The car dealers of 1950’s Buffalo

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

We’re going back 63 years here, but these photos show that on many levels, life was simpler not all that long ago.

Two generations ago, you could walk to the car dealership in your neighborhood to purchase your next ride. If you wanted to haggle over the 9 or 10 cars they had, you went in and talked with the guy whose name is on the sign. The buildings are just regular city buildings, many of which still stand today, and you’d never guess were once car dealerships.

It’s just so much different than what we think of in 2013.

Although most of these photos are likely from the mid ’40s or earlier, each of these photos was taken from a collection of ads dated 1950.

The best thing about every single one of these places? None of them are HUUUUGE.

DiBello1950

DiBello Pontiac 1275 Main Street. Its facade is bricked over, but it’s still standing.

DonAllen1950

Don Allen Chevy, 2585 Main at Fillmore. Now the site of an Eckerd. I mean Rite Aid.

Gillen1950

Gillen Pontiac, the only dealer shown outside of the city, at 3445 Delaware Avenue in Tonawanda. Until recently the home of Premier Liquor, it’s now Len-Co Lumber.

LBSmith1950

LB Smith Ford, 1212 Abbott Rd at City Line. Recently abandoned after years as a Ford dealership, the buildings still stand next to LB Smith Plaza, home of Hens & Kelly.

Maxson1950

Maxson Cadillac-Pontiac, 2421 Main St at Jewett. Built as a Pierce-Arrow dealership, Caddys were sold here for about 65 years. Has been a bank for the last decade.

Rooney1950

Rooney Nash, 2705 Bailey St. Neither the car make nor the building have made it. This was where the gas station near the police station is.

TaggartSchutz1950

Taggart Schutz Pontiac 1294 Seneca St. building is boarded up and painted white, but still stands.

TaylorOBrien1950

Taylor-O’Brien Ford, 2837 Bailey Ave, Buffalo. Building still stands with large cement awning next to the 33

AAA1950

Not a car dealer, but interesting old car photos, and AAA– which still does all these things (except the crisp white jumpsuit wearing.)

This page originally appeared at TrendingBuffalo.com

 

@#$%!! Winter already?!?

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

I’m not the biggest fan of winter, and I hope it’s a mild one. I’ll take warm over cold any day of the week.

While sometimes I might say I do, I don’t hate winter. Winter is part of our deal here in Buffalo, so I accept it and try to make the most of it.

What really bothers me– what inspires something closer to hate– is the speed with which it all seems to go by.

A very artistic, instagrammy look at Steve Cichon’s snow blower
A very artistic, instagrammy look at Steve Cichon’s snow blower

In the last week, I made a pot of scratch chicken noodle soup, gassed up and started the snow blower, and got the furnace ready and turned on the heat. Mundane chores that bother some people, but for me it’s not that chore, so much as it’s just that it literally could have been last week that I was grilling on the 4th of July, sharpening the lawn mower blade for the season, and getting the fans out of the attic.

Really. All of that could have been yesterday. But right now, I’m wearing 4 layers as I type in the back bedroom of our drafty old house, thinking that I won’t be warm until May. Again, it’s not the layers as much as it seems perfectly reasonable that I should be wearing shorts to take the dog for a walk today, not pulling out the peacoat for its 21st Buffalo winter.

It’s not that I don’t stop to smell the roses. I do, literally. I love nature, and enjoy taking it in. But the seasonal differentiation device in my brain is like an old VCR constantly flashing 12:00. I have no good sense of time, which means time is always flying by.

Flying by, in fact, like a tractor trailer on a dark road in the middle of the night.

When you see those little pinholes of light in the rear view mirror coming over that hill way behind you, it seems like that little spec of yellow might never catch up to you.

Daydream (or night dream, as it were) for a moment, and all of the sudden, that truck is right next to you, loudly rattling past, whooshing and reeking of diesel for about 6 seconds. Then it’s tail lights, until they get small and disappear– Just as two more little white pin pricks of light appear in your rear view mirror again.

Not just seasons, but all the things of life. All that time looking forward to something, only to have it whoosh by and turn into tail lights before you even realize it was there.

