Titles in our Bookstore

The Complete History of Parkside

By Steve Cichon

A history of the Frederick Law Olmsted designed neighborhood, from its place in the history of the Seneca Nation, to its role in the War of 1812, to Olmsted’s design and the turn of the century building out of the area, and the neighborhood’s 20th century evolutions.

Read excerpts now

Included are discussions of the area’s earliest colorful settlers, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin Martin House, Delaware Park, The Buffalo Zoo, and the stories and anecdotes of many more struggles, individuals, and institutions that have made Parkside one of Buffalo’s premier historic neighborhoods today.

Softcover, 135 historic photos, 172 pages. $14.95

ISBN: 978-0-615-32784-6

BUY IT NOW in the Buffalo Stories Bookstore

Read more about Parkside from Buffalo Stories LLC

St. Mark Parish: The Loving Legacy of Msgr. Francis Braun and Sr. Jeanne Eberle

by Steve Cichon

A BUFFALO SCRAPBOOK history of the North Buffalo, NY parish with a special emphasis on Sr. Jeanne and Fr. Braun’s combined 64 years of service to the community.

Parishioner Steve Cichon traces the history of the storied parish back to the beginning in 1908, when one early parishioner remembers being able to see the street cars through the trees on Hertel while standing on Russell Avenue.

With 224 paperback pages and nearly 300 images and period news articles, the book takes the reader up to the present day with Fr. Joe Rogliano’s pastorate and the parish’s linking with St. Rose of Lima.

Softcover, 300 images, 224 pages. $24.95

ISBN: 978-0-982-32392-2

BUY IT NOW in the Buffalo Stories Bookstore

Read more about the book and service of Msgr. Braun and Sr. Jeanne

 

Irv! Buffalo’s Anchorman: The Irv, Rick, and Tom Story

By Steve Cichon

The story of a TV anchorman so universally loved in Western New York that only one name is necessary… Irv. From the 1950s through the 1990s, Irv Weinstein informed and entertained generations of Buffalonians with his unmistakable style of writing and delivering the news. Together with Rick Azar and Tom Jolls, Irv was a part of the longest running anchor team in history, and their story is the story of Buffalo over the last half century.

From the time long ago… When our TV picture looked like it came from the bottom of a Coke bottle in fuzzy black and white, to today’s electronically augmented color; one man in Buffalo television has been the leading presence. As Clint Beuhlman once dominated Buffalo radio, as Walter Cronkite dominated network news, so Irv, through his intuition, aggressive style, his personality, has dominated the local news scene. -Phil Beuth

Softcover, 74 historic photos, 148 pages.

ISBN: 978-0-9828739-0-8

BUY IT NOW in the Buffalo Stories Bookstore

Read more about Eyewitness News and Irv Weinstein from Buffalo Stories 

 

A Buffalo Scrapbook: Gimme Jimmy!
Mayor James D. Griffin in His Own Words and Pictures

By Steve Cichon, with a Forward by the Griffin Children.

Through his unequaled 16 years in office, Jimmy Griffin was the bigger-than-life, most talked about mayor in the history of Buffalo. Author Steve Cichon and Mayor Griffin’s children have selected nearly 200 photos from the personal and mayoral archives of the Griffin family. The images are interspersed with the stories, quotes, and wisdom of James D. Griffin himself, recorded in print, audio, and video over a nearly half-century in public service.

Paperback, 140 pages, $16.95

ISBN 978-0-9828739-1-5

BUY IT NOW in the Buffalo Stories Bookstore

Read more about Mayor Griffin from Buffalo Stories LLC

 

The Real Steve Cichon: A Tribute to My Relationship with My Ol’Man

by Steve Cichon

My ol’man, Steven P. Cichon, died Palm Sunday, 2010 at the age of 58. Losing a parent is unimaginable, even when you spend the decade up until the death imagining it over and over again.

My dad was a very sick man the last 8 years or so of his life. He lost a leg to diabetes, and had a very serious heart condition. He made regular trips to the hospital by ambulance, and spent weeks at a time in the hospital.

During those times when he was very sick, I tried to prepare myself for his death. Tried to think it through; imagine what it might be like, so it would all be easier to deal with.

No dice. You’ll read that it’s all unimaginable. An extension of yourself is gone. There’s a hole in your heart. All sorts of vital information is gone. It’s like somebody lit the reference book you’ve used your whole life on fire. You’ll read, too, about quite a few things I’d do just for dad, that I sadly have stopped doing.

