Buffalo, 1913: Ike Slept Here

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

It’s the kind of story that plays out even today, more than a hundred years later.

You’re a college kid getting ready to make the couple-hour trip home for Christmas, when you realize one of your football teammates isn’t going to be able to make the two day trip back home to be with his family—so you invite him home, knowing there’s always extra room at the table.

West Point football, mid-1910s.

A Buffalo version of this story happened in 1913 when Louis Byrne, a cadet and football player at West Point, invited his fellow cadet and football teammate Ike—Yes, that Ike– home for Christmas.

Byrne’s late father was Col. John Byrne—a former Buffalo Police Commissioner and Commandant of the Pan American Expo Police Force. As a somewhat prominent Buffalo family, their comings and goings were fodder for the society pages of the newspapers.

Col. John Byrne being driven around the Pan-Am Grounds.

Cadet Dwight D. Eisenhower’s visit to the Byrne residence on Summit Avenue in the Parkside neighborhood was written up in both The Buffalo Evening News and the Buffalo Morning Express.

Buffalo Evening News Society Page, 1913

Eisenhower’s next visit to Buffalo came 39 years later, when then-General Eisenhower made a speech in the run up to his election as President in 1952.

President Eisenhower in a Packard convertible at the Broadway Fillmore intersection, 1952.

In his later years, one of Byrne’s favorite stories involved bossing Eisenhower around at West Point. A version of the story even made a nationally distributed Associated Press article.

Louis T. Byrne was an upperclassman at West Point in 1914, and one day was giving a plebe a “going over.”

“I suppose you expect to become a general?” Byrnes asked.

“Yes, sir I do, sir,” replied Dwight D. Eisenhower, the plebe.

You can visit the House where Ike stayed… by the way… on this weekend’s Parkside Tour of Homes— It was later owned by Mathias Hens of Hens & Kelly fame.

More on the Tour of Homes: www.parksidebuffalo.org

Harv Moore & Brandy: The Boy Next Door makes a hit record

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Disc Jockeys are known for telling a lot of stories and taking credit for things, but in the case of WECK’s Harv Moore, he doesn’t have to take credit for a hit song we all know because the band is the ready to give him all the credit in the world.

“Brandy” was a big hit for Looking Glass in 1972.

The New Jersey bar band had recorded an album for Epic Records and the first single released from the album flopped.

Eliot Lurie was a member of Looking Glass and the group’s primary songwriter.

After that miserable showing of the group’s first release, he didn’t think there was any chance for his “Brandy.”

“That probably would have been the end of if, had it not been for a disc jockey in Washington, DC named Harv Moore,” Lurie told “The Tennessean in 2016.

Hear the full interview with Eliot Lurie of Looking Glass

Harv Moore was the morning mayor on WPGC in Washington DC from 1963-1975.

Harv at WPGC in 1971.

A promoter for Epic stopped by the WPGC studios with a test pressing of the Brandy single.

“I listened to it and said, ‘Wow, this is a smash. A home run.'”

Harv started playing it once an hour on his show, and then the station, and then all of Washington loved the song– and it was bound for number one on the Billboard charts.

Hear Harv on WPGC from the Cruisin’ series

“After two weeks, they told us the record would be number one, and it was,” said Lurie.

It’s not often in a career– even a 60 year career like Harv’s– to be able to play a part in making a hit.

“I always felt I had a pretty good ear for music, hearing new stuff. It was a big thrill to see that go to number one in Billboard Magazine, it was a nationwide hit,” said Harv. “I got a nice gold record from Epic Records for it.”

Just a few years later, in 1975, Harv followed his boss at WPGC to WYSL in Buffalo, and he’s been here ever since.

Harv Moore, WECK, 2018

“Buffalo’s my home,” said Harv, getting ready to play another song, sitting behind the mic at WECK.

 

“The Drury goal” and the elevator dent

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

One of the most memorable moments in Sabres History,  11 years ago today. Game 5, Sabres and Rangers. Jay Moran had already announced, “last minute in regulation time” over the PA. The Sabres were down by a goal.