I’m not sure if it comes with age or if it’s because we change the way we live as we age, but it wasn’t always this way. I find myself being one of those annoying people who have tell people who are younger than me to take the time to enjoy… time. I don’t put it quite that way, but that’s what I mean. And make sure you enjoy time while standing somewhere other than my lawn.

I wouldn’t want to return to youth. The wisdom and knowledge of age roundly outweigh the creaks, groans, and grays for me.

The one thing I’d love to get back is time that goes by like a Countrytime Lemonade commercial– with twangy music, hazy sunshine hanging just above the horizon, a breeze gently swaying the willow tree,and the feeling that none of it will ever end.

This page originally appeared at TrendingBuffalo.com

Some of the best of 80’s Buffalo

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

These are the kinds of thing that litter my hard drive and my attic.

This is what it means to be a “Buffalo pop culture historian,” having this sort of junk at my fingertips. And if I don’t regularly share images like these, people stop calling me a “historian” and start calling me a “hoarder.”

So these are from the Buffalo Stories/staffannouncer.com Archives.

If you survived the decade of the 1980’s in Buffalo, New York, you very well may remember:

goldcircleIn most locations, Gold Circle took over Buffalo area Twin Fair stores in 1982. Gold Circle stores closed in 1988, with many becoming Hills, unless there was already a Hills location nearby (such as on Lake Avenue in Blasdell.)
tricogoal copyRemember when the Trico ad in the boards lit up when the Sabres scored a goal at the Aud? Windshield wipers were invented in Buffalo, and produced in 3 various plants around the city, until Trico closed up shop and moved to Mexico. Also, remember when the Sabres scored goals?

 

gennycreamposterbigA field full of plants growing cans of delicious Genny Cream Ale? Don’t tell me you haven’t dreamed this dream. People will come, Ray… People will most definitely come.

 

chamberofcommerce82This is the Buffalo Chamber of Commerce in 1982. The best part is, the “Talking Proud” hook rug hanging on the wall might not even be in the top 5 most 80’s things about this photo.

 

crystalbeachsuperduperGet your discount Crystal Beach tickets at Super Duper. That’s exciting, but the real excitement, in retrospect, was the fact that you could very likely cross the Peace Bridge by answering one question with “US,” and then getting a “go ahead,” from a customs guy.

 

irvdietpepsi copyThis 1981 Irv Weinstein photo has a strong 1970’s look about it, but the early 80’s had a strong 70’s look about them. For some people in WNY, the 70’s ended and the 80’s began some time in 1992.

This page originally appeared at TrendingBuffalo.com

BREAKING: Trader Joe’s Inspires Ambivalence

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

This past weekend, we had visits to several box stores on our to-do list.

Since it was Sunday morning, and all of these box stores are each right next to a “box restaurant” where you can get bread-y things for breakfast, we decided to get our Niagara Falls Boulevard visit out of the way before most Williamsville soccer moms are awake to clog the roads and Canadians are still stuck in bridge traffic.

Steve's look inside the Niagara Falls Blvd. Trader Joe's the weekend it opened.
Steve’s look inside the Niagara Falls Blvd. Trader Joe’s the weekend it opened.

There was no line, but I’m not sure the fire marshal would like home many people were packed inside Trader Joe’s this weekend.

There was no line, but I’m not sure the fire marshal would like how many people were packed inside Trader Joe’s this weekend.

We were able to quickly grab what we needed at three stores, and, well, we just happened to be in the plaza that plays host to the most exciting thing to happen to Western New York since Krispy Kreme opened here.

There were parking spots right in front of the store, and there weren’t any Real Housewives of Snyder clawing at each other in a line in front of the store– in fact, there was no line– so we tried Trader Joe’s, especially since we needed to buy something for dinner anyway.

It’s a grocery store. It has a trendy feel, too trendy for my liking, but so does Wegmans where I shop twice a week. They had what I needed to make chicken soup, and they had generic Cheerios on sale. Fine.

There’s my opinion, but people have been all over the map on Trader Joe’s.

They have some interesting inexpensive items. They have some interesting super expensive items. The clerks are either “nice and helpful” or “annoying and too perky” depending on your point of view.

