One of the most potent summertime images is that of the picnic, and this looks to have been a memorable one!  Scanned from a glass plate negative, this photo features (top and center) longtime Benicia mayor William Crooks (1861-1950) who served in this positon from 1898 until 1918 and again from 1924 until 1940.   Rising to become the president of The Peoples Bank, Crooks moved through a number of other positions on his way up the career ladder: grocery store clerk and then railway station agent, telegraph operator, and dispatcher for, variously, the Southern Pacific Company, Western Union Telegraph, and Northwestern Pacific Railroad in a number of California locations. His many businesses and real estate holdings included the Smelter Land Company and the Majestic Theatre, which he built in 1920. The other gentlemen have not been identified, nor do we know the exact picnic date or location–the glass plate was part of the O’Grady collection and came without any pertinent information—but there is still plenty of intelligence to gather by studying the photograph. I count four bottles of wine or beer with perhaps a flask of whisky, as well parked in the lower right-hand corner of the tablecloth spread on top of the blanket, along with all sorts of mealtime clobber: roast chicken, celery stalks thrust into a mug, a loaf of bread still half-wrapped in paper, a cruet of dressing, and a platter of other edibles which includes a chunk of watermelon. The languorous chap on the left, his cap tossed into the picnic basket, seems to be paring a piece of fruit, his expansive abdomen serving as a handy support for the task. The discarded chicken bones on the plate signal that he is done with fowl for the moment.  Meanwhile, the mustachioed gent to the right has unbuttoned his vest and is smoking a cigar; his abandoned jacket lies underneath the tree. Mayor Crooks seems to be struggling to look dignified, but his awkward pose suggests that it is only with some great reluctance he has brought himself upright, leaves still clinging to his jacket sleeve, to accommodate the unseen photographer, John Molfino.  As I channel the atmosphere engendered by this indolent group, I am inspired to commit myself wholeheartedly to the magic of this summertime delight. May you be inspired likewise!