An eerie quiet at Monroe Community College

An eerie quiet at Monroe Community College

Monroe Community College, April 21st, 2020. Except where indicated photos by David Kramer. Note I brought my mask. A jogger I met [more below] said he has not seen the team sports van move in weeks.

Recently, I’ve made excursions to five educational campuses: a high school, a two-year college, a four-year college, a university and an institute. [SEE SERIES AT END]

Today, I visited Monroe Community College. School is in full session — the virtual cloud humming with intellectual activity I could imagine but not see — but the campus was desolate.  In an hour stay, I counted exactly six people and saw one riderless RTS bus.

(left) main parking lot in front of the campus; (right) pedestrian path behind the baseball field, 4/21/20

During the excursion, I reflected on where Talker has been at MCC, and what might not happen for a long time. Every September 11th, people gather — vigil-like — on the walkway in front of the 9/11 remembrance site, carrying white roses, then convening for a ceremony in the Samuel J. Stabins Physical Education Complex.

2019 (left) Kelly at her first MCC 9/11 remembrance ceremony; (right) MCC professor and Brighton Town Court Judge Karen Morris. From “Motivated by the Audacity” Remembering 9/11 at Monroe Community College

see “Motivated by the Audacity” Remembering 9/11 at Monroe Community College

Next September will there be a 20th anniversary? Will be able to socially distance on the Remembrance Walk? Will we be able to gather in the gymnasium to remember and honor victims, survivors and first responders?

In 2016, we attended rallies for Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz at the Stabins Complex’s Monagan Court, and the Bernie Sanders rally at the nearby Bill Grey’s Regional Iceplex. Even if the races were still competitive, no rallies will be held before the New York State primary. And probably none during the presidential campaign.

Clinton and Cruz rallies

TOP (left) Hillary Clinton rally at MCC, 4/8/16 [Photo: George Cassidy Payne] from An Outsider Looking In: Report from a Clinton Rally at MCC from George Payne; (right) the Ted Cruz rally at MCC, 4/15/16, David Kramer with political propaganda placard made by MCC Professor of Art Athesia Benjamin [Photo: Jennifer Cherelin] from Talker interviewed by Channel 8. Knowledgeable supporters back Cruz’s gold standard; BOTTOM Building 10, 4/21/20, entrance to the 2016 Cruz rally and near where I held Athesia’s “CRUZ’S GOLD STANDARD IS FOOL’S GOLD” sign

see An Outsider Looking In: Report from a Clinton Rally at MCC from George Payne and Talker interviewed by Channel 8. Knowledgeable supporters back Cruz’s gold standard

Sanders rally

TOP  4/12/16. Bernie Sanders rally at the Bill Grey’s Regional Iceplex; (l) Sanders at podium, (r) Ravi Mangla from Athesia, Video Celeb turned Paparazzi, at the rally BOTTOM 4/21/20. The KEEP OUT sign was lying in a nearby waste bin.

see Athesia, Video Celeb turned Paparazzi, at the rally

In 2014, I watched Kenneth “Cruz Control” Cruz work out at the MCC baseball field with two SOTA teammates. The 2020 MCC baseball season is cancelled.

MCC, October 13, 2014, Kenny Cruz batting and fielding. Pitcher, Nick Petrone; catcher,Timothy Rodriguez. From No off season for SOTA’s rising baseball star. Oh, Kenny also currently has the highest GPA in the entire RCSD.

4/21/20. (right) plaque honoring H. David Chamberlain, MCC Coach Emeritus

2016. A scrimmage between the MCC’s women’s softball team and local high school all stars.


I met jogger Zachariah Barfield, a UR doctoral student in physics living in the apartments on East Henrietta Rd near MCC. We don’t know for sure, but the jogging path in the wooded area might be closed due to the covid-19 pandemic.

4/21/20, Zachariah Barfield

Doing his experiments in plasma physics at the UR Laboratory for Laser Energetics, Zach is able to continue his research, but with some delays caused by the pandemic. While Zach loves what he does, he’s going a little stir crazy. His apartment room designed for relaxation has now also become his office. Suddenly, work and play are more intertwined than Zach prefers. His head space is messed up. Hence, the jogging. Last time he was out, he saw one other runner. Zach hasn’t seen the Tribune team sports van move in weeks.

My route to campus began in the fitness and disc golf trails in the rear of the college. Today, the disc golf object  course was unused.

(left) Disc Pole Hole # 14, in background is basket #15; (right) in the bushes near the baskets was a deer.

My disc golfing friend educated me on some of the sport’s terminology and history. Its original name, Frisbee Golf, not been used since the mid-1970s. More significantly, Rochester — like Cooperstown for baseball — is considered the ur-home of organized and sustained disc golf competition. This year marks the 50th anniversary of league play:

Before 1973 and the invention of the disc golf target called the disc pole hole, there were only a few disc golf object courses in the U.S. and Canada. Despite having never heard of the International Frisbee Association (IFA) that Ed Headrick and Wham-O had put together, or ever seeing a copy of the IFA Newsletter, Jim Palmeri, his brother, and a small group of people from Rochester, NY, had been playing disc golf as a competitive sport on a regular basis since August 1970, including tournaments and weekly league play. By 1973, they had even promoted two City of Rochester Disc Frisbee Championship events which featured disc golf as the main event. (Wikipedia)

#9, 228/264, Par/3

As seen on the basket # 9 sign, the yellow/black numbers — 228 and 264 — refer to the distance between the tee pad and the basket.  The par is three. My friend says these days almost no one plays the black approach. 