The meat and vegetables were pretty reasonably priced, but you couldn’t possibly do all your shopping there, because the trendy TP looks like its made out of pine cones.

Why do I have to form an opinion on a stupid niche grocery store? We have become a society where you have to love or hate something, and then argue the crap out of why you feel that way.

It’s a store. Some stuff I’d buy, some I wouldn’t. In the 25 minutes my wife and I were in there, three different employees told me they liked my bow tie with buffaloes on it, and three also asked if I needed any help. Based on that, I think it’s fair to say the staff in general is nice, annoying, too perky and helpful.

I just can’t get worked up either way… over a freaking grocery store.

Somehow though, in my ambivalence for TJ’s, as the insiders call it, I feel like less of a man. Like I’ve showed up to a Superbowl party to “just root for a good game.”

“Just pick a team, Sally,” I feel some alpha-male douche snarling at me, and he wants to know about cookie butter and what my feelings are over a lack of “Two-Buck-Chuck” because of our state laws governing wine sales in grocery stores. He hates it, because he has Two-Buck-Chuck in his fantasy league.

I’ve actually been caught in the cross-hairs of a Love TJ’s vs Hate TJ’s battle, with each side trying to sway me with incredible arguments about a grocery store that’s been open for less than 100 hours here in WNY. If only we could corral this passion into something good.

I don’t hate Trader Joe’s. I don’t love Trader Joe’s. It’s meh. But with all this passion about the joint, maybe they should build one in the hole where the Aud used to be.

This page originally appeared at TrendingBuffalo.com

Learning to listen

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

My grandfather is 87 years old. His body is failing him, but his mind is a steel trap.

steveandgramps

I used to like to ask him questions about things I’d like to know about, but now mostly I listen when we visit. It’s just another one of the many things I’ve learned from good ol’ Gramps.

Listening is a powerful, underutilized gift. People don’t like to listen, even when they think they are listening. For example, I used to think I loved listening to Gramps’ stories, but I was always asking about specific things. Once I gave up the steering wheel, I really started to enjoy the ride.

Gramps’ mind goes all over time and space. He has a nearly photographic memory for things that happened before he lost his sight a decade ago. He’s starting to lose names of people and places, but he remembers when you give him a little help. That’s not really a new problem either– for as long as I can remember, gramps has called me “AhhhChuckieTommyJimmyEddieAhhGregAhhStevie.”

I stopped by yesterday, and Gramps told me a few great stories about days gone by, as well as his analysis of the world today.

  • His $600 winner on a $2 ticket at the track.
  • Chinese nuclear reactors.
  • As a kid, swiping rejected boxes of Cheerios from the loading docks at General Mills (those were different times.)
  • How the Bills should have won every game so far.
  • All the different places he and his brothers and sisters served during the war. Aunt Olga was with Patton.
  • Bringing pennies to Father Baker.
  • Polish and Russian history.
  • How at 15 he had a mustache, and would go drink at Tippy Toes, and pick up chicks in his 1933 Plymouth.

Listening to Gramps, and knowing how much he enjoys having someone listen, has made me a better listener. I love to tell stories, but I’d rather hear a good story well told, by someone who is enjoying the telling. Even if I’ve heard the story 38 times before. The story is the selfish part for the listener.

Enjoying the joy with which the story is being told, now there’s a skill we all need to practice, with someone who could really use an ear.

This page originally appeared at TrendingBuffalo.com

Front Row Seat for Buffalo Sailor During Actual “Captain Phillips” Saga

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

BUFFALO, NY – “A friend asked it best. ‘How does it feel to have the most intense moment of your life turned into a movie?’ ”

That sums it up for John Siller, the former Navy Mass Communications Specialist who was off Africa’s coast, camera in hand, as the real “Captain Phillips” was rescued in 2009.

“It’s not like I was just standing there, I was involved in it. I didn’t shoot anybody, but I did a lot of work with the FBI, NCIS, taking evidence photos. I took the mug shots of the pirate we captured.”

captain-phillips-poster-intl
In the movie “Captain Phillips” to be released Friday, a bearded Tom Hanks plays Captain Richard Phillips, a merchant mariner whose ship, Maersk Alabama, was hijacked by Somali pirates.

