Talker gets some Little League love from the Brighton-Pittsford Post

Talker gets some Little League love from the Brighton-Pittsford Post

Brighton-Pittsford Post, August 2004 from Iconic America at the Brighton Little League Parade

From the beginning, our courtship with the Brighton-Pittsford Post has been a happy one. Last century, we — like almost all Brightonians — appeared in the Post in various guises. And in the 21st the romance still has the freshness of a first kiss.

In a gesture of its affection, this week BPP reprinted a shortened version of Iconic America at the Brighton Little League Parade.

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Brighton-Pittsford Post, week June 9th – June 16th, 2016

Admittedly self-indulgent, the following history or genealogy does have a purpose. Travels in the world of amateur journalism — or as practiced at Talker, “imaginative journalism” — can be exquisite fun.

But, as ever, Talker needs you need to get involved. So, if you at all enjoy this adventurare absurdum, join us and create your own.

The first installment had a serpentine legacy. In July, 2000 I wrote about how the heroics of the black troopers who fought in Cuba in 1898 should be remembered.  At that time, Lt. Colonel Theodore Roosevelt had been recommended for a Medal of Honor for leading the Rough Riders up the slopes of San Juan Hill.

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Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, July 28, 2000 See see Mr. Crane’s Vivid Story

Soon after, then living in Rhode Island, I peddled various incarnations of the story all over the East Coast: “Overdue Honor for ‘Buffalo Soldiers’” Sunday Perspective,  New London Day, February 4, 2001; “Thanks to black soldiers, Rough Riders rode smoother” As You Were Saying Column, Boston Herald, February 3, 2001; “A medal for Teddy; others deserving too” Sunday Viewpoint, Buffalo News, August 20, 2000.

At the time, the Boston Herald rewarded contributors with five copies; while I cashed a $50 check from the Buffalo News.

Later, back in Rochester, I politely suggested the Democrat and Chronicle write its own story, which Matt Leingang did. Regrettably, the paper said the Spanish-American War took place in 1892 and — alas — the thesis was not finished “next May” as expected.

Realizing I should never have strayed from my sweetheart, I politely suggested the the BPP write its own story.

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Democrat and Chronicle 8/2/2000

I met Matt Ried at Highland Park where I was wearing Linda Howland’s grandfather’s Spanish-American War uniform. We talked about the war and Matt took the picture.

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August, 2000 Brighton-Pittsford Post

Leslie and daughter Audrey. The pacifist mother gives thumbs down to the phallo-military-industrial-complex. From Audrey’s excellent adventure in Rochester

Upon rereading the article, I am still impressed at how deftly Matt took my words and made a synopsis of the thesis worthy of an abstract.  I remember — surprised — that Matt said it would take him about 45 minutes to write the article. That’s a pro for you.

As my email address was included in Matt’s story, a Brighton woman contacted me to arrange a date with her daughter that took place at the old Greenstreet’s over the Holiday’s. That women is now happily married with two children. In New Jersey.

Matt and I would join up for the next installment. I politely suggested he write a story on The Rockpile in Brighton for the Post. Matt joined Dean and me in The Rockpile where we recreated adventures from boyhood. Dean wondered why Matt considered the story newsworthy. I suspect Matt believed in land conservation and wanted to support The Rockpile against suburban encroachment.

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An amiable and pleasant man, Matt has multiple sclerosis and uses a cane. But uncomplainingly pushed his way through the brush.  And in another 45 minute professional job, Matt displayed his writerly skill.

Interesting to learn Matt now lives in Colorado, owning a photography business and an Emergency Response Team supervisor/dispatcher

UPDATE: Matt reports back, “I remember those articles fondly. They were a lot of fun to write.”

More on the Rockpile would appear in “Memories of the Crab Apple Battles”, Brighton-Pittsford Post, Rush Henrietta Post, Webster Post, May 7, 2009 

The boulders — 30 or 40 of them — are still there in the wetland a few paces behind Roby Drive. Brighton Town Historian Mary Jo Lamphear speculates that developers, when digging basements and building foundations, uncovered the boulders, left behind by receding glaciers, and hauled them just out of sight of the road. If you were a boy who grew up in Brighton in the 1970s, the site was known simply as “The Rockpile.”

The boulders — 30 or 40 of them — are still there in the wetland a few paces behind Roby Drive. Brighton Town Historian Mary Jo Lamphear speculates that developers, when digging basements and building foundations, uncovered the boulders, left behind by receding glaciers, and hauled them just out of sight of the road. If you were a boy who grew up in Brighton in the 1970s, the site was known simply as “The Rockpile.”

One curious feature of the Rockpile is that the arrangement of the boulders eerily resembles parts of the Gettysburg battlefield. Stand among them and you will feel like you are at Little Round Top made famous by Mathew B. Brady’s haunting photographs. So it was, or it seemed, only natural that the Rockpile became the staging ground for the great crabapple wars of the 1970s.

