Authors Posts by Anna Solo

Anna Solo

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Open Doors Scott Lombardo

Open Doors is a series in which photographer Anna Solo visits the homes and workspaces of fascinating Seacoast people.

More than 20 years ago, at age 26, Portsmouth resident Scott Lombardo was diagnosed with cancer and given a 10-percent chance of surviving. He attributes his survival to practicing karate and to his close relationship with his instructor and mentor, Grand Master Ernie Temple. Now a sixth-degree black belt and very much aware of the hardships of recovery, Lombardo has applied his personal knowledge and experience to helping veterans who often struggle to readjust to the stresses of daily life.

The New Jersey native has now been a Seacoast resident for over 12 years and currently lives in the West End. While he has a full-time job as director of global e-commerce at an audio electronics company, he dedicates his free time to helping former and active military members transition from life on the battlefield to life back home. He accomplishes that with V-MAT (Veteran’s Martial Arts Training), a nonprofit program that provides martial arts instruction to former and active-duty military members, with a focus on veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries, or amputations.

“The philosophical aspect of traditional karate, truly knowing that every cell in your body has its own physical, mental, and spiritual capacity to overcome and accept loss, is the path to recovery for anyone that has suffered from a traumatic experience,” Lombardo says.

Open Doors Scott Lombardo

With many of his students suffering from serious injuries, Lombardo has redesigned the Isshinryu style of karate to suit the needs of amputee and wheelchair-bound students. The lessons he provides, with assistance from fellow instructors, pose both physical and mental challenges that aid in recovery.

Open Doors Scott Lombardo

Walking into Lombardo’s light-filled dojo, also in the West End, a sign on the door asks guests to “Please Remove Shoes & Ego Before Entering.” The cornerstone of any martial art is respect, says Lombardo. In addition to bowing when entering and leaving the dojo, anyone occupying the space is expected to leave assumptions of superiority outside.

Open Doors Scott Lombardo

While clean and minimal, the 1,015-square-foot space tells the story of Lombardo’s journey with karate through the years. At the front of the room, between two windows, is a portrait of Grand Master Temple. When entering the dojo, Lombardo bows to him; when practicing, he fixes his gaze on the portrait. On one wall, T-shirts, hoodies, and pants with the V-MAT logo hang among photos of Lombardo with friends and fellow karate students. At the other end of the room, in a small and barely noticeable corner, are three figurines Lombardo brought back from his first trip to Japan, symbolizing the principle of “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.”

In Lombardo’s home office, every detail is devoted to his love and appreciation of martial arts. Hanging on the wall above his work station is a painting created by an amputee student from New Jersey, a self-portrait of the artist from a time when he felt he was blind to his abilities in martial arts.

Open Doors Scott Lombardo

While some of the room’s adornments demonstrate Lombardo’s successes, such as the certificate he received when completing his black belt, the majority are keepsakes from his time studying with his mentor. When Temple lost his own battle with cancer in 2015, Lombardo inherited his uniform and his bo (a long staff weapon used in martial arts).

Open Doors Scott Lombardo

Several tattoos on his arms serve as homages to the art; on his right arm are the numbers 90-49, written in Temple’s handwriting, which indicate Lombardo was Temple’s 49th student in 1990. The number is laid over the “Temple Family Dojo” Hanko, which is a Japanese signature stamp. On his left arm is “Migami,” the symbol for Isshinryu karate: Migami’s body position represents “Fierce in Battle” (raised fist) and “Gentle in Life” (open palm). Hovering over her is “Tatsuo,” or Dragon Boy, the founder of Isshinryu.

Open Doors Scott Lombardo

While Lombardo has never personally served in the military, he is the grandson and son of World War I and World War II veterans, respectively. His strong commitment to his country and those who have served it is apparent in his work. Instead of drawing attention to himself and his accomplishments, he chooses to focus on safely and effectively educating his students on the techniques, culture, and philosophy of the art that saved him.

 

 

Raymond Goulet
Raymond Goulet sits in his apartment near downtown Portsmouth. photo by Anna Solo

Editor’s note: Open Doors is a series in which photographer Anna Solo visits the homes and workspaces of fascinating Seacoast people.

Portsmouth resident Raymond Goulet was the fastest foxhole digger in his company, which landed in the first wave on Omaha Beach in Normandy in 1944. In the uneven waters of the English Channel, climbing down rope ladders from large ships to flat-bottomed landing craft, he witnessed soldiers crushed between ships, killed before even reaching the beach. “It was a terrible thing to see,” he says before changing the subject.

Now 94, Goulet is still hesitant to open up about the perilous situations he faced during the D-Day invasion and throughout World War II. “I was absolutely terrified,” he says. “Anyone who denies having been scared is lying.”

Raymond Goulet

More than 70 years after the war, Goulet prefers to focus on the positive: He is healthy, doesn’t look or feel his age, maintains strong relationships with his friends and daughter, and stays active every day, no matter the season.