“We were in the area doing counter-piracy operations, which up until that point, had involved us driving around in circles hoping to stumble upon pirates,” Siller says with a laugh. “We had helicopters that would fly around the area… It was more of a deterrent than us actually doing anything.”

Just like the rest of the world, the men and women with Siller on the USS Boxer were captivated by the story by watching it on the news. They had been in the general area of the hijacking, but were heading to the Persian Gulf for a scheduled port call and time off in Bahrain.

That was quickly cancelled, and the ship and crew were quickly moving toward the African Coast.

Soon, the Boxer was swarming with Navy SEALs.”We ended up being the ship that actually staged the efforts. We were the largest ship, so they brought most of their gear on our ship, so we became their operating base.”

On a normal day, Siller would be taking photos of daily operations on the ship, writing news stories and press releases. Those skills put him in the center of the operation.

“We were involved in documentation of everything,” says Siller. “They wanted photos and video of just about everything. Not only as evidence, but also to make sure that we were doing things the right way.”

Since word of the film came out, Siller and his old Navy buddies have been trading Facebook posts and jokes about what to expect from the movie. “I tell people that they got Denzel Washington to play me in the movie, which is obviously not true.”

He’s certainly going to see the movie, but he thinks alone might be the best way for him to watch. “It’s going to be hard for me to just sit there and watch when I was there, and I know what really happened.”

Siller is certainly expecting some Hollywood artistic license with the film, which could wind up getting dicey for him because some of what he saw, he’s still not allowed to talk about. “Some things I can tell, some things I can’t.”

Still, the resounding feeling is one of this not quite being real. “A lot of people join the military and just have a ‘whatever’ experience,” says Siller from his Buffalo home. “It’s almost surreal to think here’s this movie, and I was actually there.

This page originally appeared at TrendingBuffalo.com

We are all Joe Hollywood

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

One of the allures of wrestling is that while the characters are huge over-the-top exaggerations, there is (almost) always a solid kernel of truth in their grossly surreal mannerisms and affectations.

joehollywood
If Vince McMahon called you and asked you to invent a wrestling persona based on a Buffalo guy, and he was going to be a bad guy wrestler, you’d probably come up with something close to Joe Hollywood.

A drunken Bills fan with stupid nickname and a haircut that was really cool 30 years ago.

The perfect wrestler, right? But if you are a Buffalonian and you are reading this, there is an embarrassingly high chance that sentence can also describe you. (Yes, you too, ladies.)

While I don’t think most people would think that sentence applies to them, the chance is almost 100% that  a Buffalonian reading this is closely related to, or counts among his circle of friends “a drunken Bills fan with a stupid nickname and a haircut that was really cool 30 years ago.”

Most guys who fit this description are great guys. Really. Our neighbors, our friends, our uncles, our cousins, and look a little closer in the mirror—Us.

Just like a WWF (or whatever it’s called now) heel, Joe Hollywood took our idiosyncrasies to the extreme.

Not satisfied with drinking canned beer on the couch, or even getting kicked out of the Ralph the old fashioned way, this guy was arrested running around at field level in a Santa suit.

Most of us have nicknames that make us cringe when they are used in front of our wives. He went before a judge to change his perfectly Buffalo polysyllabic Polish last name to that stupid nickname that someone probably gave him drunk in a bar one night.

And, well, the hair.

Many of us had some fun booting this guy around the other day, and I get it. Add a couple of dozen run-ins with police to his persona, and you have the mass-media personification of that guy in your neighborhood or family that always seems to shatter the peace.

God rest his soul, he was the worst-case-scenario Buffalonian, the least desirable outcome of someone raised in our Western New York environment. But that reflects on us.

Despite the occasional numb-the-pain-over-indulgence during football games, most of us are far closer to the “good guy Buffalo wrestler persona” than Joe Hollywood ever was… but think of how many wrestlers have quickly turned from good guy to bad guy to stretch out a career.

