Back to the glory days of 3¢ beer in Buffalo!

By Steve Cichon

Everyone loves a cheap beer, right?


But 3¢ beer? Now that’s news!

As newspapers around the country struggle, maybe they need to take a page from the 1935 Courier-Express, and report the news the people want– Namely, find the city’s cheapest schupers and kimmelwecks, and print that. Print it everyday.


After reading this, I’ll never pay a nickel for a beer again!

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UFOs on the Niagara Frontier

Are we alone out there? While many of us still ponder that question, it’s no longer a question that receives the sort of mainstream media attention that it once did. At some point, we stopped thinking of UFO sightings as news. Maybe it was around the time society started thinking of people who see UFOs as fringe kooks. But through the 1950s and 60s, everyday people made reports– and those reports were in turn, put in print.


A joking paragraph in 1951 Courier-Express article

Here are a few of those reports from Buffalo area newspapers. They show the cross-section of opinion with a mix of straightforward reporting, sensationalism, and skepticism.

Since conspiracy theories abound,  rest assured the only edits made to these images were, in some cases, taking the date and name of the newspaper from the page on which the story occurred,  and resizing it and pasting it to the top of the story. Nothing else was changed from the microfilmed copies of the newspapers.


This story was about DC, and made no mention of Buffalo.










Courier Express, 1969


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Black Friday shopping in Buffalo…1968

By Steve Cichon

Even before it was called Black Friday, the Friday after Thanksgiving has long been the day where people decide they need to get their behinds in gear for Christmas present shopping.
Sattlers close thanksgivingThis year’s big Thanksgiving retail controversy surrounds the many stores which have decided to open on Thanksgiving day, taking employees away from their families and friends on one of the last vestiges of humanity left in our God-forsaken country. I think that’s how I heard the whole thing described.  Anyway, it seems the whole world is against this move, calling it unprecedented. Most would point to the notion brought forth in this Sattler’s ad from 1968, wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, and asking them to stop by after the holiday.

For decades, I worked in the radio and TV industry, which can’t shut down for holidays. Even when you hate holidays, hate your family, and have no friends, it’s still awful working on a holiday when the rest of the world isn’t.

There’s always a very small number of people who’ll say, “I’d rather work!” Those people need to find better ways to deal with their problems. Just like the people who are excited about being able to leave their families on Thanksgiving to go buy worthless, consumery presents for those same people they are leaving.

Even if you hate your family, you should still spend time with them. Sitting in an intoxicated stupor on the couch in the same house counts as spending time with your family. At least I hope so.

Anyway, Thanksgiving 2013 is NOT the first Thanksgiving where Buffalonians could leave their homes and shop on the big day itself. In 1968, IDS Department stores advertised their 4 area locations were open on Thanksgiving Day. Could that be part of the reason no one has ever heard of IDS 45 years later? Hmmmmm.

I think shopping on Thanksgiving is a terrible idea, and, like every good American should be, I will drunk on a couch–not shopping on Thursday.

So here is that IDS ad, and the first of about 60 others to come over the next few days… A quick visit back to some of the cool things you could buy… and some of the cool places you could buy them in. Black Friday 1968 in Buffalo. As you’re reading, keep in mind that government data says that a 1968 dollar is equal to $6.71 in 2013 money. Enjoy!


The IDS stores in Buffalo’s Central Park Plaza, Union Rd-Cheektowaga, Union Rd-Orchard Park, and Niagara Falls Blvd were open 10-5 Thanksgiving Day 1968.

admiral radios

Admiral radio’s AM/FM radio is $106.55 in today’s dollars

am&as corningware

Classic Corningware from AM&As

am&as dolls


AM&As kids

AM&As massagers and curlers

Gifts for the lady from AM&As

am&as toys

More AM&As toys

am&as windows

come see the AM&As windows downtown…

bells can opener

Bells helping men buy presents for their wives…

Bergers by floor

LL Berger’s, six floors of holiday savings downtown

bergers CE

LL Berger’s and the Courier Express

boulevard mall

capecod junk

Junk from the Cape Cod store

capecod stores

century catalog

Century: one of Buffalo’s great catalogs used to pick your own gifts!