Then this happened:

“The Drury Goal” made for one of the my most memorable moments in covering sports.

I was in HSBC Arena covering the game, but I didn’t get to see the goal live.

Reporters have to be down in the dressing room/interview room area when the game ends, so we start leaving the pressbox and getting on the elevators with a few minutes left in regulation.

Especially for a playoff game, there are maybe 30 people crammed onto a cargo elevator with a little TV in the corner with the game on. I happened to be jammed next to two of the Rangers players who were scratched from the lineup.

As the elevator very slowly groaned down the five or six levels, I was close enough to hear them talk about their plans for visiting with friends and family during the next round of the playoffs. The win was about to put the Rangers up 3-2 in the series, with the teams heading to New York City for Game 6.

But that quickly changed.

When Drury scored that goal, the elevator shook with the rest of the building. There’s no cheering in the pressbox, but there was an audible bleat of excitement as Jeanneret’s amazing mindless call blared out of the tinny speaker on the tiny TV in the corner of the elevator.

The only noise that wasn’t excitement came from the foot of that New York Rangers player, whose body pressed up against mine when he made the motion to backwards kick the wall of the elevator with his heel– leaving a dent that was there at least through the following season.

That little dent made me smile every time I saw it. The Rangers didn’t make it to the next round of the playoffs. One of my favorite moments in 20 years of covering sports.

Sabres #23 Chris Drury goal with #19 Tim Connolly, during the third period of their game at the HSBC arena in Buffalo, Friday May 4, 2007. (Buffalo News photo/ Mark MULVILLE)

Dancing, swimming, and of course the rides: Highlights of a trip to Crystal Beach

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

If you’re over 40 and grew up in Buffalo, chances are pretty good you didn’t need an ad in the newspaper to entice you to beg for a trip to Crystal Beach. Yet from Memorial Day to Labor Day, from the 1940s to the 1980s, those ads were there, almost every day.

Here’s a look back at a few of those ads.

1944:

The “100 thrilling midway amusements” were among the most highly touted aspects of a visit to Crystal Beach during the years of World War II, but even more than the rides– in bold letters, bathing and dancing were the kind of fun that must have spoke to the throngs of WNYers who’d make the regular trip to Canada.

Today, we make that trip across the Peace Bridge– and some did it that way in 1944, too. But the “extra special, grand” way to get to Crystal Beach was a 50¢ ride across the Lake aboard the Steamer Canadiana.

This was no mere boat ride. Hopping aboard the Crystal Beach boat at the foot of Main Street (in a spot behind Key Bank Center in today’s geography) was where the party started, lead by live music by such popular Buffalo bands as Harold Austin’s Orchestra (who was also very popular at The Dellwood Ballroom during Bob Wells’ Hi Teen dance program on WEBR Radio.)

When it came to dancing to live music on the rollicking waves of  Lake Erie, getting there (and back home) really was half the fun of going to Crystal Beach when you took the Canadiana.

1960:

The excitement of 5-cent rides at Crystal Beach was almost too much to bear. You paid per ride at Crystal Beach back then, and hearing that 24 rides cost only a nickel sounded like just about the most fabulous way anyone could think of to spend the last few days of summer.

That is, of course, until you read the small print — and realized your roll of nickels might not take you as far as you thought.

Nickel Day applied to 24 of the parks “riding devices.” The best rides were still cheaper than usual — but only half-price. The Comet, the Giant Coaster, the Wild Mouse, Magic Carpet, The Roto-Jet, Scrambler, Auto Scooter, The Old Mill, even roller skating — those more popular thrill-inducing rides were going to cost you more than just 5 cents.

But at least the bathhouse and beach equipment rates were also at half price, too.

1975:

Buffalo’s most fondly remembered amusement park broke down exactly what made the place great in this ad published July 1, 1975– likely prompting some last minute begging to do what came only naturally to generations of Buffalonians– spend our nation’s birthday in a foreign country eating sugar waffles and drinking loganberry.

