Steve Hartman of CBS Evening News visited Fairport in June to do a story based on a column I wrote, published in the April 16 edition of this newspaper. Titled “Treasured Films She Never Saw – Until Now” the column told the story of Robert Kramer and Leona Sharp, graduates of the Fairport High School class of 1937. Hartman’s story appeared on the national broadcast of the CBS Evening News on Friday, July 31, and was also featured on the CBS Sunday Morning show.
Lieutenant Robert Kramer, pilot of an Army Air Corps B-17, was killed when his plane was shot down over Germany on October 10, 1943, just months after he and Leona Sharp were wed. Lieutenant Kramer was officially identified as Missing In Action for several years, while the Kramer family and his young wife held out hope of his survival.
Leona recently saw for the first time the films created by Robert Kramer over 75 years ago. The color films, labeled “Kodachrome Experiment” were taken by Kramer in 1938 and 1939, when he was an employee at Eastman Kodak. They include scenes of Rochester and Perinton, several Kramer family members including younger brothers Elden and Donald, and of course, the woman who would become Robert’s wife, Leona Sharp.
An enormous amount of information was provided to CBS for this story. However, the reality of broadcast television and editing of the interviews resulted in a news story which was short, just over four hundred words in total. Understandably, many important details reviewed with the CBS team were not included in the story, such as Lieutenant Kramer’s status as Missing In Action. And although it wasn’t mentioned in the CBS story, it was Robert’s brother Elden (1924-2008), also a WWII veteran and an Eastman Kodak employee, who many years ago retrieved the forgotten films from the attic of his parent’s house in Perinton.
I am grateful that the Kramer family preserved the films for all these years, as this is what allowed me the privilege to put the pieces of this story together, reunite Leona Sharp with the memories of her youth, and share the story with our community and beyond.
A link to the CBS story can be found on the following website: www.cbsnews.com/evening-news/on-the-road/.