do not remember how I first became aware of Jim Shulman. I joined the Leica Users Group mailing list in 1998. At some point I noticed this guy from Philadelphia who not only posted great pictures but also seemed to be very witty. I think the first time I met Jim in person was in 2004, when we were visiting the US, not least to show our children the places where they were born, and had lunch with Jim and Kyle Cassidy somewhere in the centre of Philadelphia.

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Then, in 2011, I was spending a few days in Washington and took the train up to Philadelphia to visit Jim and his husband John.

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I was treated to a ride in their awesome supertanker on wheels, complete with all the correct period equipment, and then to a dinner which I still remember as one of the funniest evenings I have ever spent. Imagine a group of 5 or 6 guys, telling true stories from their past careers, most of them absolutely hilarious but also not fit to print 😉

Jim also showed me a type of Pennsylvania cultural institution that I had never visited before: a drive-in liquor store.

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And he took me to Hymie’s, a true temple of Jewish deli-ness.

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In 2012, we were on another family vacation in the US, and on the way home from California we had a 12-hour layover in Philadelphia. Jim met us at the airport at 6 a.m., took us for breakfast at Hymie’s and then entertained us in his home before taking us back to the airport for our flight home.

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Jim and John have a beautiful home with many antique record players and lots of other decorations from the 1920s–just something for my wife. And Jim is a veritable fount of information and stories about his neighbourhood, where he seems to know everybody and everybody seems to know him.

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And just this week, Jim and John welcomed my son Moses into their home for an overnight stay, since he is moving from Buffalo to Landsdale, not far from Philadelphia.

Why am I telling all this? Because I find it really neat that something that started out as an online acquaintance on a photography mailing list has morphed into a friendship in the real world. And I have made several other friends over the years during my now 17 years on that Leica list.

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