Buffalo in 1910: ‘Furnishing Buffalo with the finest milk in the world’

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Imagine just-harvested milk sitting in barrels on farms, loaded onto uncovered carts to be taken to the hot boxcars of the nearest train.

That’s how milk was served in Buffalo 110 years ago, and it’s no wonder that such milk served as a breeding ground for strep, diphtheria, scarlet fever and other maladies.

While the new procedures implemented to keep milk a bit cooler hardly seem like enough by today’s standards, they were big advances in providing the city with healthier milk.

From July 10, 1910:

July 10, 1910: North Tonawanda man dies of ‘excitement’ after his log cabin home burns

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

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.

Buffalo in 1910: Popular First Ward fireboat lieutenant is dead

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

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.

Buffalo in the 80s: Get half-off on film developing at Fotomat

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

In 1980, there were 44 Fotomat locations in Buffalo. Not all had the iconic tiny stand-alone blue booth with a yellow roof, but many did.

By 1990, 23 Fotomat locations were still in operation in Buffalo, but changes in film developing technology were making the stand-alone booths — and the promise of next-day developing — obsolete.

In 1992, 13 former Fotomat kiosks became Wiper Check booths, selling and installing Buffalo-made Trico wiper blades.

Buffalo in the ’70s: It’s a grainy photo, but waterfront progress couldn’t be clearer

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

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.

WBEN’s calm, steady voice of intelligence and reason: Lou Douglas 1930-2015

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Pioneer announcer and journalist Lou Douglas has died. He was 85.

loudouglasheadshotThe 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.”

LouDouglas1971ch4

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.

newsbooth

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.

WBEN's staff announcers of the late 1950s. Douglas is second from the left, standing between Jack Ogilvie and Van Miller.
WBEN’s staff announcers of the late 1950s. Douglas is second from the left, standing between Jack Ogilvie and Van Miller.

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.

Lou with the WBEN newsteam of the mid 1980s.
Lou with the WBEN newsteam of the mid 1980s.

He retired from WBEN in 1987, and spent a brief period at WWKB Radio a few years later before retiring for good.

LouToWBEN1957
The Courier-Express welcomes Lou in 1957.

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:

LouOnThePhone
in the WBEN newsroom, 1986

WBEN’s Election 85 coverage: Kevin Keenan, Lou Douglas, Brian Meyer, Mark Hamrick, and John Murphy

Election coverage, mid 1970s with Kevin Gordon
Election coverage, mid 1970s with Kevin Gordon

WBEN News with Lou Douglas, 1973. Attica uprising, will Mayor Sedita resign?

Lou-Douglas-Jim-McLaughlin-
Lou Douglas (back) and Jim McLaughlin (through the window) hosting WBEN’s Newsday. Both covered the Attica uprising as radio reporters, Lou for WBEN and Jim for WKBW before coming to WBEN in the late 70s.

WBEN News with Lou Douglas, January 1977. The Blizzard of ’77.

louChannel4
Hosting on Channel 4

WBEN’s Coverage of JFK’s Visit to Buffalo, 1962. Lou Douglas live from Niagara Square.


interview2interview1

For immediate release