Scores of boys would gather on fall Saturdays, breaking into two armies. Lord of the Flies-like, we began pelting each other with handfuls of red and yellow crab apples. The only rule I remember was that slingshots were outlawed. One tribe would defend the Pile, while the other would attempt complicated flanking maneuvers. The creek often had to be crossed, usually on precariously placed logs that too often failed as bridges. Many returned home soaking wet; all returned home hopelessly muddy.

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Audrey tending to a Union soldier wounded at Gettysburg on the Rockpile’s Little Round Top. From Visiting a Talker haunt: the Brickyard Trail with Leslie Frances and Audrey

Sometimes our war gaming was less primitive but actually more destructive. We would build model battleships and aircraft carriers with firecrackers taped inside the hull. Gasoline was sprinkled on the decks, and the ships were set adrift in the creek. Boys lined the banks, lighting matches and throwing them at the flotilla, trying to ignite the gasoline. When ignited, the fire would eventually reach the firecrackers. One by one the carriers and battleships burned, exploded and sank. We proudly imagined we were World War II American fliers annihilating a doomed Japanese fleet.

I don’t know when the last crabapple war was — probably at least 20 years ago. Actually, the wetland area between Roby, Elmwood and Westfall is barely used for anything now. Back in the ’70s and early ’80s, older teenagers snuck into the Rockpile late at night to catch fireflies, smoke pot and drink beer. Bonfires would be lit. People tried to find the hermit who supposedly lived in a tree.

Today, the trails are overgrown. There is hardly any trash, a few old Genny cans — a brand that isn’t even made anymore. You are much more likely to see a deer than a person.

We know the sociological descriptions of the changing nature of childhood and adolescence. Young Americans are sedentary and would rather watch video games inside. Their lives are overstructured and oversupervised; spontaneity and free play are vanishing.

My generation was raised before the most dramatic shift in gender roles. Back then, it still seemed to be expected that male development required militaristic rites of passage.

In the end, the passing of the crabapple wars and the sinking of model ships is not a tragedy. Yes, it would be better if kids spent more time outside and organized their own activities. Ultimately, however, during the crabapple battles of the 1970s, on some level we imagined that we were training to be real soldiers who might fight a real war. After all, we were taught that we still faced a mortal enemy in the Soviet Union.

Happily, that war never came. Perhaps it’s right that the deer have the Rockpile to themselves.

David Kramer, of Brighton, has taught writing and literature at Monroe Community College, St. John Fisher College and Rochester Institute of Technology.

Both “Memories” would be later incorporated into The ground breaking of the Brickyard Trail in Brighton and “Memories of the Crab Apple battles”

In August 2004 After Hurricane Frances fortuitously uncovered the archives of the International Wiffle Ball League, I politely suggested the Post write a story.

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Brighton-Pittssford Post, August 2004 from Iconic America at the Brighton Little League Parade

Old footage was later discovered of the IWBL and a new game was played. (Above) David Kramer batting,Billy Swift pitching and Shawn Monfredo fielding. Not pictured is catcher David Cohen. 1976 or 1977; (below) Recreating game 2 of the 1976 International Wiffle Ball League world series. (left) Phil Ghyzel at bat; (right) David Kramer at bat. On defense, Julia Ghyzel [Photos: Rebecca Ghyzel, 12/26/18] See Filmic evidence shows I “froze”  at the 1976 Brighton Little League All Star game and other Brighton memories and One of Brighton High School’s Fab Five is back in town

I recall Sarah Daniels — an attractive and vivacious young journalist – coming over to hear the story and take artifacts to be photographed.  With a compelling lead, Sarah did a stellar job.  Later, when I was the D & C’s Make City Schools Better blogger, I learned that Sarah was the girlfriend — sorry, partner as is the preferred term — of the D & C‘s Digital Opinion Editor Kevin Frisch whose patience with me was unbounded.

In January 2015, bloggers last year received this email:

This is the last week for Digital Opinion Editor Kevin Frisch, who accepted a great position with a news organization in on Pennsylvania. Please join me in thanks for all his hard work to advance the cause! (Thanks again, Kevin, 6/10/16)

Sarah and Kevin now live in Clearville, Pennsylvania. Celebrating the 120th Otis Day and finding the site of the General’s farmhouse in Gates

Then the granddaddy of them all — the magisterial Otis the First and Otis the Second: “Remembering a hometown hero,” Spotlight Local History, Gates-Chili Post, June 7, 2012, GUEST ESSAY Rochester’s famed but forgotten figure , Brighton-Pittsford Post June 14, 2012, “Historian reflects on Gen. Otis’s Legacy,” Spotlight Local History, Gates-Chili Post, June 14, 2012, YOUR VIEWS A good soldier in a dubious war , Brighton-Pittsford Post, June 21, 2012