The Comet Coaster— towering 105 feet– one of the top 10 in the world.

24 major adult rides— featuring the twirling TWISTER, the fantastic FLITZER, the mighty MONSTER, and the swinging CHAIR-O-PLANE.

12 rides for the kids— try the all new AUTO SKOOTER and GLASS HOUSE.

And… Dr. Miracles’ Wondercade, the Shootin’ Shack, Cafe International.

Swimming— 1/4 mile of clean, patrolled beach and sparkling water.

Free Picnic Grove— Covered sheltering for 3,500 people.

Games, Bingo & Souvenir Boutique

No admission charge— Ride what you like, like what you ride. 60 ways to be alive in ’75.

Buffalo in the 70’s: Everyone seemed to love The Ground Round

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Through the 1970s and 1980s, The Ground Round was a popular casual dining spot with locations at Seneca and Thruway Malls and on Niagara Falls Boulevard. Created by Howard Johnson’s, it may have been the first place you threw peanut shells on the floor and kids ate for a penny a pound on Tuesday and Thursday nights.

The Seneca Mall Ground Round was two years into its run when the Bills opened Rich Stadium in 1973. Many fans sought ways to avoid having to drive into Orchard Park– Ground Round offered a park and ride solution. (Buffalo Stories archives)

Buffalo’s first Ground Round opened outside the Seneca Mall in 1971.  “The Ground Round,” explained General Manager Burton Sack, “is a fun-type family restaurant featuring a player piano, nostalgic wall decorations from the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s, free peanuts on all tables, beer by the mug and pitcher, and free toys and games for the youngsters.”

Buffalo Stories archives

Five years later, The Howard Johnson’s restaurant at Sheridan and Delaware in Tonawanda was converted into a Ground Round, as was the Cross Bow Restaurant on Sheridan Drive in Amherst.

Buffalo Stories archives

In 1989, there were 215 Ground Round restaurants in 22 states– six in the Buffalo area. Those local stores were located at 3545 Delaware Ave. in Tonawanda; 208 Seneca Mall in West Seneca; 8529 Niagara Falls Blvd. in Niagara Falls; Thruway Mall and 1445 French Road, both in Cheektowaga; and 3180 Sheridan Drive and 7566 Transit Road, both in Amherst.

The Seneca Mall location was the first to open and the first to be closed– and then bulldozed– as the Seneca Mall was demolished starting in 1994. By the end of the year, half of the  remaining stores were sold to become the home of Kenny Rogers Roasters chicken restaurants.

This photo shows the last Buffalo area Ground Round location on Niagara Falls Blvd. in the Falls in 2004. (Buffalo Stories photo)
Buffalonians love to remember The Ground Round, but fish fry from a national chain? (Buffalo Stories archives)

Amherst turns 200!

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Today is Amherst’s 200th Birthday! It’s official because it says so on Wikipedia:

The town of Amherst was created by the State of New York on April 10, 1818; named after Lord Jeffrey Amherst. Amherst was formed from part of the town of Buffalo (later the city of Buffalo), which had previously been created from the town of Clarence. Timothy S. Hopkins was elected the first supervisor of the town of Amherst in 1819. Part of Amherst was later used to form the town of Cheektowaga in 1839.

Here are a few of our looks back at the Town of Amherst over the years:

What it looked like Wednesday: The Village of Williamsville, 1933

Torn-down Tuesday: Ice cold beers in Williamsville, 1888

What It Looked Like Wednesday: Main Street, Williamsville, 1960s

Buffalo in the ’50s: The state’s first McDonald’s on Niagara Falls Boulevard

Torn-Down Tuesday: Henry’s Hamburgers, Sheridan at the Boulevard

Buffalo in the ’70s: Twin Fair is closed on Sundays, but Two Guys is open for business

 

“Tony Krew” and his accordion provide the soundtrack Broadway Market

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Listen:

His smiling face and happy accordion are one of the great welcoming sights of the Easter Season at the Broadway Market.