He’s been gone about two months as I write this, and it’s still hard. I have no doubt that it always will be. But putting all the swirling emotions I’ve felt into writing this has been wonderful.

It’s the story of my dad’s last week on this planet, and the story of his life on this planet, and, mostly, the 32 years he spent on this planet as my Dad, and Dad to Greg and Lynne.

46 photos, 56 pages. Paperback. $10.00

READ THE FULL BOOK ONLINE

BUY IT NOW in the Buffalo Stories Bookstore

Read more about my ol’man from Buffalo Stories LLC

 

staffannouncer.com (2003-2017)


SEARCH BUFFALO’S HISTORY with the form to the LEFT


staffannouncer.com is now BuffaloStories.com

Since 2003, Steve Cichon has been posting the sights, sounds, and stories of Buffalo’s pop culture past and present at staffannouncer.com.

Now, all of the great memories and plenty more are in an updated easy to read format at BuffaloStories.com.

An early staffannouncer.com production image.

It’s really hard to imagine, but back in 2003, you couldn’t find much about Irv Weinstein, Crystal Beach, Clint Buehlman, AM&A’s and Sattler’s online.

There were no researched stories or articles about many of Buffalo’s most cherished pop culture touchstones.

Click for the complete pages of staffannouncer.com 

In those days of prohibitively expensive digital scanners and cameras, dial up internet access, and slow page load times, there were very few photos of these people and places on the web.

Not wanting to live in a world where typing “Commander Tom” into Google had zero results, Cichon created staffannouncer.com with the idea that it would be a place to share his passion about broadcasters, broadcasting, and the stuff that was broadcasted about… especially here in Buffalo.

Fast forward to 2017, and many of the pages created more than a decade earlier aren’t formatted properly for the desktop, tablet, and smartphone browsers of modern web surfing.

Cichon spent months bringing all the 1999 AOL chatroom looking pages into the current Snapchat world, duplicating staffannouncer.com on BuffaloStories.com, where it’s far easier to read, search, and update as needed.

While the main staffannouncer.com URL will now redirect here to buffalostories.com, that’s the only change to the website. All the old pages will remain online at their original addresses as a form of historic preservation– but they won’t be updated, either for content or browser compatibility.

And in case you miss the old staffannouncer.com homepage, that’s still there, too… http://staffannouncer.com/lasthomepage.html

The pages of staffannouncer.com

[termposts]

Reformatted & Updated pages from staffannouncer.com finding a new home at buffalostories.com
Reformatted & Updated pages from staffannouncer.com finding a new home at buffalostories.com

Connecting people and their memories: Micro & Macro

By Steve Cichon | steve@buffalostories.com | @stevebuffalo

I spend a lot of time thinking about things that people like to remember and how to present those things in a way that make to not only make them smile, but also realize how those memories help shape how we got where we are today.

When I’m posting a blog post here or a piece on history.buffalonews.com, I’m usually thinking about the larger Western New York audience, or maybe a slightly smaller group or community– rarely am I trying to speak to a single person with a post.

It’s really gratifying, then, when i share something that we all love and remember ends up meaning something very personal and direct for someone who sees it.

That’s happened twice in the last week.

In one instance, a man who was featured in a 1970 news clip found the clip on YouTube and left a comment.

The video, shows a pro-Richard Nixon, “anti-antiwar” march on Buffalo’s City Hall in 1970. I interviewed WBEN/Ch.4 newsman Lou Douglas several times before his death, and each time he spoke about covering this march— and his fear for the safety of the anti-war counter protester he interviewed.  The young man– now a retiree– found the video on YouTube, and took the time to finish and add to the comment he couldn’t finish 45 years ago.

hardhats

The other instance was a bit more lighthearted and fun. If you lived in Bufalo in the 80’s, it’s likely you can sing the line, “You’re gonna wanna…. Come to Lackawanna…” It’s all because of this commercial, which I posted on YouTube a few years ago.


The Ridge Dining Furniture Family– always featured in these spots which ran through the 80’s and into the 90’s– wrote to say they thought they’d never see one of these spots again.

ridgedining

 

 

 

I explained that I found this commercial on a newscast that I had recorded as a kid– but also that I’d be on the lookout now for any more that I find.

