Skip to main content
Skip to navigation

This site is archival. Please visit the current MIZZOU magazine site for up-to-date content.

Mizzou Mail

Cliff Edom: Father of photojournalism

Thank you for making it very clear that Cliff Edom would “shutter” at the thought of doctoring a photograph! [MIZZOU Mail, Summer 2009] Cliff Edom was my father, and he always taught us to show “truth with a camera.”

When he and my mother, Vi, started the Missouri Photo Workshop in 1949 in Columbia, he said photographs should not be manipulated in any way. I founded the Truth with a Camera Workshop in 1993 in Manassas, Va., and directed it for 14 years. 

I continue involvement as honorary director. Stephen Katz and Chris Tyree, prize-winning photographers from The Virginian-Pilot newspaper in Norfolk, Va., and former staff members of our workshop, now continue the workshops from Norfolk. They wrapped up their first workshop May 31 at the University of Guadalajara in Mexico. Students from the United States, Mexico and Finland documented stories about the work of nonprofit organizations dealing with homelessness, cancer and blind children. 

Vme Edom Smith, BA ’51
Chesapeake, Va.

Fiddler in the family

I enjoyed your article on the fiddlers of Missouri. My great-grandfather, Gus Ficke, grew up just south of St. Louis. As the story was told to me, Ficke got into a bar fight and killed a man in the 1880s. Friends helped him escape to Alaska where he mined for gold, and they kept him informed as to what charges were being pressed. When Ficke learned the verdict was self-defense, he came home with a fiddle that he had won in a poker game. 

After returning to Missouri, he taught himself how to fiddle and played for dances around Gerald, Mo. Word has it that he was very good and that he played so much he wore finger indentations into the wood. His initials and the year 1880 are carved into the back of the fiddle.

John Aloysius Klein, BS Ed ’48, M Ed ’52, a music major at the University of Missouri, knew of someone who could restore the fiddle in the 1940s. John went on to become the drummer on the Lawrence Welk Show [more: MU Digital Library.The Missouri Alumnus, Summer 1999, Page 33].

A hundred years later, in the 1980s, my great-uncle, Harold Ficke (the poker player’s son), found the fiddle with some old family toys and rescued it! I told him I was interested in having it after he died if no one else wanted it. He gave it to me on the spot.  

Sharon Stidham Smith, BA ’71, M Ed ’74
Round Rock, Texas