Century junk

Some of the junk available from Century

Hengerers James Bond racer

From Hengerer’s

hengerers iroquois lighter

Hengerer’s offered this great Iroquois Beer can lighter for only $2. Smoke ’em if you got em!


Half of a GEX ad… GEX was located where the Walden flea market now stands.

gutmans charge acct

Hey girls! Open your Marine Change at Gutman’s!

hengerers gifts mean more

Hengerer’s had about 10 pages of ads in the paper.

hengeres hottiesHengerers hotties


hens&kelly men

in 1960s mens ads, there was always a guy smoking a pipe, just like this Hens & Kelly ad. Always.

Don Cherry OWNED

Not an ad, but photo of Rochester Amerks Defenseman Don Cherry (4) getting owned by the AHL Buffalo Bisons. There’s a gift that keeps on giving.

Kleinhans Young men

Three Kleinhans locations

kmart blue light bargains for her'

kmart junk

K-Mart stuff

kmart toys

Toys from K-Mart


kmart blender

a subtle reminder from K-Mart that women like blenders

kmart TV

This TV and cart was at my grandma’s house. Its great to go through these ad to find the things that you remember…

Kresges phonograph

Kresges was owned by K-Mart, kinda like K-Mart, but not quite K-Mart. More like Woolworths.         Nice phonograph!!



Leader drug

Great stuff from Leader Drug

Leaders tempermental tessie

This was from Leaders. Don’t we all know women who, as girls, played with this doll a bit too much?

Main Place Mall

There used to be a mall downtown. Wait- BREAKING NEWS- there is still a mall downtown. Who knew? But when it opened, you could actually shop at Main Place Mall.

Neisners strange change toy

Was this toy at Neisner’s a result of early LSD experimentation?

Noahs Ark train

Great stuff from Noah’s Ark

Park Edge

Park Edge Grocery

Purchase radio label

Purchase Radio Label makers!!

Purchase ardaio modern pad

“For the modern pad.” Hahahaha.

sample ron burgundy

Ron Burgundy was apparently a model for The Sample

Sample santa

visit Santa at The Sample. Balloons are cheaper than candy canes, right?


Sattlers has more guys with pipes

sattlers junk

From Sattlers: This stupid valet chair has been a popular item at WNY thrift stores for 30 years.

sattlers pets

Sattlers had freaking everything… Including dogs. ON SALE!!

Sears Toys

Toys from Sears…

Sears color tv

The ad is black and whte, but the big console TV is COLOR from Sears.

Sears Happy female dishwashers

More 1960s retail misogyny: Look how happy the females of the house are with the automatic dishwasher! Unloading in a dress even!


A South Buffalo institution: Spoonley the Train Man

tankes rhymes with swanky

Tanke’s rhymes with Swanky’s. Very posh.

Town Squire

Town Squire in Allentown. This ad was on the theatre page.

ulbrichs junk

Ulbrich’s (junk)


My mom might still have some of this Woolworth’s wrapping paper

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November, 1963: Remembering How Buffalo Remembered JFK


By Steve Cichon | | @stevebuffalo

BUFFALO, NY – John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas 50 years ago today.

Caption from a Courier-Express photo of the JFK memorial service, held on the steps of City Hall, in the days following the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy on November 22, 1963. Photos from the event are posted below. (Buffalo Stories/ archives )

As the nation mourned, Buffalo mourned, and maybe more so. The largely Catholic Buffalo had a special interest in the nation’s first Catholic president. Hundreds of thousands of Western New Yorkers also had a special connection with Kennedy, having seen him in person during his two visits to the area, one in the weeks leading up to his election in 1960, and another, a year and a half before he was assassinated in 1962. (I wrote a column with more on JFK’s 1960 visit to Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Wheatfield, North Tonawanda, and Lockport earlier this week. )

Here are photos from Buffalo’s two newspapers, the Evening News and the Courier-Express, as a city mourned a President. They are, as published, in mourning and in memory, in the days following the assassination in Dallas.