It’s fascinating and edifying for me to reconnect our city to its past– and when it means something extra special to a particular person or family– its even more rewarding.

Love Our City.
Experience Buffalo.


SEARCH BUFFALO’S HISTORY with the form to the LEFT


Steve Cichon

From the earliest days of the internet, Steve Cichon has been writing, digitizing, and sharing the stories and images of all the things that make Buffalo special and unique. When you browse the blog here at Buffalo Stories LLC, you’re bound to not only relive a memory– but also find some context for our pop culture past– and see exciting ways how it might fit into our region’s boundless future.

Categories:

Buffalo’s Pop Culture Heritage
The essence of Buffalo Stories is defining and
celebrating the people, places, and things that make Buffalo… Buffalo. That’s Buffalo’s pop culture heritage-– and that’s what you’ll find here.

Buffalo’s Radio & TV 
Irv. Danny. Van. Carol. The men and women who’ve watched and listened to have become family enough that we only need their first names. Buffalo has a deep and rich broadcasting history.  Here are some of the names, faces, sounds and stories which have been filling Buffalo’s airwaves since 1922.

 Buffalo’s Neighborhoods
North and South Buffalo. The East and West Sides.  But how many neighborhoods can you name that don’t fit any of those descriptions? From the biggest geographical sections, to the dozens of micro-neighborhoods and hundreds of great intersections.

Parkside
There is a category for Buffalo Neighborhoods, but as the historian of Buffalo’s Parkside Neighborhood, and having written two books on the neighborhood’s history, giving the Fredrick Law Olmsted designed Parkside Neighborhood it’s own category makes sense.

Family & Genealogy
My family history is Buffalo history. All eight of my great-grandparents lived in Buffalo, including my Great-Grandma Scurr, who is among the children in this Doyle family photo taken in Glasgow, Scotland. Aside from Scotland, my great-grandparents came from Pennsylvania, Poland, and England. One branch of my family tree stretches back to Buffalo in the 1820s, and a seventh-great aunt was among the first babies baptized at St. Louis Roman Catholic church back in 1829, when the church was still a log cabin.

&c, &c, &C: reflections from Steve’s desk
While my primary focus for this site is sharing about things that make Buffalo wonderful and unique, sometimes I have other thoughts, too. I share those here, along with some of the titles from other categories which I’ve written about in a more personal manner.

Buffalo Stories Bookstore
Buy Steve’s five books and other special offers from Buffalo Stories LLC.

BN Chronicles
Steve’s daily looks back at Buffalo’s past from the archives of The Buffalo News and Buffalo Stories LLC. Weekly features include “Torn Down Tuesday” and “What it looked like Wednesday,” along with decade by decade looks at what Buffalo used to be– and how we got here from there.


By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

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The 1,000th look at critical, mundane: What BN Chronicles is all about

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Every week, I read a week’s worth of The Buffalo News from some gone-by year, looking for articles, photos, and ads that shed some interesting light on our past, help provide some clarity to our collective community memory of the great people, places, and institutions of Western New York, and help explain where we are now.

Western New York historian Steve Cichon combs through old editions of The Buffalo News to gather material for BN Chronicles. (Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)
Western New York historian Steve Cichon combs through old editions of The Buffalo News to gather material for BN Chronicles. (Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)

This week, The News will publish my 1,000th BN Chronicles look into Buffalo’s past.

We are all excited and thankful about the renaissance Buffalo is currently enjoying, but I think projects like BN Chronicles help us to remember — even amid all that is new and exciting — what truly makes Buffalo unique.

Every place has history, but few places have so much, so varied, so unheralded history as Buffalo.

In a city like New York or Boston or Chicago, there is likely at least one college professor who is an expert on every fascinating facet of those cities’ past. Books have been written that tell the complete stories of nearly every neighborhood, group of people, and institution.

Here, we are playing 50 years of catch up. For a half-century, as a community, we had a general self-defeatist attitude thinking that if it had to do with Buffalo or its past, it was probably not worth thinking about or keeping.

Now we realize our strength is in a future planted firmly in and building upon our past. The way to build Buffalo’s future is to collect and codify its past making for a deeper, richer experience not only for us, but also for the newcomers to our city who arrive daily.

It is the big things and the little things. Buffalo was suffering from a sort of mass depression, and many of the great moments of our pop culture history limped away and vanished unnoticed. Now that the depression is lifted, we are wondering what became of the way we have lived our Buffalo lives over the last 50 or 60 years.

