BY DEB AND TIM SMITH
It was just a few weeks ago when we kicked off a Mendon Farms article by saying “It all started with a phone call from our boss, Sentinel publisher Chris Carosa asking, ‘Do you know Tim Kalb?’” We actually did know Tim K. through Tim S’s connections via Mendon-HF summer rec and Victor Senior High School. That story was about how Tim Kalb had used his masterful stone masonry skills to resurrect the massive cobblestone base for the huge cast iron anvil that looms at the Victor-Mendon Road entrance to the Mendon Farms subdivision which is located up the hill and just east of the Mendon hamlet’s four corners.
That Mendon Farms monument collectively and effectively combines two iconic symbols for which the Mendon community has long been known. Those two symbols would be equestrianism and cobblestone buildings.
Next, we’ll move on to the phone call that essentially leads into this most unexpected storyline update. At around noon this past Friday, November 3rd, we received a distressed phone call from Tim Kalb choking out the words, “Deb and Smitty, my anvil’s gone!” It actually took a minute to cut through the emotion and extract a full explanation, the long-story-short of which was that a garbage truck had plowed into the monument in a dead-on collision which resulted in the following final score…
50,000 lb. garbage truck 1
Cobblestone monument 0
Chalk this one up in the sad-but-true category. The beautifully refurbished Mendon Farms monument had enjoyed a life of about two weeks. That being said, some of the details surrounding the accident are so surreal that if they’d been made up as fiction, the reader would inevitably be left with the honest reaction that, “This is too contrived to ever actually be true. Nothing so bizarre could ever happen in real life.”
So what were those stranger-than-life circumstances surrounding this surreal saga? Here we go… Tim Kalb leaves his home in Ionia that morning to remount the three-foot-wide wooden oval sign that reads “Mendon Farms” and faces the traffic turning into the development off of Victor-Mendon Road. After taking Mendon-Ionia Road into the hamlet and turning right, Tim finds himself following a Casella Waste Services garbage truck up the hill. Only later is it revealed that the truck is being driven by a young driver in training.
He watches as the truck flashes its right directional signal, swings wide around the corner into Mendon Farms, and drives directly into the monument, the new bollards that had been installed doing little to assuage the momentum of the 25-ton truck. So the initial level of irony in this story is that Tim sees first-hand the demolition of the monument he had worked so hard to resurrect. The ultimate level of the irony, if you haven’t figured it out already, we’ll save for this article’s finale.
Upon witnessing the impact, Tim pulls over and calls Mendon Town Supervisor John Moffitt and then us. When tragedy strikes you call in the local government and then the local media. While John gets the first call, we are the first to arrive on the scene because we live right down the road.
After having a couple of minutes of doing our best to calm Tim down, John arrives for what is not the first “post monument” conversation the two men had anticipated. “These were certainly not the circumstances,” John says, “under which I thought I’d first be talking to you.”
Because he’d been out of town, Tim had not even been paid for the original work he had done on the monument. So what followed was an unusual conversation about what to do with Tim’s invoice for his original work taking place at the scene of where obviously a whole new round of work will need to be taking place. (Supervisor Moffitt later informed us that Casella will pay Tim to repair the monument.)
So what about those “stranger-than-life circumstances surrounding this surreal saga” that we promised? The most surreal aspect of these circumstances can only be realized when one extrapolates the timing of the event. If Tim had left Ionia two minutes earlier, he would have been dead.
Think about it. Two minutes would have been about the time it would have taken for him to park his car, grab his equipment and the “Mendon Farms” sign, and make his way to the front of the monument where the sign needed to be attached.
When that young driver in training took that corner too fast, and was unable to steer the vehicle to the right side of the monument, the resulting collision was inevitable. The fact that there might have been a human being working on the side of the monument where the impact occurred would not have made a damn bit of difference. Our good friend Tim Kalb would have been standing right at the precise point of impact where the 50,000-pound truck would have crushed him against the cobblestone monument.
So if we haven’t sent a little chill down your spine at this point, brace yourself. We’re about to deal you a double dose of Twilight Zone. At precisely 5:07 pm the previous evening, Thursday November 3rd, Tim Kalb had sent us an old picture he had come across which was taken at a 1981 Rolling Stones concert in Buffalo.
There are four Honeoye Falls folks visible in the picture… Tim Smith’s brother Scott Smith, Roger Potter, Susie Otis, and Tim Kalb. As we shared memories of the photo, one irony emerged. We realized that all the locals in the picture are now dead… except for Tim Kalb. Then the very next day Tim escapes his demise by a matter of minutes. Thank God we’re not writing an article about how Tim had actually foreshadowed his own death.
So if you need some stonework done, Tim Kalb could be your man, but you might want to think twice about having your picture taken with him.