Any of us are two or three… or two or three dozen… bad breaks away from Joe Hollywood. If anything good comes of this, let it be a reminder that all of us here in Buffalo probably need a good haircut.

This page originally appeared at TrendingBuffalo.com

The coolest guy I know…

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

What is “cool?” It’s a word and a concept that are virtually cliché, mostly because for the last 30 years, popular culture’s most popular people and things  are usually anti-cool.

C'mon, this is Al. Isn't he just the coolest?
C’mon, this is Al. Isn’t he just the coolest?

“Uncool” still isn’t cool, but anti-cool is the coolest. Many cool people use the word “cool” ironically, not as it may have been intended at some point long ago.

Let’s think back to when cool was cool, though. I’m 36. When I was kid, Michael Jackson and The Dukes of Hazzard were pop-culture cool. I liked those things, but if you ran into little Stevie Cichon on the streets of South Buffalo in 1982, and asked him to name one “cooool” guy, I would have said, without thinking, The Fonz.

Arthur Fonzarelli might be our national lasting impression of “cooool,” so to that measure, Little Stevie would have been correct.

“Adult” Steve (note quotes- ed.) finds Fonzie to be more indifferent than cool. Whether we’re talking about him or James Dean, these “cool dudes” were guys who tried hard to exude an image. A slick haircut, a leather jacket, a motorcycle, defiant smoking, dungarees, and of course, that defiant attitude.

That alone was enough to “own” Arnold’s in 1950-whenever-Happy-Days-was-supposed-to-have-happened.  That just can’t be “cool” now though, because even the squarest kids have some measure of the Fonz’s bad-ass defiant attitude and have their own ways of doing whatever they want.

I’d offer that the fact the Fonz’s act wouldn’t be cool today, means he was never really “cool.”

Before you tell me, “sit on it, Cunningham,” let’s think about this.

He tried hard to be cool, right? For me, that’s big. Any effort you put into being cool lobs off massive amounts of cool points.

To me, cool means, in part, someone who personifies not giving a shit about being cool to the n-th degree.  Someone who does what they do, and they go home and have a sandwich. Someone who– if is accused of being cool– immediately thinks the accuser is an asshole.

That’s cool.

According to some website (which supports my point of view so I’ll accept it), “cool” came into English as slang in 1825, meaning “calmly audacious.” It’s with that connotation that “cool” came to mean “fashionable” in Black America in the 1930s. The word was propagated by some of the really coolest men who ever lived, jazz musicians of the 1940s and 50s.

Speaking generally, jazz musicians qualify as cool. They mostly don’t care what you think about their music. I don’t know much about jazz, but I appreciate watching jazz live. You can just about see instruments connected to the souls and guts of the guys who play them. It’s pure, raw music art.

So some guy, who has played with legends and travelled around the world, and made and lost a lot of money, sits in a hole-in-the-wall bar, bares his soul by means of a horn, people are blown away, and he gets in his car and goes home and has a piece of toast and mows the lawn.

That guy is cool. Right?

Al Wallack isn’t a jazz musician, but he is a jazz man. It’s the soul, not the ability with a musical instrument in hand.

For 40 years, Al has used his ability to convey the spoken word and ability to record and edit and manipulate sound on the radio in the same artful, beautiful and soulful way that the guy blowing sax does.

Al’s opus work was “Jazz in the Nighttime” on WEBR AM-970 in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. It wasn’t a job for him, it was a passion.  He did it because something inside of him made him do it.  In many ways, it was his life.

To say Al is the best is wrong, because just like the jazz artists he put in the spotlight for so many years, it’s better to just call him a great artist, and like all great artists he’s different, unique, and in a category all his own.

Ask him, and Al will tell you he’s just and old disc jockey who likes to sit home and drink cheap beer, and that he’s not deserving of going into the Buffalo Broadcasting Hall of Fame, as he is set to do tonight.

He can’t be more right and more wrong. While I can’t think of a more deserving member of the Broadcasting Hall of Fame, based on what’s truly a legacy of artistry and commitment like none other in the history of Buffalo radio… He’s also just an old disc jockey who likes to sit at home and drink THE CHEAPEST light beer he can find.