In the ’50s and ’60s, we steamrolled our past with good intentions, expecting our city of 600,000 people to grow to 2 million. We wanted to build roads and giant skyscrapers to be prepared. In the ’70s and ’80s, the hemorrhaging of industry, jobs, and people left us reeling and wondering if the last person leaving Buffalo would turn off the light. The ’90s and 2000s saw more people realizing our resilient and friendly people were our strength, and seeds were planted to show off our assets and bring people back.

As the writer of the BN Chronicles, I enjoy taking the opportunity to share the snapshots in time that help tell us the story of how we got to the place we are right now. How our industries wound up decimated. Why the waterfront, Buffalo schools and Peace Bridge have been difficult puzzles to solve for years. But also the good news. The men and women who believed in this city when few others did. The sometimes terrible, but certainly well-intentioned and hopeful development that took place through the years. The people and places who through it all kept Buffalo the wonderful blue-collar spirited community it remains today.

But along with the heavy lifting, come some of the stories of our lives that have been lost to time. We are able to look at the city where you could not walk more than two blocks without hitting a corner gin mill, a firebox, and a milk machine. Maybe we are reminded to tell our kids and grandkids that when we did well in school, we took our report cards to Loblaw’s to get a free day at Crystal Beach.

Whether it is the earth-shattering headlines or the warm and fuzzy “whatever-happened-tos,” it is more than just nostalgia. The most important piece of what happens in the stories of the BN Chronicles is taking a step back and seeing how all these vestiges of our past have shaped who we are today. It is what makes us in Buffalo unique, and each story told adds to the critical mass that is bringing new life to our community.


This first appeared at history.buffalonews.com.

aaaBuffaloStoriesBNChronicles Watermark

 

The Anatomy of a Viral Post… Was it Worth It?

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

If you do anything online, some part of you hopes it goes viral, right?

One week ago, at this very moment, I was sitting at my desk, looking around at my mountains of stuff, trying to find something to write about for my Tuesday post for Trending Buffalo, when my eyes locked in on a pile of 1991 newspapers I’d been meaning to go through.

radioshackad-218x300I wrote about a Radio Shack ad that was just about right on top of the pile. Virtually all the technology in the ad for “America’s Technology Store” had been replaced in my life by my iPhone. So I allow words to vomit-forth from my fat fingers onto keyboard for a half hour or so, and I have a blog post.

A couple of days later, I got an email from the Huffington Post. They “want to sign me up as a writer,” and they like my Radio Shack blog, and want to repost it on their website. “All they need is a brief bio and a photo” to get the ball rolling. I was intrigued, but I also speak the language of modern media. They wanted my work for free in exchange for internet fame. OK.

Later that afternoon, just before starting to make a pan of gołąbki (Polish cabbage rolls), I quickly scrawled the following bio: Steve Cichon is a writer, historian, and “retired” radio newsman in Buffalo, NY. He has worn self-tie bow ties since the ’80s, written three books, and has turned his borderline unhealthy obsession with Buffalo’s pop culture history into a career. More from Steve at BuffaloStories.com.

Along with that, I sent a photo my wife took of me while we were having breakfast at the Lake Effect Diner one Sunday morning a few months ago.

Then it was back to boiling cabbage, browning onion, and mixing raw ground beef with my fingers. By the time I got the pigs-in-a-blanket in the oven, a friend had seen my blog post on Huffington and posted it on Facebook, tagging me.

By the time I went to bed, it had been shared by over 1,000 people on Huffington’s Facebook page.

Early the next morning, I got several texts and Facebook messages that the Today Show was teasing a story about my blog. They wound up doing a lengthy segment, using my Radio Shack image, a few of my one-liners, and my math. They used my story, didn’t add anything to it,and didn’t give me any credit.

It's really something to wake up hearing Al Roker using your jokes on the Today Show.
It’s really something to wake up hearing Al Roker using your jokes on the Today Show.

My friends got mad, but as I wrote on Facebook, “I’m glad people are offended for me, I guess because as a long time radio/TV producer, you get used to other people presenting your work. To be honest:: If I was reading this on the radio… I probably would have credited the Huffington Post, too. Maybe the author— but maybe not. I’m really not too broken up about it… or broken up at all, really. But its nice to see friends have your back, you know?”

