Buffalo in the 40s: Gee, our old LaSalle ran great

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

If remembered at all, General Motors’ LaSalle line of cars might best be recalled as the closing line in the opening theme of “All in the Family.”

Between 1927 and 1940, LaSalle was a General Motors nameplate for slightly less upscale and less  expensive versions of the Cadillac. This 1940 ad is from LaSalle’s last year of production for Maxson Cadillac/LaSalle at 2421 Main at Jewett, Buffalo, as seen in the Buffalo Evening News. (Buffalo Stories archives)

The autos were produced by the Cadillac Division of General Motors and were meant to be a less expensive version of the premium Cadillac line.

Buffalo’s leading Cadillac dealer was Maxson, at the corner of Main and Jewett at the Art Deco Pierce-Arrow showroom, now (2015) the home of a First Niagara Bank branch (KeyBank branch 2018.)

As Edith and Archie sang, “Those were the days.”

 

Fill ‘er up, Buffalo– 1960’s style

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Six or seven years ago, The Buffalo Broadcasters threw out a bunch of 16mm newsfilm that had begun to degrade and could no longer be played. I garbage picked it, and pulled apart the reels to look for the good frames here and there.

I scanned a few of them in… Here are a couple of late 1960s Buffalo area gas stations from a reel labelled simply “GAS.”

Buffalo Gas Stations (1)

Buffalo Gas Stations (2)

 

There was no brick oven pizza, flat screen TVs, or lattes at these gas stations. You got gasoline, maybe some oil, from a guy with a workingman’s filth under his nails. You paid at the pump when you gave him five bucks and told him to fill’er up and keep the change.

It’s different now. Not better, not worse– a mix of the two, for sure. It’s more fitting to just say “different.”

There is plenty more of this “garbage film,” and in some a bunch of cases, even a few seconds of good video was pulled from it. In a few cases, the grisly look of the film that was tossed was no indication that it actually played back well.

The more to come sign is up, here.

Hollywood features Buffalo on TV’s Route 66

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Flipping through the channels we get over the air without cable, and I saw black & white video that looked like Buffalo’s Central Terminal. Turns out, it was!!

The opening five minutes or so of a 1963 episode of Route 66 was shot inside the New York Central Terminal, with some looks at the surrounding area as well.

Great East Side views!!

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The Central Terminal part of this episode was also posted on YouTube some time ago.

 

 

The Complete Legend of Haseoke

Grainy video apparently shows Dominik Hasek “singing” the hits
SPOILER ALERT: Not Really

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

In the dark back room at a Radio Station in Buffalo, New York, Steve Cichon, the producer of the Mike Schopp Show, found a dusty box of tapes labeled “Dom–Karaoke.” After viewing a few tapes, it was obvious that these tapes were, indeed, of Dom doing karaoke. As the “curator” of the Haseoke Archive, Steve chose a tape to play each day on Mike’s show. 

Reflections as Hasek’s Jersey is Retired, January, 2015

Buffalo, NY – Today is a day about legacy.

Dominik Hasek, arguably (should read CLEARLY) the most talented man ever to don a Sabres sweater, will see his number -39- hoisted into the rafters of the First Niagara Center this evening. (Most Talented Sabre and Greatest Sabre are two different ideas, but I’ll save that for another day.)

Hasek’s career in Buffalo and my career in radio started at about the same time. As a teenaged radio producer, I was at Sabres morning skates when John Muckler was being asked about Grant Fuhr or Hasek starting.

By the end of the ’90s, when the Sabres were making deep playoff runs, I was a semi-regular at game day skates and in the post-game dressing room first for WBEN, then for Channel 4.

That’s Dominik Hasek brushing by me as he abruptly leaves a press conference in the Sabres dressing room at Marine Midland Arena in 1998.

It could get pretty emotional after a big game. When the Sabres lost the 1998 Eastern conference Finals in Game 6 to the Washington Capitals, I walked into the room just as Rob Ray punched out the glass door of a convenience-store-style drink cooler/fridge. Donald Audette sat in his locker stall, jersey off, pads on, sobbing uncontrollably.

