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Saturday, February 24, 2018

Saturday's Sequel: My last convo with Ellen.

The woman seen in the image atop this entry was taken in bygone years and features my dearly departed friend, Ellen Rachel McConnell Blakeman, whom I've known since the third grade.

Ellen passed from this life on February 11, 2018, which is something I discussed in this past Saturday's blog entry, the same day a memorial service was being held for Ellen in her home state, Illinois.

I think the last time she and I spoke may have been exactly a month before her death, and I say this because I recall telling Ellen that the gutters on the rental apartment building where I live had burst and fallen off the building. This accident was probably caused from the heavy snow falls that we'd been having in NYC, starting with January's "bomb cyclone."

A photo of the gutters that crashed off the building where I live and landed in the backyard of a neighbor can be seen in the next image, which was taken from the vantage point of my rooftop garden.

The EXIF info associated with this picture indicates I took it on on January 11, 2018, which was (as I've been saying), one month before Ellen died.

At the time when I heard the loud crash when the gutters fell, I thought chunks of ice and heavy snow had fallen from buildings across the courtyard, as this has been the case for many years.

However, when I ventured out on to my rooftop garden, to see what had caused the unusually loud noise, I saw the fallen gutters in my neighbor's backyard. Over the years Ms. S (the tenant who lives there), her young daughter, their cat, and their friends, have spent a lot of time out in the yard — no matter what the weather conditions are occurring. Therefore, it was more than a lucky thing that nobody had been there at the time.

The orange arrow that I've affixed to the image indicates a frequently used hula hoop in Ms. S's yard.

The smaller orange arrow directly across from it is pointing over the fence that separate the building where she lives from the one where I live; and the "stocky" arrow is pointing towards where one of the gutters had been prior to falling.

I've known Ms. S for years. In fact, when my eyesight made it impossible to ride my old Schwinn single bike, I gave it to her daughter. The bicycle can be seen in the next image and as you can see, it has taken quite a beating since she took ownership.

I miss not being able to cycle on a single bike, but. fortunately I can at least participate in cycling via a tandem (as evidenced below).

But getting back to my last conversation with Ellen re the fallen gutters: This was not the first calamity she has heard about when it came to the building where I live.

In 1997, the roof of the building where I live, collapsed into my small studio apartment leaving sheet rock and particles of "white dust" throughout my place (as seen in the following pictures).

The blue arrows on that are affixed to the second image indicate part of the damaged sustained to a piece of furniture and the purple arrows that are affixed to the third image indicate a Caller ID box, which is now obsolete, but I recall Ellen and I admitting the durability of this gadget.

All those particles of dust ultimately scratched my eyes as well as my contact lenses. As a result, my vision was less than what is considered normal for me (which is already very comprised).

Be that as it may, at the time of the collapse I was teaching writing (English 201 evening sessions) at Hunter College and a few of my students worked for attorney's that represented landlords. They had heard of many instances where ceiling collapses had happened in apartments that are on the top floor of brownstones, and some of them suggested I take pieces of the ceiling to an agency associated with housing in order to see if the sheetrock had asbestos and it it was sized at the standard 5/8" which is required by law.

I followed their advice and took pieces of sheetrock to the agency, then from there I headed off to teach my evening class at Hunter College.

On my way home from work that night as I headed up the street — lugging my very big bag of sheetrock and papers to grade — a man came from out of nowhere, approached me and said, "I hope you aren't taking your work home with you! That bag looks heavy. Let me carry it for you since I'm heading in your direction."

As we headed up the street, I said to him, "Since you asked me if I was coming home from work, are you also coming home from work?"

He said yes, he was on his way home from work, and when I asked him where that was, he told me that he worked for World News Tonight. I mentioned that my ex-boyfreind also worked on that show and wondered aloud if he'd known David.

This stranger said that he did know David, and at that juncture of our walk,  he pointed to a building and said, "I live there, but your bag is heavy, so  I'll walk you home."

When we got to the building where I live, the man leaned down and put his face very close to mine, and grimaced, "Would you like me to say hello to David for you?"

Almost immediately after the man left, I realized that I had been engaging in conversation with the famed newscaster, Peter Jennings (seen in the next photo from the web) who at the time was the host of ABC's World News Tonight.

Besides the fact that I hadn't owned a television for years (by choice), and besides the fact that my vision was even more compromised from the sheetrock dust, I never would've recognized the man, for I was in my own world news that night.

Ellen, my dear friend, was very amused by my chance encounter with Peter Jennings and she thought my not recognizing him was "FANTASTIC."

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