[Carol Kramer in the mid-1970s when she taught mathematics at Mercy High School. From Carol Kramer 5/29/33 – 10/16/21]
Without Carol, Talker of the Town would not be Talker of the Town. She was our editor, proofreader, photographer and truth telling critic who said the stories are too long. The resident mathematician, Carol once devised an elaborate formula for comparing the salaries of baseball players from 1981 vs. 2018.
When Stonewall Jackson died from his wounds at Chancellorsville, Robert E. Lee declared, “I have lost my right arm.” So have we.
Two of our escapades at the Highland Crossing in Brighton showed her pluck — if not courage — and good humor. A hunter’s tree stand on the Highland Crossing Trail during a late April snowfall is the story of an abandoned hunter’s tree stand set way back behind the trail that I had only recently discovered. We knew the storm was coming, and to prepare for the story we needed an image of me at the creaky stand high up on a tree.
Carol suffered from Parkinson’s and walking, though important as exercise, was difficult. Nonetheless, showing her pluck, she agreed to take the photograph at the trail. First, I dressed in my red umpire uniform to appear like a hunter. Using a long stick that leans against a backyard tree, we took a trial shot.We put the stick in the back seat of the car; part of it stuck out the window, but we determined driving was safe. At the Crossing, we parked next to Empire State College. We had to carefully walk down a slope as I held Carol’s hand to keep her steady. The morning was raw and drizzly.
Carol dressed in black and me in red, we looked like figures from a 19th century Gothic novel wandering a windswept heath somewhere in the English countryside. There, she showed her courage, gamely hobbling down the path as I encouraged that we were getting closer and closer to the stand. We had to leave the main path to an adjacent one that is rougher going.
Finally, we spotted the stand high up in the tree. Carol took photos from multiple angles. When we got home, we happily learned Carol had done her work well. Yesterday, I counted that our trek was approximately 500 paces, a heroic journey for a woman with Parkinson’s.Our emu escapade to the Highland Crossing is more bittersweet as Carol did not live to see the finished project. As seen in Exotic animals once lived next to the Highland Crossing Trail, the old man who lived in the abandoned farmhouse next to the trail once owned emus.
I have started a fable based on the perspective of the emu who used to live on the farm. The emu has been hiding out in the woods and after many years reemerges. He is aghast at what he finds in the world and ultimately puts his head in the sand at Lake Ontario. See Wild emu spotted and captured on the Highland Crossing Trail (unfinished)
For the fable, I needed an emu outfit or at least an ostrich outfit, the near relative of the emu. For a mere, $57.22, I bought an Ostrich Adult Costume from HalloweenCostumes.com. Carol agreed the money was well spent.
When the costume arrived, the instructions were inscrutable. Frustrated, we went to Party City Market Square Plaza on Jefferson Road where the manager had agreed to help. At first flummoxed, he finally figured out how to unzip the head and install the costume. There we were in Market Square Plaza: Carol escorting an emu back to the car past bemused customers.
As seen in Wild emu spotted and captured on the Highland Crossing Trail (unfinished), my friend Dean took some photos of me-the-emu, but as the story progressed one important image was missing: the emu peering wistfully at his old home.Showing her humor and dedication to the magazine, Carol agreed to take the photo, especially since the distance to the site was far less than to the stand. To avoid the rough slope at Empire State College, we parked in the farmhouse driveway and walked along Westfall Road to the trail.
If in the April drizzle, we were Jane Eyre characters, in the May sunshine it was strictly theater of the absurd: right out Eugène Ionesco’s Rhinocéros where the inhabitants of a small, provincial French town turn into rhinoceroses. Actually, as we walked passing cars honked and passengers waved. They thought I was Limu the Emu from those weird Liberty Mutual Insurance commercials!
Carol was convinced I should look as much as possible like an emu, not a man dressed as bird. She found an angle that almost fully concealed my face. Nonetheless, when we looked closely at the photo on the screen, Carol fretted that there must be a better way to disguise my hands. We almost went back but decided it worked well enough: after all this was theater of the absurd.
Carol did not come with my friend Bruce and I when went to Durand Eastman Park for the final shot: the emu with his head in the sand. She did, however, put the outfit on me, for by then we had mastered the art of wearing the Ostrich Adult Costume.Mom, I hope you like this story. Is it too long?
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