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 as you scroll through these stories or search the collected works of one of WNY’s most prolific pop culture historians of the last decade for something specific…
He was living in the home built by his German ancestors in North Tonawanda — a log cabin, in fact — and when it burned to the ground, the coroner said that Ernst Wendt died of “excitement.”
The log cabin was on the land farmed by his father, Christian Martin Wendt, who came to Niagara County from Prussia in 1843. Ernst Wendt was born five years later in 1848.
The William Street landmark was destroyed after it was set ablaze by children playing with fireworks.
“Though he held many valuable acres on the outskirts of town,” reported The Tonawanda Evening News account of his death, “Wendt preferred his hermit career.”
The following night, The Tonawanda News spared few feelings in announcing Wendt’s funeral plans.
The funeral of Ernst Wendt of Martinsville, who dropped dead at the Lang Hotel on William Street on Wednesday night, will be held from the Sahr home at No. 431 Robinson street tomorrow afternoon. Burial will be in Elmlawn.
Three sons, William, Frederick and Martin, and two daughters, Mrs. Otto
Schultz and Mrs. Frederick Sahr, all of North Tonawanda, survived him.
Lt. Simon O’Donnell, a native of Ireland, lived at 268 Elk St. — which today would be 268 South Park Ave., if it were still standing. And, if still standing, the building would be across South Park from the Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino.
O’Donnell was assigned to the Ohio Street Firehouse and to the fireboat George R. Potter — one of three fireboats working in Buffalo at the time. When he died 105 years ago this week, in July, 1910, he was one of the city’s most popular firefighters.
After camping out near Elmwood and the city line in three canvas-covered wagons, 110 years ago today– July 7, 1910– “a band of gypsies” with 13 children, “10 monkeys, seven horses, and three bears” were escorted out of Buffalo by two mounted policemen.
This grainy 1975 photo was published to show the progress being made on repairs to the Skyway, but looking at the area with the eyes of 2015, 40 years of progress and change couldn’t be clearer.
Missing from the photo are the 1979 Adams Mark Hotel, and its neighbors WNED-TV and WKBW-TV. To the left of the Skyway, toward the top, you find an empty field where there is now Canalside.
The Aud and the Donovan Office Building stand just to the right of the Skyway at the top of the page. The Aud site is now home to the canals used for skating and boating. The bones of the Donovan Building live on inside the Phillips Lytle building.
For decades, city planners wrang their hands over the Webster block. In 1975, it was a parking lot, which it remained until only three years ago, when the Pegulas broke ground on HarborCenter. Also not in this photo — because it was 20 years from being built — is First Niagara Center.
News Food Critic Janice Okun spoke with the director of the Cooperative Extension’s Sea Grant advisory program, who offered some preparation ideas beyond pan frying and whose office was looking for ways to help Buffalo eat those fish you’d probably just want to throw back.
Pioneer announcer and journalist Lou Douglas has died. He was 85.
The Korean War vet came to WBEN-AM/FM/TV in 1957 and his unflappable, smart, level-headed approach to news anchoring and interviewing was part of the fabric of the station for 30 years. Douglas was considered by most as the dean of broadcast journalists.
In his early years as a junior announcer at The Buffalo Evening News stations, television still played second fiddle to AM radio. Many of his early assignments were on Channel 4, including regular 6pm walks from WBEN’s Statler studios to The Buffalo Evening News’ building near the foot of Main Street. There, he’d read the 6 o’clock news as prepared by The News’ staff, broadcast–as was announced at the beginning of each newscast– “From the Editorial Floor of the Buffalo Evening News.”
Douglas would continue to appear as a reporter, host, and announcer on TV through the 1970s, but he is best remembered for his work at WBEN Radio.
It was his voice that anchored coverage of President John F. Kennedy’s visit to Buffalo in 1962. He broadcast from inside the prison complex during the Attica uprising. Living in Kenmore, his home was closest to the WBEN’s Elmwood Avenue studios– which meant extended duty for Lou during the Blizzard of 1977.
He always sounded even-keeled on the air, and was the same way in the newsroom, where he was remembered for reading the Wall Street Journal and never being afraid to pick up the phone to calmly make the most outlandish and seemingly impossible interview requests for his afternoon and evening interview spots.
In spanning three decades, Douglas really had two separate careers; one as a staff announcer, and one as a journalist. Through the 1950s and 1960s, the people you saw on Channel 4 and heard on WBEN were announcers– and only announcers. Union rules dictated that they could not and would not write their own news scripts or conduct news interviews or gather information.
By the mid-1970s, those rules had changed, and most of the “announcers” who had been bringing Buffalo news and weather since the ’40s and ’50s were gone. Not Douglas, though– his abilities as a staff announcer complimented his ability to gather the news, interview the newsmakers, and write his own newscasts.
He retired from WBEN in 1987, and spent a brief period at WWKB Radio a few years later before retiring for good.
In 2010, I spoke to Lou about his days in radio, and the possibility of the Statler building facing the wrecking ball. This interview wasn’t meant for broadcast, but is wonderful none the less. That interview, along with some career highlights, are listed for playback below. Please feel free to use any of the audio or photos in the celebration of Lou’s life in any media.
Steve with Lou Douglas, 2010:
WBEN’s Election 85 coverage: Kevin Keenan, Lou Douglas, Brian Meyer, Mark Hamrick, and John Murphy
WBEN News with Lou Douglas, 1973. Attica uprising, will Mayor Sedita resign?
WBEN News with Lou Douglas, January 1977. The Blizzard of ’77.
WBEN’s Coverage of JFK’s Visit to Buffalo, 1962. Lou Douglas live from Niagara Square.