Saturday, April 17, 2010

The builder

I recently met Clarence Lee, who helped build Community General Hospital.

I learned about Mr. Lee from his daughter Debora Vanni when she called to inquire about this old photo of the hospital during construction.

Mr. Lee had seen this photo displayed in the corridor that connects the diagnostic center with the main hospital. "That's me," he said, pointing to the construction crane hoisting concrete as the original hospital building took shape in 1960.

For many years Mr. Lee operated a crane for the J.D. Taylor Construction Company, and he worked on projects throughout Upstate New York. He recites his past work like book titles: the construction of I81 and I90, Wetzel Road Elementary School, the Carrier Dome and Bird Library, Upstate University Hospital, and Community General Hospital.

Mr. Lee was part of the decades-long building boom that started after World War II and created much of the infrastructure Central New York still relies upon. In addition to the photo Mr. Lee admired, I gave him several additional snapshots of his crane that were taken by Charles Calligaris, Community's second employee.

I'm going to mention you in my blog, I told Mr. Lee. "Well, you'd better call me 'Skip,'" he said. "No one will recognize me as 'Clarence.'"

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