He’d also look at me with a perturbed look on his face, and think I’m an asshole for saying it, but on this day I’ll take the hit: Al Wallack is the coolest guy I know.

WGR’s Biggest Loss Since Shane

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

When you turn on your radio Monday afternoon, you’ll barely—if at all—notice the difference. That’s how they get away with it. An era, however, will have ended in Buffalo radio.

Greg Bauch behind the WGR controls.
Greg Bauch behind the WGR controls.
Greg Bauch’s last day at WGR is Friday.  Listeners to Schopp and The Bulldog might recognize Greg as the guy who plays funny sound effects or through his radio alter ego, Greg Buck.

While Greg is among the best at finding (and playing at the right moment) silly or interesting sound bites, and Greg Buck is the funniest bit ever on Buffalo radio, others will come along and play sound effects and be funny. That’s just what one does on the radio.

The real story is, after 15 years there, Bauch is, without question, the heart and soul of WGR.

He’s the type of guy who becomes the heart and soul wherever he goes, but in a business where heart and soul don’t often last much longer than the time the “ON AIR” light is lit, Greg has managed to strap that station to his back, allowing an institutional continuity and his goodness to permeate the product for a decade and a half.

I first heard Greg Bauch when he started the way everyone started at WGR a generation ago: as the man at the controls of the late night John Otto show.  The astute listener could hear that the brilliant Otto was often frustrated with the fact that his show was a training ground for “the new guy,” especially when that new guy “cared not a FIG!” about Otto or his show.

Broadcasting Hall of Famer Otto loved Greg. You could hear the smile through the radio as John,  John, your operator on referred to him as my humble man servant Gregor.

John Otto was the first in a very long line of wonderfully talented hosts who was able to find something special in Greg, which is someone who was happy with being, and supremely talented at being, a radio producer.

A good producer is someone who lives for the good of the show (not someone who lives for the opportunity to inject himself on the air.)

A good producer does whatever it takes to forge a relationship with the talent on the show he’s producing, and builds an unbreakable trust with that person, allowing the talent to freely host the show with the knowledge that whatever is happening “on the other side of the glass” is being dealt with the proper amount of care.

With all this, a good producer is an equal part of the success of the show which he produces, although any recognition of that fact is almost always an afterthought. He is also accepting of the fact that he might command a quarter of the pay of the talent, while often working at least twice as hard.

Speak to Chris Parker or Mike Schopp or Chuck Dickerson or Tom Bauerle or the late Clip Smith or the late John Otto.  They will tell you, invariably, that their shows were better because they had Bauch at the controls.

A thankless, lunch bucket kind of job in the midst of the glitz, glamour and fame of radio. Greg excels at it because that’s who he is.

But, as Van Miller used to say, that’s only the half of it.

To use a hokey hockey analogy, Greg has worn the “C” in the WGR dressing room for at least a decade as the quiet, stay at home defenseman, who not only moves easily among the superstar goal scorers, but always takes the new guys under his wing and shows them what they need to know.

Name anyone you’ve heard do a sports update on WGR in the last decade, and they were trained by Greg Bauch.  Or trained by someone who went to the Greg Bauch College of WGR Knowledge.

To use another stupid sports analogy, Greg is the quarterback who stands back and sees everything at the station, from all perspectives- the talk show hosts, the update guys, the producers, even promotions and engineering, and successfully has them all working together.

It’s ironic and rare in this day and age, that he has been able to force all that’s good out of that radio station, and the people working there, by his gentle touch, and the fact that you aren’t likely to meet a better human being.  Unless you know Howard Simon.  But Greg has hair, so Greg > Howard.

This isn’t just the end of an era because Greg won’t be there anymore. It’s the end of an era, because it’s almost certain there’ll never be another like Greg Bauch in radio in Buffalo ever again.

Like in many fields, the corporatization of radio has eliminated the middle ground where good producers once stood. Radio is ever increasingly becoming a place where there are a few reasonably well-paid on-air talents, and everyone else makes minimum wage without benefits.