Mt. Hope Cemetery, 6/5/20. David Kramer at the grave site of Major General Elwell Stephen Otis (March 25, 1838 – October 21, 1909), wearing the colors of American soldiers in the Spanish-American and Filipino Wars, tan and light blue. “This was Otis’ first burial site – he was originally buried on the highest point of Mount Hope before being reinterred at Arlington National Cemetery on October 11th 1929. His bronze plaque was also removed from the Mount Hope monument, though it was not used on his monument there and is now lost. His original monument still stands and his epitaph reads: Not the last stroke but every stroke brings victory (findagrave.com). On the volumes at the base of the gravestone, see Postscript. [Photo: Lynda Howland] From Celebrating the 120th Otis Day and finding the site of the General’s farmhouse in Gates

Later I would ask one of the Post‘s editors, David L. Wheeler, if he had every published a two part series. No, never before. I also asked David if Otis 1 and Otis 2 had received any reader responses. No, none. In life, we must take the wheat with the chaff.

The series includes a bizarre coincidence. The Monday after part 1 came out in the Gates Post, I was randomly assigned a substitute teaching job at the General Elwell S. Otis School # 30. When I arrived, someone had thumbtacked the article on the office bulletin board. The thumbtacked article made me feel better about my status as lowly substitute.

There was also the story of a Canadian flag and the trip Dean and I took to the World Baseball Classic in Toronto that became “An early spring renewal of the spirit” Guest Essay, Brighton-Pittsford Post, March 18, 2009.  Writing the story with Dean’s help made the trip that much more memorable.

On Saturday, March 7, spring came early for about 42,000 North Americans. True, the closed, retractable roof of the Rogers Centre in Toronto shielded us from the grayish wintry drizzle outside. Nor was the green grass even grass – instead the immortal synthetic kind that can never really smell like summer.

Yet there we were, in the first week of March, at a real baseball game, not a desultory, half-empty Cactus League exhibition, but a packed house ready to witness Goliath (Team USA) battle David (Team Canada) in the first game of the World Baseball Class, Pool C.

My friend Dean and I probably represented the entire Brighton contingent. We did see several ’Cuse and Buffalo Bills jerseys, a few University of New Hampshire T-shirts, and more than a fair share of Red Sox caps. This was our first taste of international baseball competition; we didn’t quite know what to expect or exactly how to behave.

The stadium was dotted with flags, mostly Canadian but still a sizable number of Stars and Stripes. The larger ones were draped on overhangs, prime targets for ESPN cameras.

Medium-sized ones like mine made a decent show; however, the pointed end of the pole, when grabbed in the rush to celebrate, proved to be downright dangerous. The prudent neatly waved smallish versions easily placed in a shirt pocket during the lulls that are baseball.

If this had been European football, I imagine the flags would be territorial markers, symbols capable of triggering the mad dogs of hooliganism. But this is baseball, the triumph of mature love over infatuated adolescent willfulness.

Yes, the Canadians flags unfurled in a red and white cascade when Russell Martin and Joey Votto hit their home runs, and Philippe Aumont, the French Canadian kid, left three Yanks stranded.

And, we statesiders bounced back when Captain Jeter deftly fielded his position and Kevin Youkils, Adam Dunn and Brian McCann went yard. In the end, Goliath won, 6-5.

Yet, not for a moment, was there a hint of enmity between the competing flag wavers. I chatted amiably with my red-and-white bedecked neighbors about the early days of SkyDome, when lovers neglected to close the shades in the hotel rooms overlooking center field.

Two Japanese-Canadian girls asked to twirl the red-white-and-blue when Jeter (their favorite) came to bat. Given that, technically, Rogers Centre was considered a neutral site, at one point the PA system even blared, “Born in the USA.”

The joyousness of the occasion had much to do with that inkling, however artificial, of the coming fields of dreams. On another level, it had much to do with Canadians themselves. As I looked upon the spirited Rogers Centre crowd, I sensed a true melting pot, a conglomeration of almost every conceivable ethnic group, whose collective national pride seemed derived from tolerance and decency.

As I was leaving, I noticed some fans who had bought the same medium-size flags as mine, theirs Canadian. I offered to trade pennants. We readily agreed, shook hands, and I hope, went home feeling that much better.

David Kramer, who lives in Brighton, has taught writing and American literature at Monroe Community College, St. John Fisher College and the Rochester Institute of Technology.

And the story appeared in our resurrected fungo game at Reifsteck Field: “An early-spring renewal of the spirit” over 10,000 fungos later

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The 10,001st fungo! Dean Tucker in his Yale shirt. He spent thousands of fungos sending his daughter to New Haven, but did get the nice t-shirt. Xerox cap (from where he earned those fungos). Reifsteck Field, Brighton, Easter, 2016 From An early-spring renewal of the spirit” over 10,000 fungos later

There was also “A notable woman, on the wrong side of history” Guest Essay, Daily Messenger, Brighton-Pittsford Post, Penfield Post, Webster Post, April 1, 2009 — the story of the daughter of Joseph Marsh, the Millerite leader who marched up Cobb’s Hill.

