Unless otherwise noted all pictures and text are by and copyright 2004 Mike Strong

In early to mid 1973 about five or six months after leaving the Air Force (exit date: 8 Nov 1972). Uniform jacket with Staff Sargeant stripes (e5) beard and more hair.

Mike Strong

Photo CV

Kansas, Kansas City and the 1980's

Kansas, Kansas City and into the 80's

The American Bartending School

When I left the university after spring semester 1977 it was for the lure of what seemed good money from a national bartending school. Depending on the city it was either American or Professional Bartending School. The owner was from the south side of Chicago. This was a two-week program to provide bartending skills. Most of the target audience were un-employed. They kept losing people and I kept getting shifted from one school to another going from Kansas City, to Los Angles to Orange County, to San Diego to Kansas City and then to Detroit. In Detroit I decided it was time to quit.

In the meantime, in mid-August 1977, I had an experience which still shapes my thinking and my actions. My grandmother died and at the time she died - in Nebraska - she "appeared" to me. I would explain it here but it would repeat what I have elsewhere on this site. For early information see my pages related to my spiritual experiences and searches. I really need to re-write some of this and to add some concepts but you will have to put up with it for now.

The Muehlbach and the American

Pianist Peter Robinson during a pre-recording rehearsal at "le Carrousel" restaurant in the Raddison-Muhelbach Hotel, 1978

I worked at the Carrousel as bartender and also in the hotel's Lobby Lounge. At that time the Lobby Lounge had original Maxfield Parrish paintings on the walls supposedly painted by him when he came to Kansas City in the early years of the Muehlbach.

From the Muehlbach went to The American Restaurant as waiter and bartender, in Crown Center. While at The American I started working with Ray Cockrell in the photo lab.

The Rocky Horror Show at The Tivoli (original hole in the wall)

--- Story here later ---


Nichols Fountain, Plaza - across from my apartment

"Thin Lady and Gene" - This is backstage at the Folly in March 1980 with the crew from "Ain't Mis-Behavin' " I think the Folly was still undergoing re-construction at this time.

The parts don't have character names as such. The person I knew was the understudy for the Thin Lady role. The woman in the picture had the role. Gene was a worker on the production.

I met the lighting engineer when she was on the overlook over the west bottoms, when the cow statue was still in its old location. I had a pendulum at that time and she was interested in pendulums and other items.

Photo Lab and Photos

From Winkler to Cockrell

I eventually became a one-person commercial photo lab doing black & white. This started with Cockrell, which had been Winkler Color Lab. When Winkler died in a plane crash his tech head, Ray Cockrell decided to buy the lab and operate it under his hane. I had the black & white equipment and knowledge so I went in as a B&W division. Later we split up and I took a number of my clients separately, including Macy's and Telecom.


Mary Stillwell, one of the ad staff at Macy's in downtown Kansas City at 11th and Main. The Macy's building is long gone now. Until late 1983 the advertising department in Macy's Kansas City created full-color catalogs and serviced ads in a seven-state area. I made B&W internegs and then B&W prints from their color shoots. I would get a set of transparencies from 35mm to layout size and create a set of prints from them. They were a major part of my bread and butter for four years from early 1979 to mid-1983 when I was offered a job as a meeting coordinator for a chiropractic management firm.


Interneg on 4x5 film.

Example of LAB WORK:

(not my picture)

Internegative and B&W positive from an original color transparency in one of Macy's color spreads. I don't know the photog and usually didn't but I could usually tell if it was one from Zoom just from the lighting which translated easily from color to B&W and for the clean detail.

B&W from original in color.


United Telecom

In addition to Macy's one of my main clients at the time was United Telecom, later to morph into Sprint. Then their public relations office was in Overland Park just west of Metcalf at 107th. They also had a small forest of telephone polls next to the building used for training and for "rodeos."

Title Slides and Typesetting

Today no one thinks twice about making slides using Powerpoint. Bullets, animations, pictures and colors along with nice looking type. But before that we made "title slides" on 35mm transparency film for use in Carousel slide projectors. "In the day" those slides were made with mutiple exposures of colored gels over a lightbox over which were lain various masks of Litho Film with the lettering and any images. Way more laborious, but they did look good. But I can' imagine going back to the old method. The first purely digital slides created on computer were printed to film, not projected from a computer.

Practice Masters

In 1983 I received an offer to work for Practice Masters, a chiropractic management firm. It was to be a temporary job to fill in for their meeting coordinator who was leaving to go to law school at UMKC. Pam had been organizing the 20th anniversary with a goal of 1,000 previous and current clients at a meeting set for the end of September and the start of October.

Here is a photo stitched together from three 4x5 pictures I made at the anniversary meeting from a catwalk above the ceiling in the Hyatt-Regency.

Massage Therapy

In 1984 I found myself taking massage classes from Maggie Kelley in Topeka. It was a way of understanding energy flow and other spiritual experiences in my life at that time. I built my own table. It was a bit heavy but very sturdy. In June 1987 I took the opening for a massage therapist at The Kansas City Club in downtown Kansas City, MO at 13th and Baltimore. While there I added music, a quiet atmosphere and one hour massages (from the original 15-minute slap down).

This was in the athletic department. There were two massage rooms. The men's was in the men's locker room. The women's was two floors down in one of the hotel rooms next to the tailor shop. I left it in November 1989, headed back to the University to finally finish my four-year degree, in journalism.

A picture of Pete McCance who also worked in the athletic department as an attendant when I was there. Pete met everyone with a forward smile and friendly greeting. Hi, Pete.

Sports and Seniors

Somewhere in here I also began a lot of work shooting kids in sports programs. My heaviest day I remember as about 13 hours and some 730 plus kids doing individual shots. I used my medium format 645 Bronica ETRS for this one. Indeed, it is the main reason I purchased the ETRS. This is a medium format film with a 6cm x 4.5 cm image size.


House in Weston, Missouri, on 4x5 Ektachrome (transparency) from a 4x5 B&W interneg  


  Leaf, developed in D-23 which gave a great tonal scale and must be mixed from scratch ingredients (no package or bottle)


McLounge - McDonald's at College and Antioch with Claude "Fiddler" Willams November 1988.

I included this after I heard an NPR story about jazz at McDonald's as something new. So I looked up these old pictures from nearly 17 years before their story.