The somewhat rare first bulletin newspaper

A Buffalonian so distraught he smashed his radio on the floor of his Main Street store upon hearing the news…

People watching the television coverage of the assassination in horror at Buffalo State College’s student union.

Kennedy speaks to 100,000 in Niagara Square in 1962.

JFK greets well-wishers in Niagara Falls in 1960.

Mayor Kowal leads a memorial service.

Mourners on Niagara Square


By Steve Cichon | | @stevebuffalo

BUFFALO, NY – JFK was important to the people of Buffalo, maybe even more so than the rest of the country. In 1962, 400,000 people came to see him here. Four-hundred thousand. Even if that is exaggerated by double, when is the last time 200,000 Buffalonians were measured doing anything together at the same time– aside from sitting on our collective well-padded ass watching sports on TV?

LOGO-JFK-Aud-172x300The truth is, I’m on Kennedy overload right now, but I know I have no right to complain about it. For the people who remember, 50 years later, it remains one of the saddest days of their lives, a sadness shared with an entire grieving nation. For most, it felt as if a member of the family had been shot and killed. Not anger, just sadness and grief.

As a little kid in the late 70s/early 80s, the Kennedy assassination seemed to me like the biggest thing that had ever happened in American History.

Everyone knew where they were when it happened. Msgr. Toomey came into my mom’s classroom at St. Teresa’s on Seneca Street.

But it wasn’t just the assassination, it’s who Kennedy was, and what he represented to the people in my family. My dad’s whole school– St. Stephen’s on Elk Street– got to leave class when President Kennedy’s limo came the wrong way down the 190 and got off at Smith Street… Then got right back on again. Kennedy got off the Thruway… so people could see his car and wave. There may have been some other technical reason, but technicality be damned for my 10 year old dad.

Kennedy came to Buffalo twice– as President, he paraded down Broadway and spoke in Niagara Square on Pulaski Day in 1962. There are great photos and memories from this day all over the web, including here

But somewhat forgotten, was his swing through Western New York as Senator Kennedy, running for President in 1960, only a week after the famous televised debate against Richard Nixon.

These are some photos from when the dynamic young Massachusetts Senator spent the day our backyard, from the archives of Buffalo Stories LLC and, as seen in the pages of the Courier-Express in 1960.


Buffalo Mayor Frank Sedita with JFK at the Aud.



JFK with Niagara Falls Mayor Keller


JFK motorcade on Pine Avenue in the Falls
JFK speaks outside North Tonawanda City Hall
JFK speaks outside North Tonawanda City Hall
An impromptu JFK speech in Wheatfield
An impromptu JFK speech in Wheatfield


All images from the Buffalo Courier-Express and the archives. This story originally appeared at

Your 1989 City of Buffalo TCI cable channel guide

By Steve Cichon

We just got a notification that they were moving around our cable channels, and I kinda laughed, since I have literally (and figuratively) no idea where any of my 900 cable channels are located anyway.

Every time I pull up the courage watch some TV, I spend 7 minutes trying to turn it on before I can start flipping. After 5 minutes of not finding anything good– but finding a lot of offensive– I go find something else to do.

Do you remember the days when you not only knew every cable channel you had, you also knew the number off the top of your head?


I remember first getting cable, and being amazed at the world that was opened up to me. Dozens of extra cartoons. You Can’t Do That On Television. Sabres Games. Guys speaking Spanish. Getting to watch Congressman Henry Nowak “Live from Washington, DC” on C-SPAN. OK, maybe that last one was just me, but for all of us, it was in 36 or fewer channels. It was fewer in my house, because we never got Disney or HBO. We, for some reason, always had Cinemax and Showtime. (I think they were cheaper than HBO and The Movie Channel at one point.)