Mt. Hope Cemetery.Jane Parker Marsh (1836 – 1913) from Revisiting Mt. Hope Cemetery: From Jack the Ripper to the grandfather of the internet

With the aid of Eric Kemperman’s photography and Dr. Richard Henshaw’s erudition, the article became On the 22nd of October, 1844 on top of Cobb’s Hill

And one of my favorites is, “Even the umpires are having fun” Guest Essay, Brighton-Pittsford Post, Gates Chili Post, April 22, 2009 as the article was incorporated into an homage to the old African-American umpires: 250 years of calling you out

There was “Wired generation may be missing something.” Guest Essay, Messenger Post Newspapers, Brighton-Pittsford Post, Penfield Post, Webster Post, Henrietta Post, Irondequoit Post,Gates-Chili-Post  February 23, 2012. A different version appeared as Then and Now Brown Alumni Magazine March/April, 2012.

And the piece became On the “Bridge Generation:” born 1960 – 1980 There I make the claim to have been the first to coin the new term for my generation.

“Jetpants” should captivate locals  was based on a New York Times Book Review and a conversation with Rochester native Bill Peters and published in the Messenger Post Newspapers, Daily Messenger, Brighton Pittsford-Post, Henrietta Post, Fairport, Webster Post, February, 1 – 8, 2013

The article was incorporated into Bill Peters, author of Maverick Jetpants In The City Of Quality, reflects on Rochester and writing

William Peters reading from Maverick Jetpants In The City Of Quality at Writers and Books, 2013 [Photo provided] From Bill Peters, author of Maverick Jetpants In The City Of Quality, reflects on Rochester and writing

The article later appeared in The Wedge.

In 2016, my reader submitted photo was accepted for publication, see “Our armour all as strong, our cause the best”; The Golden Age of English history in full splendor at Nazareth’s Wilmot Library

PLEASE COMMENTS IN THE COMMENT SECTION BELOW AT END

POSTSCRIPT

Recently, my friend Joseph Volpe, Esq. has taken to calling me “Selah Tarrant” based on an article I wrote for the Henry James Review, Masculine Rivalry in The Bostonians: Henry James and the Rhetoric of “Newspaper Making”

In James’s novel, Selah was a self promoting and — apparently — sham mesmerist.

Joe cites as evidence a passage from “The Art of Fiction”  in which James is merciless towards figures like Selah and Talker:

One sketches one’s age but imperfectly if one doesn’t touch on the particular matter: the invasion, the impudence and shamelessness of the newspaperman and the interviewer; the devouring publicity of life, the extinction of all sense between public and private. It is the highest expression of the note of “familiarity.” The sinking of manners, in so many ways, which the democratization of the world brings with it.

Joe goes further by citing my own analysis of Selah:

But James goes further. Tarrant’s publicity hounding is coupled with an immense enthusiasm for the newspapers which to him (sounding Dana-like) are “national nerve centers” (497). “[H]e had one all-absorbing solicitude—the desire to get paragraphs put into the newspaper” (495). Tarrant spends much of his time loitering in newspaper offices; to him “the penetralia of the daily press were, however, still more fascinating.” He yearns to be at the very epicenter. He has great “zest of forcing an entrance,” and he is “persistent and penetrating” (497). When the editors turn their backs to him, he badgers the young newsboys. Pejorative images of male exposure, physical intrusion, desire for interpenetration, and possible pedophilia cast Tarrant in a homophobic light.

The rhetoric intensifies to the point of hysteria if not obscenity. We are told: “[Tarrant] was always trying to find out what was ‘going in’; he should have liked to go in himself, bodily, and failing in this, he hoped to get advertisements inserted gratis. The wish of his soul was to be interviewed” (497). In one passage there are traces of exhibitionism, voyeurism, and anal sex—promotion, peeping, and penetration.

I wholeheartedly deny that the wish of soul Talker’s is to be interviewed or harbor some perverse desire to get paragraphs put into the newspaper or that I yearn to be at the very epicenter.

Nonetheless, Joe, today I give you more fodder to prove your hypothesis that Talker is the reincarnation of Henry James’s Selah Terrant from The Bostonians.

That’s the saga, a love story really. And the moral of the saga:  join Talker!

UPDATE Good Bye Monroe Post and thanks for the memories.

Good Bye Monroe Post and thanks for the memories.

SEE ALSO 

Saying goodbye to the weekday print edition of the Democrat and Chronicle

About The Author

dkramer3@naz.edu

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY and Lake Affect Magazine.  My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.

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