One of the great things about that team was their emotional investment. It takes magic to win in sports, and that Sabres team had it. They had that intangible something– everyone feeding off of one another, all on the same page with the same goals.

Creating and fostering that magic is the fleeting task that every coach and front office tries to accomplish in athletics. It’s that rare and impossible-to-predict atmosphere that is the most difficult part in creating a successful team. Finding talented players is the relatively easy part.

That Sabres group was made up of a lot of guys touched with that rare magic but most had little talent. Domink Hasek, of course, was the talent, and it was from him that the magic flowed. But just as he was a like a brick wall in the net, he was like a brick wall in the feng shui of the spirit of that team.

Watching it up close, there were little signs. Literally. Like the one in Hasek’s dressing room stall which read like something a third grader would post on his bedroom door. “DO NOT TOUCH EVER” said the sticker above a pair of nail clippers hanging on the wall near Dom’s pads. It’s unclear whether actual tomfoolery or just the active prevention of tomfoolery precipitated the sign, but it wasn’t really in line with the aura of boyish fun surrounding that team.

By 1999, I was a TV sports producer on the Stanley Cup beat. My job was to watch morning practice, and get in the lockerroom and ask the questions that sports reporters ask. Hasek was one of the “must talk to” players. His “treatments” right after practice usually meant he wouldn’t speak in a press conference, which meant 20-30 reporters, producers, and cameramen surrounding Hasek’s stall waiting for him to come out. His “20 minute treatments” would sometimes take more than an hour, but the whole gaggle had to be ready. Dom wouldn’t wait for people to get into position. Sometimes, he wouldn’t speak for more that a minute or two. If you weren’t ready, you missed it.

I have always done impressions. By this point, you could have heard me on the radio doing “Johnnie the old tyme hockey guy” (who suspiciously sounded like John Muckler), Gary Bettman, and John Butler.

Sometimes spending a half hour on one knee waiting for Hasek to come out, I can clearly remember doing quiet Hasek impressions– lips pressed close to the microphone I was holding ready for Hasek. I was just loud enough so that the videographers I was working with, usually Jeff Helmick or Scott Swenson, could hear it in their earpieces but no one else could.

Those impressions continued in the car and back at the station, and often involved a liberal sprinkling of classic Hasek terms like “groin”, “butterfly” (the sprawling move which he had a hard time doing because of his groin injury), and “I nono”, which is how it sounded when he started most sentences with a negative headshake and the words “I don’t know.”

domonstageA few years later, impression refined, I was working at WNSA Radio and The Empire Sports Network producing the Mike Schopp Show. Our stations were owned by Rigas Family, who also owned the Sabres. Once, we were supposed to have a St. Louis Cardinals beat writer on, and he stiffed. On the air, Mike asked if Dom could come on and talk about the Cardinals, so only identified as “Dom,” I did the interview with Mike. I knew very little about the Cardinals, which made it even better.

Hasek was still a Sabre at this point, and Mike and I were told to never have “Dom” on the show again. But as luck would have it, he was soon traded, and the ban was lifted. Mike had the lyrics of “Lady Marmalade,” the LaBelle classic which was enjoying a resurgence with a Christina Aguilera cover on the charts.

“What would it sound like if ‘Dom’ was doing karaoke and sang ‘Lady Marmalade,'” asked Schopp. “That would be like ‘Haseoke,'” said program drector and sports update guy Chris Atkins. Haseoke was born.

I’d produce a “Haseoke” clip for Sabres game days, first with Schopp, then Howard Simon. As “the curator of the Haseoke archive,” I would help introduce whichever clip I had “found” that day. When I left WNSA and moved over to Entercom, Haseoke appeared again regularly with Schopp and The Bulldog on WGR. In the beginning, they were mostly just “Dom” trying to sing and doing a poor job of it. As it evolved, “Dom” started to fill his songs with hate for the Sabres, and would often sing a song where the lyrics could be bent into cheering for whoever the Sabres were playing against.

Once Hasek retired, new Haseoke songs would only pop up when Hasek was in the news for something.

In truth, Haseoke was born of my frustration and dislike for Hasek as a guy. He might have played up an injury because he hated the coach. He roughed up my good pal, the late hockey writing legend Jim Kelley. He was arrogant. He made me wait on one arthritic knee just because he could and he wanted to eff with reporters.