The story of a viral blog, unattributed, made its way around the Buffalo News newsroom, and reporter Jill Terreri talked to me that day for a piece in “Off Main Street.” The headline on the few paragraphs she wrote was, “The Man Behind the Story.” Sharing that in social media the next day was another chance for my friends to enjoy my new found “fame.”

The Today show wasn’t the only place to “borrow” the story. Google images shows hundreds of instances where websites have posted the 1991 Radio Shack ad.

So now, here I sit… having fed the media a viral post wondering, was it worth it?

The upside is, between nationally read and syndicated websites, national television, and social media, there is no doubt that millions have seen my work.

Downside? Immediately, anyone would notice the trolls. Hundreds of nasty things written about me and my writing, some of them emailed directly to me so I couldn’t miss them. But that’s life on the internet.

The real downside is, while I wrote it, it’s no longer my work. It’s now in the public domain. I made that 1991 Buffalo News Radio Shack ad image with my cellphone here in my office early last Tuesday morning. Now, though, it will be floating around the internet forever, my contribution stripped. And don’t think the payment was on the front end. I was not paid for writing that blog at any point. Hundreds of websites, millions of clicks, making money– but none for the original creative force.

No attribution bothers me more than no cash, but neither one will ever keep me up at night. Honestly, I knew what I was signing up for in turning my piece over to Huffington. Not that it would air on the Today Show, but that I was basically handing off rights to my writing so that more people could enjoy it.

This isn’t about sour grapes, or railing against modern media. I’m really not complaining. I know the game, and I play it. It’s actually benefical for me to say that I’ve written a viral blog post, that I’ve written for the Huffington Post, and that my work has appeared on the Today Show.

It’s been kind of fun watching it unfold. But it’s also kind of sad knowing, when producers do little more than cut and paste, that some guy writing a blog in Buffalo is actually producing segments for network television at the same time.

So, anyway, I was thinking…. I wonder if Viral Nova would want this one?

This page originally appeared at TrendingBuffalo.com

One guy’s 2013: Imperfectly perfect

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

“The grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence.”

greengrass

Can we all agree this is a dumb thing to say?

Stupid as it is, though, when you break it down, you begin to see the complexity underlying the thought.

What does “greener” mean? There are infinite shades of green, and we all have our own unique notion of which color green the grass should be. What’s greener for you, might be less green for me.

And what about the other side of the fence? Are you going to climb that fence, or try to make your own grass closer to your neighbor’s?

Maybe he started with better grass seed. Maybe he has a $10,000 underground irrigation system that constantly waters the lawn at the perfect rate, while you hose yours down twice a week. But did you know he never eats out to pay for the system and the water?

He also gets it sprayed every week, so his kids and dog have to stay off the grass about half the time.

Greener grass, but at what cost? Especially when plenty of people like the natural look of your lawn better than the chemical look of his.

You need to figure out what that lawn you covet is worth to you, and if its worth the sacrifice. Nothing good comes without sacrifice.

Even though my wife generally cuts the grass at our house, I spent quite a bit of time thinking about these sorts of questions in 2013 as I “retired” from radio.

People always ask why I left. After 20 years of broadcasting and 10 years as a radio newsman, I walked away from my dream job as WBEN News Director to start my own business. Buffalo Stories LLC is really my big boy dream job.

People always ask what I do. I create and write for people, I help people learn to create and write for themselves, and I use my experience to help figure out what individuals, businesses, and non-profits need from their public persona to get them where they want to be.

I shoot video, write books, create websites, teach college classes, look into souls, bring people together for the common good.

In a sentence, I listen to people and use my skills to help them take what they already have and form it so they can better live their passion.

It’s what working for myself has allowed me to do, too. I am living my passions: helping people succeed, and helping Buffalo succeed by weaving threads of our glorious-yet-too-often maligned past into our future.

So when people ask, these are the things I tell them. I am extraordinarily blessed that they are all true. What I don’t usually talk about is that working from home and being your own boss isn’t all sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows.

Before I move onto bigger and better years, let me be honest for a moment about 2013.

It’s been hard. It’s been really hard. I’m not complaining, and I’m new at it, but it’s hard.

It’s hard to share a workspace with the rest of your life, including a wife and a dog. It’s hard to walk away from 15 items on the to-do list to walk into the next room to make dinner. It’s also hard to walk away from the dinner table and head back to work. It’s tough to get up at 5am to get some work done so I can spend some of the rest of the day with family or work on other projects now that I’m a “free man.” It’s torturous to wonder if I’ll ever land enough of the clients and projects I love.

