National Geographic : 1990 Apr
On Assignment W ITH GOOD REASON for glee, Senior Writer PRIIT VESILIND chiseled a Schunk off the Berlin Wall last year. In 1944 he had left his native Estonia with his family, fleeing west as the Soviet Army advanced. Father Paul with Priit, mother Aino with brother Aarne, and cousin Salme Kontus faced a choice of destinations in Policka, Czechoslovakia (above right). After four years in a displaced persons camp in West Germany, the family arrived in the small town of Beaver, Pennsylvania, to start anew. Priit graduated from Colgate University, served as an officer in the U. S. Navy, wrote a sports column for the Atlanta Journal,and earned an M.A. in photography at Syracuse Univer sity. He joined the GEOGRAPHIC staff in 1973. One of his most satisfying magazine assignments "Return to Estonia" (April 1980)-gave him the chance to revisit and explain the painful dilemma of his homeland, which had been forcibly annexed by the Soviet Union. When the news hit that the Berlin Wall, the Cold War's most despised symbol, would soon be history, Priit rushed off on two hours' notice to document the I U DAVIDALANHARVEY(LEFT); KARLKONTUS emotional events in a city he had once covered (January 1982). He found the experience so intense that "I couldn't hold back the tears. I could only scribble and weep, scribble and weep." LOOKING FOR HER OWN ROOTS, photographer KAREN KASMAUSKI received this family picture (below) from her Japanese uncle during her first trip back to Japan since infancy. She was traveling there to shoot pictures for our April 1989 article on radiation. Karen was born on Yokosuka Naval Base to a Japanese mother and an American father; at age eight months she joined this fam ily outing with her grandmother Kame and mother, Emiko, to Hakone, a lakeside resort near Mount Fuji. A year later she was in the United States, where she grew up as a typical American and typical "Navy brat." At the University of Michigan Karen pursued a double major in anthro pology and religion "to learn more about how people live and why they do what they do." Working on oral-history projects, she realized photography could be a useful tool. On the radiation story, her fifth for the GEOGRAPHIC, she met Japa nese aunts and cousins; with them she cleaned her grandmother's shrine in a little fishing village and burned incense to her spirit. "I was immediately thrown into an unfamiliar culture. I realized Jap anese women are mythologized in America, especially by men, as if they are all fragile little flowers or geisha. I could see that my own relatives, especially my strong willed mother, were not like that." To explore what Japanese women are really like, Karen proposed the story in this issue. NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC (ISSN 0027-9358) IS PUBLISHEDMONTHLYBYTHE NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY,17THANDM STS. N.W., WASHINGTON,D.C. 20036. $21.00 A YEAR,$2.65 A COPY. SECOND-CLASS POSTAGEPAIDAT WASHINGTON,D. C., AND ELSEWHERE.POSTMASTER: SEND ADDRESSCHANGESTO NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC,P.O. BOX 2174, WASHINGTON,D. C. 20013.