Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Baden our time at the Sagamore

Perusing the schedule of speakers at this year's NYSFDA convention, Mr. Hall had sighed and written off the affair as just another rehash of tired old material; but the keynote speaker caught his eye and he ordered Mrs. H. to the keyboard. "Conjure us up some rooms at Lake George, dear. We're headed north!" Loading up the big black car and taxiing out of the funeral home hanger early Monday afternoon, they braved the Albany traffic and arrived in Lake George Village in time for dinner. Several gooey ribs and a few smart cocktails later, they toddled off to slumber.
Bright and early the next morning, in the company of a few hundred other fellow funeral directors, they wiped the dew (and any other remaining alcoholic residue) from their eyes and sat up at attention to hear Dr. Michael Baden, chief forensic pathologist for the New York State Police, impart the wisdom of his many years. Those who may believe that the dead don't tell tales have simply not been listening closely enough, for Dr. Baden has had a lifetime of teasing the truth from these very reticent witnesses to crime and history. The long and impressive list of high profile cases he's worked on would have made him a fascinating study all alone, but his natural good humor and common sense made him a sparkling speaker altogether and the measly two hours he was granted only scratched the surface of his amazing career.
Out of consideration for the tender sensibilities of the Gentle Reader, the Monitor will not go into the more grisly details of his presentation, but suffice it to say, it was informative, surprizing and satisfying in the extreme. Mrs. Hall took notes at the table but Mr. Hall was seen shaking hands not only with Dr. Baden before the seminar, but also commenting on the state of the industry with Vernie Fountain, Embalmer and Post Mortem Reconstructive Specialist. The Halls have attended several of Mr. Fountain's seminars and his reconstructive work is nothing short of magical.
De rigour at the conference, of course, is the Exhibitor displays in the hall, complete with strolling lunch stations and gourmet cookie desserts. While it's not uncommon to see some of their fellow attendees sliding their arms across the displays, shoving promotional boodle into their monikered non-woven trade show bags like there was no tomorrow, Mr. Hall saw nothing particularly noteworthy this year, and eschewing the countless coffee mugs and endless parade of refrigerator magnets, he headed over to the casket showcase. Mrs. Hall busied herself making a Chicago style hotdog, with all the fixings, at the food island, carefully avoiding any item that smacked of organic, fortified or (shudder) heaven forbid, free range. She had been contemplating bidding on the gift basket in the silent auction that contained a wooden facsimile of an old beer advert, some napkins, glass cozies, two ceramic beer steins bearing the countenances of Schultz and Dooley and some old Utica Club beer bottles, but that old buzzkill, reason prevailed and reluctantly, she let it pass. They met at the pavillion door on the way out, satisfied they had surveyed the landscape sufficiently and headed back to the hotel.
The lake glittered and the cocktail parties beckoned, but the Halls had miles to go before they slept. Stopping only in Saratoga, at Mrs. Hall's insistence, to purchase baked goods from the famous Mrs. London's Bakery, they managed to make good time, thanks to a hefty tail wind, and blew into the old homestead early.


Anonymous said...

If you ever find yourself with time on your hand, and heading to Lake George from the west, try exiting at Herkimer, taking Route 5 to Rt 67 (at least 10+ miles, check a map) and take Route 67 to Johnstown and then up to Gloversville and over 29. It's a very nice summer ride.

Penguin Hall said...

Thanks for the tip! We'll file a flightplan for that some weekend this fall and check it out.

Tell your friends!