It’s also a tough pill to swallow that the gains this year have not been financial. I’ve actually brought in, over the last six months, a tad less than I would have had I stayed in radio.

But nothing good comes without sacrifice. For all of the nonsense, in the last six months I’ve played roles in amazing projects, been hired by amazing people, and now have some truly extraordinary things on the horizon. I’m helping businesses and non-profits succeed. I’m writing books. I’m teaching. I’m working on TV documentaries about our beautiful extraordinary city and it’s people. I’m building on small successes, and planting seeds which will grow strong as time wears on.

Greener grass? I rototilled in 2013. I hoed and raked and seeded and watered, and most of it is lush, green, and beautiful. It’s even OK that a few spots came up brown, because it’s not only the results I’m proud of, but the vigilance and hard work, too. No shortcuts, no baloney. I think it’s the better way, despite the hardships.

I hope you can find your green patches from 2013, and hope that you’ve steeled your spine to do the work, and set your vision to make 2014 the best year yet.

This page originally appeared at TrendingBuffalo.com

Photos from Buffalo’s Jimmy Griffin years

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

He remains one of the most popular figures in Buffalo’s history. He was also one of the most vilified.

Jimmy Griffin was Mayor of Buffalo from 1978-1993. No one has ever held the post longer, and it’s a pretty good bet that no one ever had more fun doing the job. He got things done. Like Pilot Field. And the waterfront. And the Theatre District. And getting people to stay home and enjoy a six pack instead of heading out into the Blizzard of ’85.

Look at the smile on this guy’s face in nearly every photo, and tell me he’s not having a good time.

Mayor Griffin with Burt Reynolds, when he was in town shooting "Best Friends."
Mayor Griffin with Burt Reynolds, when he was in town shooting “Best Friends.”
Mayor Griffin had a car phone in the 80s. When they were REALLY cool.
Mayor Griffin had a car phone in the 80s. When they were REALLY cool.
Reeling in a Lake Erie mermaid with lawmaker Mary Lou Rath.
Reeling in a Lake Erie mermaid with lawmaker Mary Lou Rath.
Hizzoner was a natural behind the controls of a front loader.
Hizzoner was a natural behind the controls of a front loader.
He was also a natural on an elephant, leading the circus parade into the Aud.
He was also a natural on an elephant, leading the circus parade into the Aud.
With Seymour Knox on the Aud ice…
With Seymour Knox on the Aud ice…
Jim Griffin: Buffalo’s original Irish dancer? with Mercy sisters wearing Talking Proud buttons, dancers, and County Executive Ed Rutkowski
Jim Griffin: Buffalo’s original Irish dancer? with Mercy sisters wearing Talking Proud buttons, dancers, and County Executive Ed Rutkowski
Jim Griffin’s leadership spawned waterfront construction…
Jim Griffin’s leadership spawned waterfront construction…
Two rockstar Jims of 80s Buffalo… Jim Kelly and Jim Griffin
Two rockstar Jims of 80s Buffalo… Jim Kelly and Jim Griffin
The ol’Rockpile… Griffin’s tenacity and will pushed though the building of Pilot Field…
The ol’Rockpile… Griffin’s tenacity and will pushed though the building of Pilot Field…
County Executive Ed Rutkowski, The Mayor, and Danny Neaverth on the streets of South Buffalo…
County Executive Ed Rutkowski, The Mayor, and Danny Neaverth on the streets of South Buffalo…
A true man of the people and a one-time gin mill owner, Mayor Griffin poured a fine beer…
A true man of the people and a one-time gin mill owner, Mayor Griffin poured a fine beer…

These photos are among the roughly 200 photos which come from a new book about Buffalo’s beloved mayor.

A Buffalo Scrapbook: Gimme Jimmy! The James D. Griffin Story in his own Words and Photos, by Steve Cichon, will be in stores next week, or you can order a copy now at www.mayorgriffin.com  and have it delivered to your home by next week.

