Don’s Got You Covered!
by Cate Murway
To accurately tell a story, a sentence needs a subject, a verb and a direct object. News photos require a like construction. A photojournalist, a visual reporter of facts, tells stories with his images, using his camera much the way an artist uses his brush, as a tool to capture his unique perspective of the world around him. As a servant of the citizens, it's the photojournalist's OBLIGATION to capture the entire sentence involved in EVERY event. There are no excuses. It's hit or missed!
News photographers, also called photojournalists, photograph newsworthy people, places, and sporting, political and community events for newspapers, journals, magazines or television. A photographer takes pictures of nouns (people, places and things). A photojournalist artistically captures "verbs", evoking a mood, feeling, or drama surrounding a particular subject, best of both, and locks it into the most powerful medium available--a single frozen image. The practice of illustrating news stories, relating the facts of a story through visuals with photographs, was made possible by printing and photography innovations that occurred between 1880 and 1897. George Eastman (1854 –1932) founded the Eastman Kodak Company, inventing roll film that helped bring photography to the mainstream. He introduced the Brownie camera in 1900 at a price of just $1.
Photography for the Eddington resident, Donald [Don] Aikens, Bensalem H.S./B.C. Technical School, class of ’61, who grew up with his late parents, plastics engineer Samual and bookkeeper/secretary Dorothy, and his 2 siblings, started as a hobby. He and his wife, originally from Brooklyn, NY, near Coney Island, 2nd Street resident, Rachel [DiMaio], class of BHS ’69, have 2 children, Mariana Bracetti Academy Charter School HR administrator, Walter Roland, NHS ‘89/BCCC/Temple U./Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY; and AARP Customer service rep, Lori Ann, NHS ’91/BCCC. They were perfect model subjects for his first Yashica camera. Rachel and Don met when the late Christine and Vincent DeMaio moved their family into the Borough in 1967.
"When I roped her, that was the star performance of my life".
Past president of the Exchange Club, Don was originally invited in the early 1980’s by Pete Cattani to join the all-volunteer, national service organization for men and women to “Exchange” ideas and information with like-minded individuals about how to better serve their community. The Bristol Exchange raised $25,000 for Spina Bifida causes, (Latin meaning "split spine"), the developmental birth defect involving the neural tube. Although not an actual member, Don remains very active in the Bristol Lions Club whose main goals are helping the blind, the deaf, and the needy. He is an associate member of the Rotary Club, whose objective is to encourage and foster the ideal of service. It was through these organizations that he involved himself in the community affairs. He loves the town, “There’s so much history here and the families are so close.”
A truly modest man who has made big impacts, Don is awarded with “thank you” Certificates of Appreciation from the Rescue Squad, Columbus 500 Foundation, Bristol Township Fire Department and others, as well as a “Reflections Of Our Love” commendation from “Al Alberts Showcase”, the one-hour Sunday afternoon talent show. They unobtrusively line his Beaver Street Seat Cover Shop walls.
"I never met a man I didn't like," is his tacit life credo of genuine love and respect for humanity and all people everywhere.
The Langhorne resident starts every day sharing a 6:45 a.m. breakfast with the Mayor, Honorable Joseph [Joe] A. Saxton at the Radcliffe Café, who stated “Don is a real gentleman, doesn’t even live in the town and never hesitates to take pictures of any event or people at his own expense. There’s no organization in the town that he hasn’t assisted.
Don beyond doubt represents the fabric of the community.”
Per online Radcliffe Café reviews, one dated May 15, 2007, “A Jewel in Bristol Borough, One of the best breakfast and lunch spots in Bucks County. Beats the diner route hands down.” “Great breakfast!” His Trevose resident brother, retired banker, Bob, joins them every Friday morning. The firstborn, his sister, Gloria, resides in Quakertown.
As a youth, Don worked after school at Rosario’s Upholstery Shop that moved from Eddington to Route 13. He started his own business on Route 13 in 1961 and then relocated to the current Beaver Street location, originally Finnell's Auto Repair & Body Inc., in 1963, doing a considerable amount of work with dealerships. Business is mainly word-of-mouth.