I know I wasn’t alone in my feelings. I once had a brief, smiling conversation with Darcy Regier about Haseoke. He started it, and he )was smiling. While Marty Biron was the Sabres starting goalie, I talked as Dom with Biron– LIVE on the air– and told him how terrible he was and the Sabres were. Marty loved it.

That was then. I’m far more removed now, but I’m glad to see that Hasek appears to be a bit more level-headed and even likable these days. Even if they were both faking it, was nice to see Hasek and Ted Nolan enjoying a conversation together earlier this hockey season. Hasek of 15 years ago couldn’t have been bothered to fake such a thing.

The fact he seems a bit more humble and likeable has let the steam out of my desire to “curate” any new Haseoke tapes. But as I wrote to open this piece, today is about legacy.

As Hasek is justly being remembered as worthy of having his number retired, I might be remembered for this. I know for many Buffalo sports talk show fans, I’ll forever be linked with Dom. In fact, over a 20 year broadcasting career, despite covering Hurricane Katrina and plane crashes and big trials and big snow & ice storms and winning awards for reporting and journalism, Haseoke might be the only thing I’m remembered for, if anything at all.

If my legacy is making people smile…. I no-no… I’m happy for it.

Buffalo in the ’70s: The Azar– The Oldsmobile named after Rick Azar

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

In 1975 Buffalo, very few people were more hip than the Eyewitness News anchor team of Irv Weinstein, Rick Azar and Tom Jolls.

Promotion of their top rated newscasts on WKBW-TV Channel 7 was everywhere: buses, billboards, television promos, print ads — and a driveway near you?

Buffalo in 1980: The biggest WNY events of the ’70s, in pictures

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Over a two-page spread six days into the 1980s, The News looked back at the most important stories of Western New York over the previous 10 years in photos.

Fourteen photos represented events that defined Buffalo during the decade. The images are grainy, but the memories of the happenings are still with us.

They include the Attica prison uprising; the Sabres’ coming to town and playing for the Stanley Cup; violent clashed between police and students at UB; construction of the Marine Midland Tower; OJ Simpson’s gathering records as the Bills opened Rich Stadium; noxious chemicals in a Sunset bay train wreck; St. Joseph New Cathedral is torn down, but visitor Karol Józef Wojtyla becomes pope; Love Canal closes; UB’s North Campus opens; and the Blizzard of ’77.

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Buffalo’s ‘Challenge of the ’60s’

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Buffalo’s decline as an industrial power had already begun, but either it was difficult to tell from within or those who did know didn’t want to admit it for fear the admission would help accelerate the decline.

As the 1960s started 55 years ago this week, The News Editorial Board looked back at the booming ’50s and looked ahead to what needed to keep that boom going into the ’60s and beyond.

Many of the changes discussed as necessary for the 1960s are just beginning to be fulfilled 50 years later.

“Challenge of the ’60s”

“The decade just ended for the Niagara Frontier, as for other urban regions, has been a period of tremendous growth and profound change.”

Buffalo Evening News editoral (Buffalo Stories archives)
Buffalo Evening News editoral (Buffalo Stories archives)

 

Buffalo in 1960: JN Adam’s accounts now at Hengerer’s

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

JN’s was a Buffalo institution for 79 years, but the department store closed its doors in late 1959.

The last home of JN Adam’s was the building we now know as the AM&A’s building. AM&A’s moved from across Main Street into the closing JN Adam’s storefront 55 years ago this month.

AM&A’s picked up JN’s building, but Hengerer’s, as its ad from this date in 1960 reminds, bought up JN’s lines of credit.

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Buffalo in 1960: Phone numbers changing to two letters-five numbers

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

New York Telephone called it a sign of our area’s great progress in one sentence, and then in the next sentence said it’s happening everywhere around the country.

It was this week 55 years ago that Ma Bell began getting telephone users ready to ditch phone numbers like TRiangle 9820 and PArkside 1344, in favor of new versions like TA2-9820 and TF3-1344.

By the end of the 1960s, letters completely gave way to numbers in phone numbers around the country and in Buffalo.

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