On hole #9 — considered a “monster” — players must throw over water. The pond takes its fair share of misdirected discs. Players are often seen fishing out floating or sinking discs from the pond — to the detriment of their smartly coiffed disc golf outfits.

When sitting on this bench near #9, watch for flying discs splashing into the water hazard. See baskets on the other side of the pond to the left and right of the near trees.

As discussed on the Greater Rochester Disc Golf Club website, Rochester events have been cancelled up until the Saturday, June 27th GRDGC Series Event at the Parma Disc Golf Course, Spencerport, NY. My friend believes that disc golf is not legally prohibited, but the GRDGC has urged its members to practice scrupulous social distancing. Unfortunately, he has heard that some players are not maintaining adequate personal spacing, not wearing masks or playing in too large groups that he calls, “mobs.” My friend is not sure if the PATH CLOSED sign directly refers to the disc golf course. It may be that with the campus closed, MCC authorities don’t want anyone skulking around on the trails.

UPDATE 4/24: My friend, d.t., said he’d that he seen a DISC GOLF COURSE CLOSED sign at the iceplex entrance. A bike trek confirmed he had.  On the 18th hole is a tire — once a part of the fitness circuit — chained to two trees — and now used as as a lost-and-found receptacle for wayward discs. Players put names and phone numbers on their discs: drivers, mid-range and putters. When someone finds a disc lost in brush, they leave the disc in the tire and call the owner.

Across from the tire is an area cordoned off with steel wires difficult to see when the foliage is in full bloom. Once, d.t.’s disc landed in the area, and when retrieving, d.t. bruised his shin.  His leg hurt for a week. Disc golf is only for the rugged. 4/24/20

Inside the tire are two empty Ruby Grapefruit White Claw Hard Seltzers (5% alcohol). In the first disc golf game — Bladworth, Saskatchewan, 1926 — players threw tin lids. Perhaps players were using the spiked seltzer cans as discs, storing them in the tire. More likely, the trashed cans prove my friend’s initial hypothesis: the sign was posted by MCC authorities to discourage people from skulking around on the trails.

The Monroe Community College gymnasium. 11/01/84 Jesse Jackson campaigning for Walter Mondale during the presidential election. From Volume 3 Number 29, November 12th, 1984 edition of The Monroe Doctrine. From November 1st, 1984: Ronald Reagan five days before his 49 state landslide. And Jesse Jackson at MCC. And a liberal enclave.

(top) in 2003/4, I taught in the Department of English and the Transitional Studies Department; (bottom) From 1988 – 1991, my mother, Carol Kramer, taught calculus as an adjunct instructor in MCC’s Department of Mathematics. Note that faculty ID’s included (whited out) social security numbers. Before the rise of the internet, people must not have been as paranoid as we are about keeping SS#’s outside the public domain.

While I was looking for a picture of Carol from her time at MCC, I came across a thick file folder labeled “Miscellaneous Correspondence.” The following is the last paragraph of a letter written to the MCC Math Department in 1990 by David Sestito, one of her Calculus I students (included here over her objection).

Written to the Monroe Community College Department of Math, 5/20/90

When we discovered Mr. Sestito runs a Rochester company that designs and manufactures guitar effects — Leslie Simulator, Chorus effects, Univibe, Overdrive/Distortion, Echo, Tremolo — the discovery confirmed Carol’s prediction that David’s work ethic and commitment would lead to success.

Dave Sestito, today, President at DLS Effects, Inc. (Linkedin)

MCC Professor of English emeritus Lucian Waddell (sitting), early 2000’s. From My grandparents’ old gold coins and Anya’s lucky found money purse (standing) Eugene Kramer; (right) Lynda Howland

I have an autograph from the only MCC grad to be Mayor of Rochester: Robert Duffy, associate degrees in Recreational Leadership, 1975, and Criminal Justice, 1988. On 12/21/2010, I ran into Duffy at Silver Cleaners & Launderers on 245 Andrews Street. At the time, Duffy was Lieutenant Governor elect.  My hope was that Cuomo would run and win for president, making Duffy the Governor, thus raising the value of his signature.

12/21/10 dry cleaning ticket signed by soon-to-be NYS Lieutenant Governor [David Kramer’s collection]

I couple of years ago, I ran into Duffy at Thimble Tailor at Topp’s Plaza in Brighton. I told him about the signed dry cleaning ticket from Silver Cleaners. Duffy said that the owners had retired, moved to Florida and the store was closed. Duffy was wistful about the ending of Silver Cleaners which — as he wrote on the ticket — he had patronized since 1977.

The campuses

An eerie quiet at Rochester Institute of Technology

An eerie quiet at the University of Rochester

An Eerie Quiet at Nazareth College, Part Two, by Ian Richard Schaefer

An eerie quiet at Nazareth College

An eerie quiet at McQuaid Jesuit High School in Brighton

About The Author

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 and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. 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, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. 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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