Don’s Seat Covers is one stop shopping for your automotive car interiors and precision fit quality custom seat covers and heavy-duty boat upholstery that can easily transform the look of your land or sea transportation. Owning a vehicle for many may be the fulfillment of a long cherished dream, but the sense of satisfaction will increase manifold if you are able to increase its life span and keep it in a brand new condition over the years. Faded seats or soiled condition of wear and tear are not only eyesores but they also result in depreciating its value. Your choice of seat covers can also be your signature on having an eye for the minutest detail. Don’s got you covered!
Photography remains among his most passionate of interests. Rachel and he attended “football shows” at the Sheraton Bucks County in Langhorne and met Meryl Reese, the voice of the Eagles, and the former general manager and president of the Philadelphia Eagles until 1997, Harry T. Gambel. Don shot some pictures Harry really liked and he was given the opportunity to take photos of the Eagles players at the games from 1991-2002.
Their involvement in St. Ann Church includes photography. They were always in Bristol. “St. Ann’s seemed so homey, so friendly, everyone seemed like family there”, Rachel affirmed. Don converted to Catholicism and they joined the parish together about 5 years ago, “I can sit there and there’s peace. It’s almost like a safe haven; feel the warmth of the people and the Church is beautiful”.
Christmas pictures with Santa, the Italian Festival, pasta dinner and the St. Ann carnival all presented "photo opps". Don would take pictures and show them to Dave, the editor of The Pilot at that time, when their little office was next to King George II Inn, currently Veronica’s Lavish Lathers. Don quickly gained popularity with his pictures and worked long, irregular hours on the job around the clock to serve the public. News never stops! He sleeps when he can. He eats when he’s done. He’s never really off the clock. It’s not a “glam” job. “He would be out every night”, Rachel conceded.
“We can't all be heroes because somebody has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by”.
His newsprint camera work documenting history, presented a "good eye", imagination and creativity, as well as a good technical understanding of photography.
Don understands Timeliness — the images have meaning in the context of a published chronological record of events, Objectivity — the situation implied by the images is a fair and accurate representation of the events they depict and Narrative — the images combine with other news elements, to inform and give insight to the viewer or reader. With his technical proficiency, the photographs produce and preserve images that paint a picture, tell a story, or record an event. Photojournalism works within the same ethical approaches to objectivity that is applied by other journalists. What to shoot, how to frame and how to edit are constant considerations. He must rapidly assess the lighting, shooting angles, lens selections, story concept, subject matter and a shopping list of other factors before he takes the first shot. Don’s got you covered!
“Aside from being a wonderful photographer and employee of the Pilot, Don is a great local humanitarian. It seems to me that all of Don’s ventures have one goal in mind: the improvement of Bristol Borough.” Tim Chicirda, Editor of The Bristol Pilot.
“Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip.”
Don respects the late William Penn Adair "Will" Rogers (1879 –1935), an American comedian, humorist, social commentator, vaudeville performer, and actor who has been named Oklahoma's favorite son for his wise cracks and folksy observations. Will Rogers had to invent himself-no one else would have known what to make of him! From indeterminate beginnings, Don, with his capacity for self-creation, constantly hunts to illuminate the truth in powerful images of what is happening in our community, every day of the year, anticipating what the readers expect to see. There is no need to "set up" reality. He has shaped himself into a photojournalist figure the likes of which the Borough hasn’t seen before. Everyone, from the little tykes to the senior citizens, the teens and the athletes, knows the photojournalist, the visible portion of the newspaper. He loves the Borough and the people who make it the wonderful place it is.
Don has also established himself as a premier event photographer, photo-documenting cherished family celebrations, from blowing out the candles to wedding vow moments.
Free time, when they can get it, is spent having fun with their family and their grandchildren, Amber, Brandon and Austin. Don exercises his appreciation of light and shadow, his eye for form and line, and his distinctive and creative, accurate and detail-oriented approach to photographs at the shore. Their sister-in-law, Janet has a home in Long Beach Island, one of the East Coast's premier vacation spots (locally referred to as LBI) and they locate “picture perfect” sunrise/sunset spots along the Atlantic coast.
“We are all here for a spell; get all the good laughs you can”
[Italized quotes are those of Will Rogers]
Photography by Don Aikens
weddings, parties, freelance Philadelphia Eagles & Bristol Pilot
Don's Seat Cover Co.
838 Beaver Street
Mon thru Friday 8:00 a.m.-noon / 1:00p.m. -4:00p.m.
Saturday hours by appt.
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