This page originally appeared at TrendingBuffalo.com

Book About Two Who Lived For Kids, St Mark, to Benefit Parish School

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

BUFFALO, NY –  They are called “Father” and “Sister” and it’s a case where they both really feel like members of hundreds of Central Park, Parkside, and North Buffalo families. It’s also a case of reciprocated love and concern.

msgrbraunsrjeannecrop
Msgr. Francis Braun and Sr. Jeanne Eberle each lead a part of St. Mark for three decades. Fr. Braun was Pastor of St. Mark Roman Catholic Church for 30 years, Sr. Jeanne was Principal at St. Mark School for 35 years. (Photo courtesy WNY Catholic)

Before each retired in the last few years, you had to go back to the 1970s to find someone else doing the jobs they loved, heading the St. Mark Parish and St. Mark School.

Though they approached their jobs with personalities almost as different as two human beings could be, Sr. Jeanne Eberle and Msgr. Francis Braun spent 30 years of ther lives selflessly and tirelessly giving their love and of themselves for the people of St. Mark, particularly the smallest ones.

For decades it was a common sight to see kindergarteners and first graders line up to give Sr. Jeanne a hug at the start or end of a school day, while the too-cool seventh and eighth graders walked on by, all with Fr. Braun watching closely, stationed on his own side of the hedge separating the rectory and the school.

It happened many times through the years, though, that the “too cool” kids became parents of St. Mark kids, once again willing participants in hugs for the woman who they know cared as much for their kids as they did themselves.

At Mass on Sunday, Msgr. Braun’s stories of days gone by, and his family made most of us feel like we were listening to stories of our own family. His grandfather the cop, the Crystal Beach boat, the firehouse around the corner, his Irish mom and German dad. We might still know Father’s family stories better than our own.

As the author of two books, including “The Complete History of Parkside,” Steve Cichon wants to write this story because these people are very special to him and the community.

“The history of St. Mark is rich and fascinating, and there are many wonderful stories to tell. From the stained glass depictions of events in the life of Jesus, to the thinly veiled anti-Catholic bigotry which lead to St. Mark being built at the corner of Woodward and Amherst, no one tells those stories better than Fr. Braun,” says Cichon.

“It’s only a natural extention, then, to also talk to Father about his life and times, and to record all of the great stories he shared about himself with us through the years. The same is true of Sr. Jeanne. It’s as much a genealogy project about two beloved family members as it is a book about our church. I’m blessed and honored to have so much support in writing and researching it.”

The hope is to have the work completed by the end of 2014, the 100th anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone of the current St. Mark church building.

If you have any photos, items, or stories pertaining to the history of St. Mark,
please contact Steve Cichon at steve@buffalostories.com

stmarkfrontcover

The book is now available at The Buffalo Stories Bookstore.

It was 20 Years Ago Today: Two Decades in Radio Goes By in a Flash

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

It’s nearly inconceivable to me, but it was twenty years ago today. The letter that started my career at WBEN.

wbenletter1993

As a 15 year old high school sophomore, I would have been happy getting a job at Tops.

But neither Tops nor Bells would hire someone under 16. My birthday wouldn’t come until the end of summer. I needed something to do for the vacation.

I’d been earning money for years already. Helping out at a used book shop. Helping a farmer down the street pick potatoes. Cleaning up cigarette butts and cutting curly fries at a nearby hot dog stand.

I liked working and I liked earning money.

But radio? Why not, I guess I thought.

I had always loved radio, and for the few years my dad’s job took us to Massachusetts, I had a friend whose dad worked in radio. We used to go to work with him when he was the Saturday morning jock on a big station in Boston.

As an 8 year old, my first real taste of living a life in radio came when I had to be ready for Mr. Bob to pick me up at 5am to head into WHDH. No problem. Loved every minute of it.

On those Saturday mornings, My friend Jarin and I would “do production” for the “station” we ran in his basement, made up of real, but cast-away decades-old radio equipment.

When my family moved back to Buffalo, and Jarin’s moved to Maryland, he gave me some of the castaway equipment, and I built a “radio station” of my own in my bedroom.

We’d each “do shows” on cassette and mail them back and forth to one another.

I was 7 or 8 years into that “radio career” when, during my “job search,” I was struck with an idea.

I have no idea from whence the thought of an internship came, but I loved radio, and wanted to work in radio, and that’s what I set out to do.

I opened the phone book, and called every radio station listed, asking for the station manager’s name.

When I say every radio station, I mean every single one. Buffalo. Springville. Lockport. Niagara Falls. Batavia. I just wanted to get in. Anywhere.

