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

 

Buffalo in the ’70s: Tolls rise to 20 cents at Black Rock and Ogden

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Forty years ago today, July 1, 1975,  the tolls at Black Rock and Ogden crept up from 15 cents to 20 cents, leaving many motorists searching their seat cushions for a nickel — and one kind Thruway employee ready to help.

Another now-useless skill that thousands of Western New Yorkers perfected was the slow-down to 10 or 15 miles per hour to toss our exact change into the plastic basket of the toll booth.

The advent of EZPass diminished the importance of this skill, which for some was left entirely in the Stone Age when the Thruway Authority removed tolls from the downtown Buffalo portion of I-190 in 2006.

Buffalo in the ’70s: Supermarket beverage deals for the 4th of July

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Both Super Duper and B-Kwik were offering great savings on discount pop and beer 40 years ago this week for Independence Day 1975. So what beverages would have been stocked up for the upcoming holiday celebrations?

Koehler Beer six-packs were less than a buck at B-Kwik. (Buffalo Stories archives)

Koehler was produced in Erie, Pa., and became a local cheapo favorite after the closure of Buffalo’s Simon Pure and Iroquois plants in the early ’70s. Koehler was last produced in 1978.

Also at B-kwik, Hy-Top pop was eight cans for a buck. 

Another longtime favorite of Buffalo cheapskates– RC Cola– was also on sale: eight 16-ounce glass bottles for $1.

Over at all 30 Super Duper locations across WNY, it was Schaefer Beer six-packs for a buck and eight cans of Red and White pop for $1.


Buffalo in the 70s: Meet Snoopy and Dave Thomas at Hengerer’s

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

All the youngsters were invited to Hengerer’s to meet Rocketship 7’s Dave Thomas and Snoopy to promote the upcoming Peanuts film “A Boy Named Charlie Brown.”

No word on whether the Sweetlys, Mr. Beeper or Promo the Robot would be attending.

June 2, 1930: Remembering ‘Deco’-ration Day

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Before there was Memorial Day on the last Monday of May, there was Decoration Day on May 30.

Perhaps more true to the meaning of Memorial Day, Americans would take to cemeteries and care for, maintain, and decorate the graves of those who died in service to our country.

While social media is filled each year with the laments of those who are disgusted by the commercialization of Memorial Day, the concept, sadly, is nothing new.

As far back as 85 years ago, the Deco Restaurant chain — a Buffalo institution — was playing off the name Deco and Decoration Day.

Hoping to better honor Buffalo’s Tomb of Unknown Soldiers

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

During the War of 1812, about 300-400 soldiers died on what is now the Delaware Park golf course.

an 1895 account of what happened at The Mound in the Meadow, and the scuttled plans of Elam Jewett for a memorial

There was no battle there, though the men were in Buffalo in defense of our nation’s borders. The soldiers, mostly from southern states like Maryland and Virginia, died as they wintered on the large open area that would become “the park meadow” and the golf course.

These soldiers came to Western New York to defend our nation wearing light summer uniforms and open ended tents. They took on the worst of Buffalo winter with few blankets, fewer boots, and very little food. Most of the food that did make it this far out to the American frontier was rancid.

“Camp Disease,” probably cholera or dysentery or a combination of both fueled by starvation and frost bite, killed this men in an unimaginable way.

Burial explanation, 1895

The ground was frozen, so the dead were buried in either shallow graves or simply piled in tents. When spring came, a large hole was dug… the dead buried in a mass grave.

Buffalo’s Tomb of the Unknowns.

If you don’t know about this, you’re not alone. Through the years, many attempts have been made to call attention to this sacred site— the very reason for Memorial Day.

mound 1896 memory

 

If this were a Civil War mass grave from 50 years later, Delaware Park would be a National Park and it’s story known around the world. The War of 1812 isn’t as sexy historically speaking, so these men lie mostly forgotten.

 

Mound 1895 account-2A large boulder, placed in 1896, marks the spot of the grave. The fact that its in the middle of the golf course means, again, it’s forgotten.

It was hoped the monument could be dedicated on Remembrance Day in 1896, but it wasn’t ready– and was dedicated on July 4, 1896 instead.

Old Newspapers
Old Newspapers

Sadly, through the years, the site– and therefore the memory of the sacrifice it represents– has been stripped of more attention raising features.

A flagpole disappeared in the first half of the 20th century.

This 1955 article from the Courier-Express shows a pair of Civil War parrott rifles on either side of the stone marker and a historical marker pointing to the site from Ring Road. The cannon disappeared in the 80s, the marker some time before then.

More needs to be done to honor the sacrifice of these men who gave their lives and now are spending eternity in the midst of our city.

Can the historical marker be replaced? Can we as a community build awareness and try to bring more honor to this many times over forgotten sacred site?

Read more about the history of The Mound in the Meadow and our 2011 commemoration at the site: http://www.staffannouncer.com/meadow.htm