Steve Cichon and Tony Krupski at the Broadway Market during the 2018 Easter season.

And with his Easter season appearances in newspaper and social media photos and all over television newscasts, Tony Krupski has really become the face of the Broadway Market.

“Many people tell me that, yes,” said Krupski last week at the market.

Krupski has been playing accordion for 60 years, famously for his family’s band, The Krew Brothers Orchestra and for Full Circle. Playing at the market is really source of pride.

“I don’t take it for granted. I’ve been playing all my life. But the Broadway Market– it rejuvenates the entire year. I’m happy to be a part of it,” says Krupski.

So now as his playing creates new memories and a connection to the past at the Broadway Market, he’s reminded of his own memories of the place.

Tony Krupski entertains holiday shoppers at the Broadway Market with his smile and accordion.(Buffalo Stories/Steve Cichon photo)

“I remember coming here to the Broadway Market as a youngster,” says Krupski. “My parents would bring me here and we’d shop in the market. In the back, the hucksters selling fruits, vegetables and chickens. It just brings back a lot of memories, and here I am, years later, enjoying and playing here.”

Tony honored me with a command performance of my favorite Krew Brothers’ song, The Buffalo Polka.

Thruway toll booths: More than 60 years of passing through that same little hut

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

For six decades, a trip to Grand Island has included passing through one of these blue sheds– the same toll booths have stood at the entrances to the Grand Island bridges and all along the Thruway.

We’re looking back at Thruway toll booths as we say good bye to the Grand Island booths with the introduction of cashless tolls to the Island this Thursday.

The I-190 under construction on Grand Island in 1955. (Buffalo Stories archives)

When the Thruway was built throughout the 1950’s, it was celebrated as a marvel of modern engineering– and written about in places like National Geographic magazine.

People were actually happy to pay the tolls– as the Thruway cut the time to drive to New York City, for example, by 300%.

Paying tolls in 1956 at “the Buffalo entrance” of the New York State Thruway, as appeared in National Geographic. (Buffalo Stories archives)

Driving through toll booths were even something you wanted to tell the folks back home about– There were postcards all along the Thruway, like these two from the Buffalo area for the Williamsville tolls and the 90/190 interchange, the old Ogden tolls.

The last weekend of the Grand Island tolls, March 2018. (Buffalo Stories photo)

And back in 2015, we celebrated a decade without the Black Rock and Ogden tolls…

 

Ah Black Rock and Ogden, we hardly knew ye. The new year will mark a decade since the City of Buffalo had toll booths at its northern (Black Rock) and southern (Ogden) borders along the I-190.

For generations of Buffalonians, it was a bit of a sport to toss the quarter, and later two quarters, into the EXACT CHANGE baskets at the now demolished 190 toll booths.

The tolls were supposed to come down in when the highway was paid for in the late 80’s– but to the outrage of WNYers, you had to pay a toll to get to downtown Buffalo. The outrage built to a crescendo in 2006 when the toll booths were removed.

For some tollbooth memories we dip into the Buffalo Stories archives for these shots.

dannythruway(1)

Its WKBW-TV Channel 7’s zany weatherman Danny Neaverth standing at the Ogden Tolls sometime in the early to mid 80’s.

dannythruway(2)

This story was all about how fast people could drive through the “Exact Change” booths, and still get the coins into the basket.

dannythruway(3)

Remembering Jackson Armstrong

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Yo LEEEEEEEADER, Jackson Armstrong, died ten years ago today, March 22, 2008.

Jack from inside the white NUMBER 1 WKBW Album (Buffalo Stories archives)

Today we remember radio’s original motormouth, who spent time at a string of many of the biggest radio stations around the country.

The KB jocks: Sandy Beach, Don Berns, Jack Armstrong (standing). Casey Piotrowski, Jack Sheridan, Danny Neaverth, Bob McRae (sitting) From the KB 1 Brown album. (Buffalo Stories archives)

Here in Buffalo, we remember him from his time doing evenings at WKBW in the early 70s and then afternoons when KB was playing oldies again starting in 2003.

