Arthur C. Pillsbury Foundation

Protecting and Preserving All Life -- By Extending Human Vision

Dennis L. Taylor
 dtaylor@montereyherald.com
Dennis L. Taylor has reported on diverse issues for three decades in the San Francisco and Monterey bay areas, including 10 years in the Silicon Valley business press covering venture capital and technology investments.

MELINDA NARRATIVE - I wrote the following letter to Dennis L. Taylor, who you see above.  The short exchange of letters is below. 
       January 19, 2020
    
Correction on one of your articles
Inbox

Melinda Pillsbury-Foster 
[Attachments] 9:19 AM (7 hours ago)

to dtaylor@montereyherald.com, bcc: me
Dear Mr. Taylor, 
Although it might seem a minor point as Virginia Adams has been dead for some years, I am sure as a journalist you will not mind this correction.  
In your article, titled  Picture-perfect life: Daughter of Ansel Adams , you reported that, "Her parents met, fell in love, and were married after a six-week courtship at the foot of a 617-foot waterfall known as Bridalveil.
“It was such a romantic story that it got written up in the Chicago Tribune,” remembers Anne, now 80, who lives today with her 79-year-old husband, Ken Helms, in a former bed-and-breakfast with a spectacular view of the emerald hillside that rolls away from Laureles Grade."

As Anne was not born until 03/08/1935, long after her parents were married it might have been a misremembered detail but children are generally aware of such details regarding their parents.  Virginia and Ansel were married in Virginia's residence behind the Best Studio on January 2, 1928.  They had known each other for nearly ten years.  Ansel practiced the piano on their upright, located in the Best Studio in Old Village.   My source on this was my father, Dr. Arthur F. Pillsbury, who  had known Virginia from their childhoods.  Both were raised in Yosemite; Father for six months of the year, returning to Berkeley and school there, Virginia to spend winters either in Yosemite or traveling with her parents until her mother's death in 1920.  Father, who was operating the  photo photo postcard printer , the first to be designed and patented, in the Pillsbury  studio, Old Village  from the time he was 14, reported to me Ansel took classes Grandfather gave to photography students there.  Since the area available was small, he had to be careful Ansel, who was clumsy, did not damage the printer.  Ansel worked for Grandfather regularly until the studio was burned in 1927.  Curiously, Ansel denied knowing Grandfather.   Letter - October 23, 1978  

(NOTE - The denials of knowing Grandfather include the limited mentions of him in the Adams Autobiography.  The letter immediately rebuts this previously encountered assertion.) 

The  story above ascribed to Virginia and Ansel was an accurate depiction of the marriage of Harry Best and his wife,  Sarah Anne Rippey .  Sarah Anne married Harry Cassie Best 28 Jul 1901.  The license was taken out in Mariposa and the ceremony performed at the foot of Bridal Veil Falls.  Prior to her marriage Sarah Anne Rippey was living with her mother, Harriet V Harrison Rippey, as a boarder with her mother in Precinct 22 Los Angeles city Ward 3, Los Angeles, California.  Sarah Anne was working in Yosemite for the summer.  I have a short bio of Harry Best on my site,  AC Pillsbury Foundation .

You updated this article in 2018 but this did not change and you did not provide documentation of the article Helms said appeared in the Chicago Tribune.  

Do you have any information on such an article?  I could not locate such an article.  During my search this article, which appeared in the Chicago Tribune on 11 Feb. 1996 citing a quote from Ansel Adams and the American Landscape by Jonathan Spaulding, published by University of California Press with the following  but did find this, "In his 20s Adams met John Muir and eventually joined the Sierra Club."   Article (BELOW) attached.  I have queried Spaulding on the source for this assertion via facebook. Waiting to hear from him.  As you likely know John Muir died in Los Angeles in December 1914, distraught over his failure to save the Hetch Hetchy Valley.  Adams was then 12, but the article, as you see, claims Muir was in his 20s at the time, which is impossible.  

