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Joplin Tornado

THE KANSAS CITY STAR MAGAZINE

Photographer’s work helps Joplin residents reconstruct their memories

After the hospital but before the high school and Home Depot, the tornado swirled above a vacant limestone bungalow at 25th and Main streets.

Around 1970, Joplin photographer Murwin Mosler had converted the house into a photo studio by reconfiguring its walls to form a reception area, a darkroom, a break room with a kitchen table and a photo studio with a dressing room, mirror, and rolls of blue and gray background paper suspended from one wall.

From the 1930s to the ’80s, Joplin residents relied on Mosler to capture and immortalize their happiest moments. He photographed babies, weddings, graduating seniors and proud soldiers heading off to war. He developed the film and printed the photos. The process fascinated his daughter, Marcia Long. When she was little, she watched him shine light through negatives onto white photo paper. He dipped the paper in a tray of chemicals, and a photo appeared before her eyes.

“I thought it was magic,” she says.

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