Depending on where you lived, Western New York had a handful of different cable companies like Courier Cable, Cablevision, Jones Intercable, Adelphia, and TCI among others, until Verizon wound up gobbling them all up. I can remember looking  in the TV Guide with pre-teen anger at the all great stations people in other towns were getting that we weren’t. Jones Intercable always seemed unfair and a few years behind the times.

TCI served the City of Buffalo for most of the 1980’s and 1990’s. Here is the TCI cable lineup from 1989.

(For all the kids out there, you had to keep this next to the television, because the names of the stations didn’t appear on the screen when you flipped through the channels when your  mommy and daddy were little.)

That’s it! No page 2! No digital tier!

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Wait, what? Old-time Buffalo cops CARRIED perps to jail

By Steve Cichon

As a guy who people think of as a “historian,” it means that I get to do a lot of  “research.”

Right now, I’m in various stages of writing and research at least 6 or 7 books, most of them having to do with some element of life and pop culture in Western New York. The most fun part of writing a book for me, far and away, is the research.

It’s sort of like CBS Newsman Charles Kuralt talking about his old series “On The Road,” where he’d drive around the country in a Winnebago doing stories about oddities in every day life in America.

“We generally have a story in mind when we hit the road,” he said to WBEN reporter Mike McKay when Kuralt visited Buffalo in the early 90’s, “but we kinda hope we don’t get there.”

I love getting lost in research. It can be painstaking and hit or miss. Even if I know the date of some event that happened in 1963, you have to look through both the Courier-Express and the Buffalo Evening News a few days before hoping for a preview, and a few days after hoping for a recap. It’s often a low-odds gamble to look for something specific like that, and if you did nothing but look for what you were looking for, you could walk away with nothing after 8 hours.

So I end up reading the paper. From like 50 or 100 years ago. So even if I don’t find what I’m looking for, I find out things like Buffalo Police used to carry their suspects to the police station. Like over-the-shoulder WWF style.

I know, right? Read on.


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The car dealers of 1950’s Buffalo

By Steve Cichon

We’re going back 63 years here, but these photos show that on many levels, life was simpler not all that long ago.

Two generations ago, you could walk to the car dealership in your neighborhood to purchase your next ride. If you wanted to haggle over the 9 or 10 cars they had, you went in and talked with the guy whose name is on the sign. The buildings are just regular city buildings, many of which still stand today, and you’d never guess were once car dealerships.

It’s just so much different than what we think of in 2013.

Although most of these photos are likely from the mid ’40s or earlier, each of these photos was taken from a collection of ads dated 1950.

The best thing about every single one of these places? None of them are HUUUUGE.


DiBello Pontiac 1275 Main Street. Its facade is bricked over, but it’s still standing.


Don Allen Chevy, 2585 Main at Fillmore. Now the site of an Eckerd. I mean Rite Aid.


Gillen Pontiac, the only dealer shown outside of the city, at 3445 Delaware Avenue in Tonawanda. Until recently the home of Premier Liquor, it’s now Len-Co Lumber.


LB Smith Ford, 1212 Abbott Rd at City Line. Recently abandoned after years as a Ford dealership, the buildings still stand next to LB Smith Plaza, home of Hens & Kelly.


Maxson Cadillac-Pontiac, 2421 Main St at Jewett. Built as a Pierce-Arrow dealership, Caddys were sold here for about 65 years. Has been a bank for the last decade.


Rooney Nash, 2705 Bailey St. Neither the car make nor the building have made it. This was where the gas station near the police station is.


Taggart Schutz Pontiac 1294 Seneca St. building is boarded up and painted white, but still stands.


Taylor-O’Brien Ford, 2837 Bailey Ave, Buffalo. Building still stands with large cement awning next to the 33


Not a car dealer, but interesting old car photos, and AAA– which still does all these things (except the crisp white jumpsuit wearing.)

This page originally appeared at


Some of the best of 80’s Buffalo

By Steve Cichon

These are the kinds of thing that litter my hard drive and my attic.