Here’s some classic Jack Armstrong on KB:

Jack and the Beatles (Buffalo Stories archives)
A southern boy, Jack sometimes needed help during Buffalo winters. (Buffalo Stories archives)
Cowboy Jack Armstrong.

The accused priests of Buffalo– photos from the 1983 Diocese Directory

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

It’s with great sadness that I’ve spent several hours creating this post today.

When I bought a copy of the 1983 Priests’ Pictorial Directory, I did it with a smile. Flipping through the pages, there are dozens of men who’ve had a positive and wonderful impact on my life.

Instead of sharing the warm and fond memories of the hundreds of men of God in this booklet, I’m drawn today to make sure that the airing out of the deepest recesses of evil within the Catholic church here in Buffalo is as complete as possible.

Of the 42 men named by the Diocese today, 38 of them had photos in this directory. Those photos appear below.

I remember one of these men regularly visiting my Kindergarten classroom. I regularly attended Mass offered by another. It makes me sad and sick– but healing occurs in the light not in the dark.

Here are photos of those accused. May the light shining upon it bring healing to all those who feel the pain of this horrific chapter in the history of the Catholic church.

John R. Aurelio (died 2009)

Donald W. Becker

Robert J. Biesinger (died 2012)

James H. Cotter (died 1991)

Donald S. Fafinski

Douglas F. Faraci

Fred G. Fingerle (died 2002)

Michael R. Freeman (died 2010)

Joseph P. Friel (died 1995)

Mark M. Friel

John P. Hajduk

Michael J. Harrington (died 1989)

Brian M. Hatrick

Fr. James P. Hayes was left off the initial list and mistaken for another priest with a similar name three days later,

Louis J. Hendricks (died 1990)

J. Grant Higgins (died 2016)

Francis T. Hogan (died 2010)

Fred D. Ingalls

Florian A. Jasinski (died 1983)

Gerald C. Jasinski

Richard P. Judd (died 1988)

Timothy J. Kelley

Thomas L. Kemp

Richard J. Keppeler (died 2011)

Bernard M. Mach (died 2004)

Loville N. Martlock (died 2014)

Thomas J. McCarthy

Basil A. Ormsby (died 1997)

Norbert F. Orsolits

Martin L. Pavlock

Roy K. Ronald (died 2013)

Joseph E. Schieder (died 1996)

Gerard A. Smyczynski (died 1999)

James A. Spielman

Edward J. Walker (died 2002)

William G. Ward (died 2008)

William F. J. White (died 2016) Robert W. Wood

Here is the complete list released by the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo– 42 priests, with dates of their deaths in parenthesis:

John R. Aurelio (2009)

Donald W. Becker

David M. Bialkowski

Robert J. Biesinger (2012)

James H. Cotter (1991)

Donald S. Fafinski

Douglas F. Faraci

Fred G. Fingerle (2002)

Michael R. Freeman (2010)

Joseph P. Friel (1995)

Mark M. Friel

Thomas G. Gresock

John P. Hajduk

Michael J. Harrington (1989)

Brian M. Hatrick

James F. Hayes (1988)

Louis J. Hendricks (1990)

J. Grant Higgins (2016)

Francis T. Hogan (2010)

Fred D. Ingalls

Florian A. Jasinski (1983)

Gerald C. Jasinski

Richard P. Judd (1988)

Timothy J. Kelley

Thomas L. Kemp

Richard J. Keppeler (2011)

John D. Lewandowski (1982)

Bernard M. Mach (2004)

Loville N. Martlock (2014)

Thomas J. McCarthy

Basil A. Ormsby (1997)

Norbert F. Orsolits

Martin L. Pavlock

Roy K. Ronald (2013)

Joseph E. Schieder (1996)

Gerard A. Smyczynski (1999)

James A. Spielman

Chester S. Stachewicz

Edward J. Walker (2002)

William G. Ward (2008)

William F. J. White (2016)

Robert W. Wood.