In Their Own Words: Michael Knight

Everyone has a story to tell. Give them a chance and a little time and you’ll often get more than one.

Photographer David Mendelsohn always takes his time with subjects and therefore usually learns a thing or two in the process. Here’s what he discovered while photographing one local character who wanted to be pictured with a special friend. Meet Michael Knight, in his own words.

We live on a large piece of land east of Manchester. I love the privacy.  A lot of things have interested me over the years. I’m a master welder. I restore classic cars to showroom condition. I build and design custom, commercial BBQ units. I smoke meats. I’ve even bought an old Duck Boat and brought it back to life.

When I first found Jerry, he was in pretty bad shape but somehow he spoke to me. He sat in the corner for a while until one morning I decided to mend him. I repainted his head, rebuilt and re-engineered his body and bought his child-sized clothes at Goodwill. It was a lot of work but he’s back.

Jerry has now become a good friend. We talk. I’ve seen some bad times lately and I know it might sound a bit crazy, but he is always there to listen. It’s a kind of therapy. Think Jimmy Stewart and Harvey.*

I like to make people smile. I have big plans for the two of us. Am I a ventriloquist? Not yet. But then, the act could be just that. The worst ventriloquist in the world. A friend suggested we call ourselves Dumb and Dummy. His stage name is now Jerry Vegas and, if this takes off, we could even get endorsement deals. He’d like that.

*In Jimmy Stewart’s audio introduction to the 1990 home video release of “Harvey,” he reminisced about fans’ reactions to the film: “I’ve had letters that say one of the reasons I like the picture so much is that I have a friend like that who I sort of turn to when I need advice and when I need encouragement. I don’t know whether mine is a rabbit or not, but he’s a friend.”

Categories: Q&A