This is what it means to be a “Buffalo pop culture historian,” having this sort of junk at my fingertips. And if I don’t regularly share images like these, people stop calling me a “historian” and start calling me a “hoarder.”

So these are from the Buffalo Stories/ Archives.

If you survived the decade of the 1980’s in Buffalo, New York, you very well may remember:

goldcircleIn most locations, Gold Circle took over Buffalo area Twin Fair stores in 1982. Gold Circle stores closed in 1988, with many becoming Hills, unless there was already a Hills location nearby (such as on Lake Avenue in Blasdell.)
tricogoal copyRemember when the Trico ad in the boards lit up when the Sabres scored a goal at the Aud? Windshield wipers were invented in Buffalo, and produced in 3 various plants around the city, until Trico closed up shop and moved to Mexico. Also, remember when the Sabres scored goals?


gennycreamposterbigA field full of plants growing cans of delicious Genny Cream Ale? Don’t tell me you haven’t dreamed this dream. People will come, Ray… People will most definitely come.


chamberofcommerce82This is the Buffalo Chamber of Commerce in 1982. The best part is, the “Talking Proud” hook rug hanging on the wall might not even be in the top 5 most 80’s things about this photo.


crystalbeachsuperduperGet your discount Crystal Beach tickets at Super Duper. That’s exciting, but the real excitement, in retrospect, was the fact that you could very likely cross the Peace Bridge by answering one question with “US,” and then getting a “go ahead,” from a customs guy.


irvdietpepsi copyThis 1981 Irv Weinstein photo has a strong 1970’s look about it, but the early 80’s had a strong 70’s look about them. For some people in WNY, the 70’s ended and the 80’s began some time in 1992.

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We are all Joe Hollywood

By Steve Cichon

One of the allures of wrestling is that while the characters are huge over-the-top exaggerations, there is (almost) always a solid kernel of truth in their grossly surreal mannerisms and affectations.

If Vince McMahon called you and asked you to invent a wrestling persona based on a Buffalo guy, and he was going to be a bad guy wrestler, you’d probably come up with something close to Joe Hollywood.

A drunken Bills fan with stupid nickname and a haircut that was really cool 30 years ago.

The perfect wrestler, right? But if you are a Buffalonian and you are reading this, there is an embarrassingly high chance that sentence can also describe you. (Yes, you too, ladies.)

While I don’t think most people would think that sentence applies to them, the chance is almost 100% that  a Buffalonian reading this is closely related to, or counts among his circle of friends “a drunken Bills fan with a stupid nickname and a haircut that was really cool 30 years ago.”

Most guys who fit this description are great guys. Really. Our neighbors, our friends, our uncles, our cousins, and look a little closer in the mirror—Us.

Just like a WWF (or whatever it’s called now) heel, Joe Hollywood took our idiosyncrasies to the extreme.

Not satisfied with drinking canned beer on the couch, or even getting kicked out of the Ralph the old fashioned way, this guy was arrested running around at field level in a Santa suit.

Most of us have nicknames that make us cringe when they are used in front of our wives. He went before a judge to change his perfectly Buffalo polysyllabic Polish last name to that stupid nickname that someone probably gave him drunk in a bar one night.

And, well, the hair.

Many of us had some fun booting this guy around the other day, and I get it. Add a couple of dozen run-ins with police to his persona, and you have the mass-media personification of that guy in your neighborhood or family that always seems to shatter the peace.

God rest his soul, he was the worst-case-scenario Buffalonian, the least desirable outcome of someone raised in our Western New York environment. But that reflects on us.

Despite the occasional numb-the-pain-over-indulgence during football games, most of us are far closer to the “good guy Buffalo wrestler persona” than Joe Hollywood ever was… but think of how many wrestlers have quickly turned from good guy to bad guy to stretch out a career.

Any of us are two or three… or two or three dozen… bad breaks away from Joe Hollywood. If anything good comes of this, let it be a reminder that all of us here in Buffalo probably need a good haircut.

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