Even if someone had the drive, personality, voice, comedic timing, leadership skills and hot wife that Greg Bauch has, it’s nearly impossible that the person could remain in a job that is no longer valued in the corporate structure of radio the way Greg has been able.

So, talk show callers… Your time to harass a legend is running out. Post game coming up.

This page originally appeared at TrendingBuffalo.com

A man ahead of his time

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

13427954_10209523827394107_7932250703412461951_nJack Tapson passed away last weekend.

He was a photographer, who like me shared a love of Buffalo Broadcasting, worked in the field for a few decades, and knew– as it was unfolding– that he was watching something important unfolding in front of him daily.

He started at Channel 4  as a lover of photography and teen technician in the 1940s and moved onto Channel 2 where he started the news film department in the mid-1950s.

For decades, these jobs put him on the front lines of some of the really amazing things that were happening in what was then America’s 15th largest city. Behind the scenes at Buffalo’s big TV stations as well.

Through the years, he sent me dozens of photographs along with some sort of brief description of the shot. As is usually the case, many of the photos are amazing not only for the intended subject, but the background and surrounding scenery, too.

His access to free or low-cost film and developing at work, and the consistency with which he carried his still camera through various jobs he was working, give us a bit of a glimpse of what it might have been like to follow a television reporter or videojournalist on Facebook or Twitter 60 years ago. Just like someone whipping out their cellphone for a quick pic while doing their actual job, many of Jack’s photos were taken while shooting moving pictures for WGR-TV.

Importantly, he not only took these shots, he saved them all these years. Even more importantly, he then shared them, mostly with fellow historian Marty Biniasz and me.

Here are a couple of shots, with Jack’s notes and then some further explanation.

Ernie_Warlick_Jim_Castigleone__Bob_Lanier

“Here’s a classic!!! Ernie wore a size 19 shoe, Jimmie a size 6 1/2 and Bob Lanier a size 24.”

Shown: Channel 2 Sportsman & Former Buffalo Bill Ernie Warlick; Channel 2 floorman Jim Castiglione; Bennett High School & St. Bonaventure basketball star (and future NBA Hall of Famer) Bob Lanier. Late 60s.

pulaskie_day_parade_redo-Bobby-Kennedy

“I received a thank you note from Kennedy after fulfilling his request to send this photo and others….similar.”

Shown: Robert Kennedy’s campaign car takes him through Buffalo’s East Side and up Broadway, 1964

Kowal__Harry_Truman_color“I shot silent footage at his arrival and departure at the Bflo. airport and S.O.F. at Canisus College.”

Shown: Buffalo Mayor Chet Kowal shaking hands with Former President Harry Truman on his way to a Canisius College speaking engagement, 1962. (S.O.F. is “sound on film,” silent film was far less expensive, so sound was only shot for news purposes when necessary.)

Details of Buffalo history aren’t all that I learned from Jack.

Jack and I had a falling out. He was insistent on something that didn’t fully make sense to me. I reasonably refuted a tad, he got passionately angry. I passive-aggressively pushed back again.

If you read through the emails, I think anyone would agree he was acting like a jerk. What I didn’t know though, was that he was really sick. Had I known, I probably would have cut the passive aggressive sort of crap. I did my best to try to make amends with him. I said all the right things, and really meant all that I said. It was too late though, as illness had taken a good grip on poor ol’Jack.

Now we weren’t close friends, I’m not even sure that we actually met in person, but knowing that I didn’t do all that I could have to aid a brother in trouble, leaves me greatly troubled. Just because he was outwardly acting like a jerk, didn’t give me permission to be jerky–less jerky, but still jerky– back.  He was sick, that was his excuse. I don’t have an excuse. Without the details, I posted about it on Facebook.

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As my friend Libby commented on Facebook, “That is real wisdom. (Wisdom is sometimes accompanied by an uneasy feeling.) (It never seemed that way for Andy Taylor or Cliff Huxtable, but I have found it so in real life.)”

So thanks, Jack for capturing so many fleeting Buffalo memories on film. And thanks for bearing with me while I learned a tough lesson in humility and compassion which will serve me, and the people around me, well into the future.

This page originally appeared at TrendingBuffalo.com