Hope to hear from you.  
Cordially,  

Melinda 

ATTACHMENT PROVIDED

MELINDA NARRATIVE - .  There is no record of Ansel Adams ever meeting John Muir.  The claim is specious and unfounded. Muir died in December, 1914.  In 1914 Ansel Adams was 12 years old. Adams would not 'be in his 20s for 8 years.  Ansel Adams first went to Yosemite in 1916.  Adams, in his autobiography, states his first roll of film was developed by Arthur C. Pillsbury, who asked him about one negative taken while he, Adams, was falling off a rock while attempting to take a photo.  This is the only mention of Pillsbury in the book. 
      Another curious conflict is Ansel Adam's failure to note having worked for Arthur C. Pillsbury as a janitor and dog's body, also assisting with the burro used to transport the cameras used for Pillsbury's photo shoots from around 1918 into 1927.  
      STEPHEN HARRISON CORRESPONDENCE - The  Ansel Adams letter of October 23, 1978    responding to Mr. Rell Francis of Springville, Utah, regarding Arthur C. Pillsbury, documents an exchange of letters initited by Stephen Douglas Harrison with Dr. Arthur F. Pillsbury, with Rell Francis, and others.  LETTERS
         
       

​​​​

A Response was soon received, see below!

January 19, 2020

Dennis Taylor
3:26 PM (1 hour ago)

to me
Dear Ms. Pillsbury,
I am not the Dennis Taylor who wrote the article. My byline uses my middle initial "L." The Dennis Taylor you want is a freelance writer for the Carmel Pinecone. If you contact them I'm sure they can help you.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
MELINDA NARRATIVE - I visited The Carmel Pine Cone site and found no sign of any Dennis with or without an 'L'
That is not to say I ignored Dennis L. Taylor's email address, which is, as you see, dtaylor@montereyherald.com

Click the Carmel Pine Cone Header to view their Info Page

MELINDA NARRATIVE - Because I was away from my computer I sent a response from my cell phone.  

Melinda Pillsbury-Foster 
3:34 PM (1 hour ago)
to Dennis dtaylor@montereyherald.com
Thanks, for the record my name is Pillsbury-Foster, neither a married name.  Cordially,
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

MELINDA NARRATIVE - As soon as I could get to my computer I checked out the Issue Of The 'L', The Carmel Pine Cone, and if the article was archived under 'L's name at the Monterey Herald. 

 PUBLISHED: March 22, 2015 at 12:00 am | UPDATED: September 11, 2018 at 12:00 am  It was not available through the Posts on Dennis L. Taylor's bio and posts page, but it does come up from a permanent link from the Ansel Adams Gallery  http://anseladams.com/picture-perfect-life-daughter-of-ansel-adams/

Here is the link to Dennis L. Taylor's bio page, with a long list of articles he has produced in chronological order.  https://www.montereyherald.com/author/dennis-l-taylor/

MELINDA NARRATIVE CONTINUES - Having ascertained these interesting insights I again sent a short email to 'L' and continued to explore the links and look for variations in the two articles appearing under the same title, Picture-Perfect life:  Daughter of Ansel Adams.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Melinda Pillsbury-Foster 
3:49 PM (1 hour ago)
to Dennis dtaylor@montereyherald.com



LIFESTYLE

It appears  you did write the article.  Please explain yourself.  
  
By  DENNIS L. TAYLOR  | dtaylor@montereyherald.com | Monterey Herald
PUBLISHED: March 22, 2015 at 12:00 am | UPDATED: September 11, 2018 at 12:00 am

MELINDA NARRATIVE CONTINUES - On the Ansel Adams Galley site  the link to 'Dennis Taylor' leads to a page on the Ansel Adams Gallery site, not to the Monterey Herald, and the date is one day after that posted for the Monterey Herald site.  The link to the article links back to the same page on the Ansel Adams Gallery site.  This caused me to wonder if the articles were different.  Experience with the Bests caused this question to occur to me as they altered an article by James, who died in 1923, for use in a promotional brochures published in 1926.  The original article was published in Out West Magazine by George Whorton James, publication editor, in January 1914.   