A native of Lawrence, Mass., Goulet has now lived in Portsmouth for 30 years. In his apartment near downtown, his strong love for New England and the sea is on full display. Images of lighthouses cover much of his small, warmly lit, and impeccably organized one-bedroom apartment. Mugs with lighthouses engraved in the ceramic line shelves, blankets with a nautical theme cover armchairs, lamps take the form of anchors and lighthouses, wooden cutouts of boats and pictures of ocean scenes adorn the walls.

Raymond Goulet

Any leftover wall space is dedicated to photos of family members and mementos of his time in the Army, including newspaper cutouts, medals, and illustrations of “Monarch of Bermuda,” the ship that brought him and his unit to England. On another wall are nearly 200 Christmas cards sent to Goulet by friends, family members, and volunteers from the Pease Greeters. The juxtaposition of wartime memories with the Christmas cards and the simple-yet-colorful New England theme is striking.

Raymond Goulet

In Goulet’s bedroom, a neatly made bed with a quilt crafted for him as a gift by The Pease Greeters sits against the wall. One corner is dedicated to his faith. Though he identifies as a Catholic, he has decided not to attend church and instead practice on his own terms. He says that he prays for his friends and family members daily.

Goulet strongly believes in “divine intervention.” He and his two brothers all fought in the war. When he boarded the ship to Normandy and unexpectedly encountered his brother Roland at a church service, he began to believe things were meant to be.

Raymond Goulet

As soon as the ship arrived, “the Germans began shelling immediately,” he says. The brothers were separated until after the end of the war. They remained extremely close until Roland’s death a couple of years ago, an event that left Goulet heartbroken.

“I really, really miss talking to him,” he says, showing a hint of emotion before changing the subject once more.

Raymond Goulet

Robert Wheeler
Local author and Hemingway scholar Robert Wheeler in his home studio in New Castle. photo by Anna Solo

Editor’s note: Open Doors is a new series in which photographer Anna Solo visits the homes and workspaces of fascinating Seacoast people.

“The perfect cocktail” is a phrase local author Robert Wheeler applies not only to his favorite libation — a simple vodka tonic with fresh lemon juice. He strives for a perfect blend in every aspect of his life, including his writing, his workspace, his home, and his relationships.

Wheeler is almost finished with his third book, and he’s already started a fourth. He does his writing in his home studio in New Castle, in a house offering water views from almost every window. It’s a classy, beachy, quirky space that Wheeler and his wife decorated to reflect their mutual appreciation for comfort, good light, and, notably, Paris. He describes his studio as a sacred space where he can concentrate on his craft.

“The (writing) process is to be appreciated and celebrated as much as the final product,” he says.

Wheeler’s primary area of interest is Ernest Hemingway’s life, travels, and writing process. Wheeler’s fascination with Hemingway began after he read the late author’s memoir, “A Moveable Feast.” He says he noticed a sense of loss and longing between each line of Hemingway’s prose, and he read the book slowly and carefully, taking notes and highlighting sections.

One winter, alone in Paris, Wheeler felt the city reveal itself, he says. The statues, the river, the art, the cafés, and the architecture all seemed to fill in the truth about Hemingway’s time there as a young husband and writer. The experience resulted in Wheeler’s first book, “Hemingway’s Paris,” a collection of stories and photographs that portray Hemingway’s time as an expatriate.

“I simply listened and wrote and held up my camera and, well, my book was born,” Wheeler says.

A full-time writer, Wheeler has developed a daily structure in which he writes early in the morning or in the afternoon, goes to the gym most days, and practices and teaches Jiu Jitsu several times a week. His small studio is filled with stacks of books, portraits of Hemingway and various visionaries, a massive map of the world, photographs and paintings of Paris, and several wooden signs with messages like “I’d rather be in Paris!” and “Simplify.” Through the small window he faces when working at his computer, an American flag is visible in the distance. The flag is symbolic for Wheeler as he works on his latest book, which is focused on Boston’s Freedom Trail.

Sitting in his studio recently, Wheeler plays a few YouTube videos of Matt Cardle, a British singer and former contestant on the reality TV show “The X Factor.” He observes the reaction Cardle’s voice gets from the audience, the sparkle in the judges’ eyes. That’s the look he wants people to have on their faces when they read his prose. “That’s how I get there. That’s how I get jacked,” he says.

Though all of his books combine text with photography, Wheeler identifies as a writer first. “I like to think that when I compose a sentence and it works beautifully, or when I take a photograph and it evokes real emotion, I hear music. I actually hear the faint sound of a symphony,” he says. Asked whether he is a writer or a photographer, Wheeler replies, “I think I’m a musician.”

Both Wheeler’s writing and his workspace reveal a curated blend of words and visuals, creating an atmosphere that feels just right — like the perfect cocktail. The result, to borrow a word Wheeler might use, is “stunning.”