With those names in hand, I knew to whom I should address the letters I was about to write on our Tandy 1000EX computer. The one with 256k of memory.

It was quite a few 29 cent stamps.

The letter I wrote had to have been a classic 10th grader essay on my love for radio, and my knowledge of radio equipment, with, of course, some big words thrown in for good measure (because that’s how I’ve rolled for years now.)

So, somewhere between 15 and 20 of these letters went out. And I waited.

And waited.

At the mail box everyday, I’m sure I looked like Ralphie looking for that Little Orphan Annie decoder ring.

If you think about that scene in a Christmas Story, when Ralphie excitedly says “My ring!!” and runs in the house, syrupy violin music comes in to set the scene.

In my mind, that same hokey musical accompaniment plays when I opened the mailbox to find that gleaming white WBEN stationery staring at me, with my own name typewritten on the front.

It was providence. The station I listened to, the station I loved, was the only station to respond. At all. The only letter I got.

Its really almost unfathomable.

Think of some bad sitcom where a kid has a dream about pitching for the Yankees.

The focus is soft and fuzzy around the edges.

The kid’s sitting on the bench when Billy Martin, wearing a blue hat (but without a Yankees emblem) points at him and hands him the ball.

But, instead of the Yankees manager saying, “You’re in, kid!” in a dream, I got the real deal.

There really couldn’t have been anything better than getting a letter from Kevin Keenan inviting me to WBEN. And there was that letter, right there in my hands.

I’ll never forget that first day. Kevin looked like a 1993 radio newsman from central casting; white shirt, tie, suspenders.

We talked about WBEN, and I can’t imagine how hilarious it was to have a 15 year old know your programming inside out, talking about how my alarm clock was set for 6:23am, so I could wake up to the Osgood File.

He loved that I had called “Ask the Mayor” only a few days before, and had talked to him and Mayor Griffin about one of the big issues of the day: The debate over whether Jay Leno or David Letterman should replace Johnny Carson.

I showed him I knew how to put up a reel of tape, and how to bulk erase a cart.

On the tour around the station, I met sports man Rick Maloney, and sat in to watch a Craig Nigrelli/Helen Tederous newscast.

I was floored when Kevin offered me the chance to intern during the summer.

What a summer of triple bus transfers from Orchard Park to North Buffalo… And my dad acting as my radio chauffeur.

Eight or nine hour days, every day, all summer. I learned from everyone I met. Busted my hump with a smile. Loved every minute of it.

When I went to help set up WBEN’s remote at the Fair, Kevin gave me a WBEN t-shirt. I had earned it, and I loved it. I don’t know that I’ve ever been more proud to receive anything.

As I headed back to school, now a well-heeled Orchard Park High School junior, I was offered a weekend board operator job. Best of Limbaugh on Sundays.

Screw Tops. I was pulling in my $4.25 an hour working in radio. My heart is racing right now, thinking about the pride and satisfaction I felt.

I was living the Doogie Howser dream. And it’s continued from there.

That day in Kevin Keenan’s office 20 years ago today was my last job interview.

I’ve been tremendously blessed to have had so many mentors who’ve looked out for me, taught me their secrets, looked out for me, and allowed me to coattail along on their rides.

I feel a lot like a kid who went to bed waiting for one of those radio stations to respond to my letter, and woke up News Director at the radio station I really hoped would answer.

Everything I know about broadcasting, about radio, about TV, about journalism: I was taught either by direct instruction or by example from the tremendous people I’ve worked with at WBEN, Channel 4, and the Empire Sports Network.

I’d love to write about a few of the people, but it just wouldn;t be fair, because the list really has hundreds of names on it. I’m not sure how or why I’ve been so blessed, so lucky, to have so many amazing, talented people take an interest in my life and my career.

There’s not a single task I do every day that doesn’t carry along with it the embedded lessons of those people who’ve taken me in as an apprentice and son.

I’m like an orphan that was raised by the community. So much of any success I’ve had is because so many people own a piece of my success, but it couldn’t have happened without each on of them.

Twenty years of incredible luck and love. I’m not sure it’s fair that one person should be so blessed… But for two full decades now, I’ve been indescribably thankful, and mindful to never waste even a little bit of it.

Reformatted & Updated pages from staffannouncer.com finding a new home at buffalostories.com
Reformatted & Updated pages from staffannouncer.com finding a new home at buffalostories.com