Reproduced from the Ansel Adams Galley site
March 23, 2015/by  Dennis Taylor - Monterey Herald

Paul Miller Paul@carmelpinecone.com

2:44 PM (1 hour ago)
to me
Hi, Melinda. Since the story you linked to has a byline of Dennis L. Taylor, I think you emailed the right person the first time. He probably didn’t look at your email carefully enough.
In any event, since the article was in the Herald, it has nothing to do with me.


Paul Miller, publisher
The Carmel Pine Cone






  Picture-perfect life: Daughter of Ansel Adams
  March 23, 2015/by Dennis Taylor - Monterey Herald


SALINAS >> If a little girl grows up among towering rock formations, majestic waterfalls, ancient trees, and exotic little creatures, her story usually begins with “Once upon a time…”

Anne Adams Helms frolicked as a child in Yosemite National Park, where her mother ran a small artist’s studio that doubled as the family home. Her father was a photographer and an environmental activist who became a lifetime member and a director of the Sierra Club.

Anne Adams Helms, the daughter of photographer Ansel Adams, and her husband Ken Helms stand in front of her father’s photo titled the Tetons and the Snake River at her home in rural Salinas on Wednesday. David Royal – Monterey Herald

Her parents met, fell in love, and were married after a six-week courtship at the foot of a 617-foot waterfall known as Bridalveil.

“It was such a romantic story that it got written up in the Chicago Tribune,” remembers Anne, now 80, who lives today with her 79-year-old husband, Ken Helms, in a former bed-and-breakfast with a spectacular view of the emerald hillside that rolls away from Laureles Grade.

The walls of their home are decorated with stunning original photos that were taken by her father, Ansel Adams, one of the most celebrated photographers who ever lived.

“Sometimes we called him Pops or whatever, but usually my brother (Michael) and I just called him Ansel,” she says. “It wasn’t meant to be disrespectful — not at all. We loved him, but he really wasn’t a daddy-ish kind of person. There weren’t any family vacations to Disneyland or anything like that.”

He was away more often than he was home, Anne recalls, but life was always “noisier and more exciting” when he was around. In fact, one of her most-vivid childhood memories is of sitting at the top of the stairs, past her bedtime, listening to her father (who originally aspired to become a concert pianist) play the piano during parties.

“Even after he got very old, and his fingers were bent with arthritis, he still played beautifully,” she says.

Helms says her mom, the former Virginia Best, made a home where everybody felt welcome and was an ideal mother.

“And she was my really good friend,” she said. “Even when all of my teenaged friends were resisting their mothers, I had fun with mine.”

Her older brother, Michael, sometimes went with Ansel on photography trips.

Anne’s husband, Ken Helms, was a Midwestern boy, a native of Peoria, Illinois, where his father worked in the steel mill. Like most other young men in his neighborhood, that also was Ken’s expectation until a minister at the local Methodist church gave him a nudge that changed his path.

“He pulled me aside one day, and with that marvelous voice of his he said, ‘Ken, have you ever thought about going into the ministry?’”

The clergyman arranged a scholarship at the University of Chicago, where young Ken did his undergraduate work and entered the seminary, toiling during the summer months at the steel mill, where he cleaned asbestos out of the furnaces.

But Methodist ideology left him wondering about too many things.

Helms instead became a Unitarian preacher, taking his liberal leanings to a church in Muncie, Indiana, where he raised hackles by performing civil unions for gays, and by lobbying for integrated housing. That crusade got the attention of a wealthy parishioner who was heavily invested in real estate.

