Edward R. Crone Jr. (aka Billy Pilgrim) remembered at the Brighton Veterans Memorial in Buckland Park

Edward R. Crone Jr. (aka Billy Pilgrim) remembered at the Brighton Veterans Memorial in Buckland Park

Matthew Bashore, Brighton Veterans Memorial in Buckland Park, 11/11/20 [Photo: Maya Giron, RIT Photojournalism ’23] See At his boyhood home site, Historic Brighton dedicates Marker to Edward Crone, Brighton War Hero and Famous Fictional Protagonist

2020 has been the year of Edward R. Crone Jr.

As seen in At his boyhood home site, Historic Brighton dedicates Marker to Edward Crone, Brighton War Hero and Famous Fictional Protagonist, a few weeks ago Historic Brighton dedicated a marker on Crone’s home site at 1627 Monroe Ave. (M&T Bank). The marker explains that Crone, a Brighton High School graduate, was the inspiration for the “Billy Pilgrim” character in Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Slaughterhouse-Five.

10/25/20. (l-r) Grant Holcomb, Historic Brighton Board member, Matthew Bashore, President, Historic Brighton and William Moehle, Town of Brighton Supervisor. (Historic Brighton facebook page) From At his boyhood home site, Historic Brighton dedicates Marker to Edward Crone, Brighton War Hero and Famous Fictional Protagonist

Then, on Wednesday, Crone’s service was honored at the Veterans Day ceremonies at the Brighton Veterans Memorial in Buckland Park.

(left) Congressman Joe Morelle. In the background, Sarah Clark, representative elect in the 136th Assembly District seat. [11/11/20 Photo: David Kramer]; (right) at podium Brighton Town Supervisor William Moehle, behind him, Historic Brighton President Matt Bashore [11/11/20 Photo: Maya Giron, RIT Photojournalism ’23] See also A snowy 100th Veterans Day in Brighton and the Battle of the Bulge

At the event, kept smallish because of the pandemic, were several familiar faces who come to honor veterans every year, including Brighton Town Supervisor William Moehle, Brighton Town Council Member Robin Wilt, Brighton Town Judge Karen Morris, former Brighton Town Supervisor Sandra Frankel and Congressman Joe Morelle.

Nonetheless, the highlight of the event was Matthew Bashore’s discussion of Crone’s life. As described by Moehle:

At Brighton’s Veterans Day ceremony, Historic Brighton President Matt Bashore told the story of two WWII privates, Kurt Vonnegut and Edward R. Crone, Jr. Crone became the inspiration for the character Billy Pilgrim in Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five. Crone grew up in Brighton and died in a POW camp in Dresden where Vonnegut was also imprisoned. I presented the Town’s Veterans Day proclamation to Matt and it is on display as part of the Brighton Memorial Library’s Vonnegut display.

(left) Brighton Town Supervisor William Moehle and Historic Brighton President Matt Bashore [11/11/20 from Moehle’s facebook page]; (right) the Proclamation at the Brighton Memorial Library’s exhibit on Crone and Vonnegut [Photo: David Kramer]

Matt began his talk by describing a special kinship he feels with Crone who lived only a few blocks away from Matt’s home in the Roselawn neighborhood. If Matt had lived during WWII, he would have known Crone, perhaps gone to school with him and perhaps gone to war with him.

Matt told the story of a gentle soul who felt he was doing his duty to liberate Europe. Matt talked of how Crone became a prisoner of war and a captive in Dresden during its firebombing in February 1945. After the bombing, Crone suffered from what Matt says today we would call PTSD. Crone stopped eating and died of malnutrition in a German hospital. Five years later, Crone’s parents managed to have his remains repatriated and buried in Mt. Hope Cemetery. At this point, Matt mentioned that his remarks might actually be more fitting for Memorial Day, the day dedicated to those killed during their service.

Matt retold how in 1995 Vonnegut learned — to his astonishment as he saw Crone buried in Dresden — Crone was now interred in Mt. Hope. In Rochester to give a lecture, Vonnegut visited Crones’ grave, smoked a cigarette, spoke to Crone, and later said the encounter finally ended WWII for him.

See Kurt Vonnegut’s 1995 “Billy Pilgrim” pilgrimage to the Mt. Hope grave of Edward R. Crone Jr, Brighton High School ’41

In Moehle’s concluding remarks, he encouraged us to dust off our high school edition of Slaughterhouse-Five or borrow a copy at the Brighton Memorial Library where the novel is currently the featured work in its All Brighton Reads series.

I borrowed the audio cassette at BML. As I type, I’m hearing that Billy Pilgrim (aka Edward R. Crone Jr.) is wandering, traumatized, in the snowy fields of Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge, about to be captured and sent to Dresden.

POSTSCRIPT

On Wednesday, I went to Buckland Park at the time the WWI armistice officially began: The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. (see clock) Customarily, two minutes of silence is held while taps is played. I brought my father’s old trumpet and did my best.

Brighton Veterans Memorial in Buckland Park, 11:01 am, (see clock) November 11th, 2020. Trumpet from Eugene Kramer’s collection. [Photos: David Kramer] See  When all was quiet on the western front on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, 1918.

SEE

At his boyhood home site, Historic Brighton dedicates Marker to Edward Crone, Brighton War Hero and Famous Fictional Protagonist

Kurt Vonnegut’s 1995 “Billy Pilgrim” pilgrimage to the Mt. Hope grave of Edward R. Crone Jr, Brighton High School ’41

A snowy 100th Veterans Day in Brighton and the Battle of the Bulge

On the day to remember its fallen, Brightonian Slagana Avramoska Mitris reflects on what Memorial Day means to her.

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, and the CITY.  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 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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