“He came to me one day and said, ‘Reverend Helms, I’m the one who created this church and I’m the one who has all the money. You’ve got to stop this integrated-housing stuff. That’s my living. If you don’t, I’ll leave.’ And I said, ‘Goodbye!’”

By the late 1960s the reverend, recently divorce, was ready for a change and began investigating new opportunities, one of which was at a Unitarian church in Redwood City.

“My first husband (Chuck Mayhew) had been killed in an accident, and the Unitarian community there had been very supportive of me,” Anne says. “After a few years of grieving, when I was dating again, I jokingly asked the ministerial search committee, ‘Why don’t you bring in a young, handsome, unmarried one?’”

“She got one out of three,” quips Ken, who married her in 1971.

Their union also brought together six children — Anne’s three daughters and Ken’s three sons.

Ken and Anne have 11 grandchildren and two great grandkids.

Anne ran the publishing business for many years, then returned to college, obtaining an anthropology degree from San Francisco State to go with her humanities degree from Stanford.

Ken dabbled in psychology as a minister, taught, helped study the cognitive aspects of the brain, and became a community activist.

They moved to Monterey in 1992, joining Anne’s brother, Dr. Michael Adams, on the Monterey Peninsula. Michael, a retired internal-medicine specialist and Air National Guard Brigadier General, lives in the Carmel Highlands home that their parents occupied from 1962 until the end of their lives. Ansel died in 1984, Virginia in 2000.

The Helms eventually left the Unitarian community and nowadays are self-described atheists who co-founded the Monterey Bay Humanist Association.

“I began with the belief that there is one god, at most, but I’m a rationalist and more of an anthropologist,” Ken explains. “I’m interested in what really happened with our species: How we evolved and why we make these artificial divisions between race, color and creed when we all come out of the same trees in Africa.

“When are we going to get around those differences and say to our brothers and sisters, ‘If we don’t get it together, we’re going to destroy our planet with all of this war and the rest of things.’”

Adds Anne, “The concept that there’s a loving god up there that’s going to change anything for me … that doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

Their philosophies and politics are mostly in sync, which, they say, is one secret to a relationship that has worked for 4 1/2 decades.

They walk together daily. Both are avid readers. They play favorite games nightly.
“We also laugh a lot,” says Anne, citing one more reason they expect to live happily ever after.
  
Picture-perfect life: Daughter of Ansel Adams
By DENNIS L. TAYLOR | dtaylor@montereyherald.com | Monterey Herald
PUBLISHED: March 22, 2015 at 12:00 am | UPDATED: September 11, 2018 at 12:00 am

SALINAS >> If a little girl grows up among towering rock formations, majestic waterfalls, ancient trees, and exotic little creatures, her story usually begins with “Once upon a time…”

Anne Adams Helms frolicked as a child in Yosemite National Park, where her mother ran a small artist’s studio that doubled as the family home. Her father was a photographer and an environmental activist who became a lifetime member and a director of the Sierra Club.

[The missing sentence is not part of the article but the caption under a picture of Anne with her husband, Ken Helms next to an Adams photo.]


Her parents met, fell in love, and were married after a six-week courtship at the foot of a 617-foot waterfall known as Bridalveil.

“It was such a romantic story that it got written up in the Chicago Tribune,” remembers Anne, now 80, who lives today with her 79-year-old husband, Ken Helms, in a former bed-and-breakfast with a spectacular view of the emerald hillside that rolls away from Laureles Grade.

The walls of their home are decorated with stunning original photos that were taken by her father, Ansel Adams, one of the most celebrated photographers who ever lived.

“Sometimes we called him Pops or whatever, but usually my brother (Michael) and I just called him Ansel,” she says. “It wasn’t meant to be disrespectful — not at all. We loved him, but he really wasn’t a daddy-ish kind of person. There weren’t any family vacations to Disneyland or anything like that.”

He was away more often than he was home, Anne recalls, but life was always “noisier and more exciting” when he was around. In fact, one of her most-vivid childhood memories is of sitting at the top of the stairs, past her bedtime, listening to her father (who originally aspired to become a concert pianist) play the piano during parties.

“Even after he got very old, and his fingers were bent with arthritis, he still played beautifully,” she says.

Helms says her mom, the former Virginia Best, made a home where everybody felt welcome and was an ideal mother.

“And she was my really good friend,” she said. “Even when all of my teenaged friends were resisting their mothers, I had fun with mine.”

Her older brother, Michael, sometimes went with Ansel on photography trips.

Anne’s husband, Ken Helms, was a Midwestern boy, a native of Peoria, Illinois, where his father worked in the steel mill. Like most other young men in his neighborhood, that also was Ken’s expectation until a minister at the local Methodist church gave him a nudge that changed his path.

“He pulled me aside one day, and with that marvelous voice of his he said, ‘Ken, have you ever thought about going into the ministry?’”

The clergyman arranged a scholarship at the University of Chicago, where young Ken did his undergraduate work and entered the seminary, toiling during the summer months at the steel mill, where he cleaned asbestos out of the furnaces.

But Methodist ideology left him wondering about too many things.

Helms instead became a Unitarian preacher, taking his liberal leanings to a church in Muncie, Indiana, where he raised hackles by performing civil unions for gays, and by lobbying for integrated housing. That crusade got the attention of a wealthy parishioner who was heavily invested in real estate.

“He came to me one day and said, ‘Reverend Helms, I’m the one who created this church and I’m the one who has all the money. You’ve got to stop this integrated-housing stuff. That’s my living. If you don’t, I’ll leave.’ And I said, ‘Goodbye!’”

By the late 1960s the reverend, recently divorce, was ready for a change and began investigating new opportunities, one of which was at a Unitarian church in Redwood City.

“My first husband (Chuck Mayhew) had been killed in an accident, and the Unitarian community there had been very supportive of me,” Anne says. “After a few years of grieving, when I was dating again, I jokingly asked the ministerial search committee, ‘Why don’t you bring in a young, handsome, unmarried one?’”

“She got one out of three,” quips Ken, who married her in 1971.

Their union also brought together six children — Anne’s three daughters and Ken’s three sons.

Ken and Anne have 11 grandchildren and two great grandkids.

Anne ran the publishing business for many years, then returned to college, obtaining an anthropology degree from San Francisco State to go with her humanities degree from Stanford.

Ken dabbled in psychology as a minister, taught, helped study the cognitive aspects of the brain, and became a community activist.

They moved to Monterey in 1992, joining Anne’s brother, Dr. Michael Adams, on the Monterey Peninsula. Michael, a retired internal-medicine specialist and Air National Guard Brigadier General, lives in the Carmel Highlands home that their parents occupied from 1962 until the end of their lives. Ansel died in 1984, Virginia in 2000.

The Helms eventually left the Unitarian community and nowadays are self-described atheists who co-founded the Monterey Bay Humanist Association.

“I began with the belief that there is one god, at most, but I’m a rationalist and more of an anthropologist,” Ken explains. “I’m interested in what really happened with our species: How we evolved and why we make these artificial divisions between race, color and creed when we all come out of the same trees in Africa.

“When are we going to get around those differences and say to our brothers and sisters, ‘If we don’t get it together, we’re going to destroy our planet with all of this war and the rest of things.’”

Adds Anne, “The concept that there’s a loving god up there that’s going to change anything for me … that doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

Their philosophies and politics are mostly in sync, which, they say, is one secret to a relationship that has worked for 4 1/2 decades.

They walk together daily. Both are avid readers. They play favorite games nightly.
“We also laugh a lot,” says Anne, citing one more reason they expect to live happily ever after.

Why would Anne Adams Helms transfer Sarah Anne Rippey's romance and marriage to Harry Best with her mother, Virginia's marriage to Ansel, her father?