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

By Steve Cichon

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.


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

By Steve Cichon

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.


Buffalo in 1960: Former Mayor Pankow faces bribery charges

By Steve Cichon

For decades, it wasn’t unusual for former Buffalo mayors — or even sitting Buffalo mayors — to face criminal charges.  Accusations of bribery and corruption were commonplace in Buffalo politics, and the top office wasn’t immune.

Fifty-five years ago this week, former Mayor Steven Pankow was on trial in a bribery case.

“Mrs. Pankow’s bank deposit is on record in paving trial”

“A bank deposit slip showing a $2500 cash deposit in the account of former Mayor Pankow’s wife was introduced into the trial of paving bribery charges against five defendants during Monday’s session.”


Buffalo in the ’90s: The hectic sizzle of Your Host

By Steve Cichon

It doesn’t seem like 1990 is that far away to many Buffalonians — until you tell them in 1990 you could have sat at the counter of a Your Host Restaurant and ordered a meatloaf, coffee, and fries.

Then, all the sudden 1990 — only 25 years ago — seems like  a lifetime ago.

z2- 28 dec 1989 your host
As appeared in The Buffalo News– Buffalo Stories archives

The grill sergeants take charge

A CUSTOMER walks into the downtown Your Host wearing a satiny emerald Boston Celtics jacket and a hungry expression.

“Mary,” he says, “I need something to eat.”

It’s a couple minutes past noon, the start of the lunch-time rush.

“So, what will you have?” Mary Kuntz asks over hamburgers sizzling and french fries hissing.

“Meat loaf and fries,” the Celtics fan says.

“You got it,” says Mary, 58, a short-order cook for more than 30 years.

During the lunch hour at this restaurant at 767 Main St., Mary and her fellow short-order cook, Don Schroeder, take orders as well as cook them.


Buffalo in the 90’s: WNY’s upbeat outlook after the bruising ’80s

By Steve Cichon

It’s difficult for many of us to believe, but as of right now, parts of the 1990s were 25 years ago.

While the very beginning of the decade was filled for hope for Western New York, and seeds which were planted then are now the strongly rooted foundations of Buffalo’s resurgence, the 1990s were still a decade of growing pains. The direction, however, was usually the right one.

Outlook is upbeat after bruising 80s

“The ’80s was the great paradox,” said Common Council Majority Leader James W. Pitts. “It was a time when the city perhaps began on the road to recovery, while at the time traveling backwards.”

From the Buffalo news, January 1, 1990. Buffalo Stories archives


Buffalo in the 70s: Which beer did your dad drink?

By Steve Cichon

The 1970s saw the closure of Buffalo’s last two big, traditional breweries. While the names Iroquois and Simon Pure lasted even after the East Buffalo institutions closed, both were being brewed by the Fred Koch Brewery in Dunkirk. By 1979, even the names were gone from the market, and Buffalo had had its last Iroquois and Simon Pure.

Koch’s main offerings– Golden Anniversary, Holiday Beer and Black Horse Ale– all did reasonably well in Buffalo.

For most of the 70s, however, it was another “almost-local” brewery that held the largest market share when it came to the still-blue-collar, still shot-and-a-beer, still-neighborhood-tavern Buffalo.

At the start of the 1980s, Rochester’s Genesee Brewery brewed the beer that Buffalo drank more than any other.  By the time the calendar rolled into the 1990s, Genesee had been supplanted by Labatt.

Koch’s, Genesee and Labatt were all on sale this week in Buffalo during the week of December 15, 1979. Chances are pretty good that 35 years ago this week, most of our fathers or grandfathers bought a case or two for the garage fridge, getting ready for the big family Christmas party.

At Bells, it was yellow labeled no-name beer on sale.

Two signs you were in Buffalo in the 1970s: Black Horse Ale and the Buffalo Stallions at the Aud.

Super Duper had Genny, Genny Light and Genny Cream Ale six-packs on sale.

Despite rumors to the contrary, Koch’s Holiday Beer was a different recipe than Koch’s Golden Anniversary. It wasn’t just a label change at Christmas.

Labatt beer (still not officially “Labatt Blue”) and 50 Ale (which was Canada’s most popular beer through the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s) were both on sale at Tops.

Still officially called “Labatt Beer,” the labels told drinkers to “call for Labatt Blue.”

Consumer’s Beverage also had two more Buffalo favorites on sale: Old Vienna and Schmidt’s. And, of course, Consumer’s had its own branded 10-ounce glass bottles of pop on sale, as well.

Nov. 5, 1979: Hills opens two stores in Western New York

By Steve Cichon

With the country in the grips of an economic crisis and inflation crippling Buffalonians, Hills, “The Anti-Inflation Department Store,” was opening two new stores in Western New York.

The ribbon was cut at the Sheridan/Bailey location by Amherst supervisor and former WEBR Traffic reporter Jack Sharpe. The store became Ames in 1999 and closed in 2002. Walmart opened on the site in 2011.

The same day, a Hills store was opened on Lake Avenue in Blasdell, between South Park Avenue and the New York State Thruway. That store remains vacant.

“Dual opening”

“Hills Department Stores scored a second ‘first’ in the Buffalo area today. For the second time, the chain opened two new department stores on the same day.”

Buffalo in the 50s: Heritage Buffalo brewery closes its doors

By Steve Cichon

Fifty-five years ago, the Phoenix Brewery, which had been on Emslie Street since the end of Prohibition, closed, with the loss of about 30 jobs.

Phoenix Beer and Ale would continue to be bottled at the Pratt Street plant of the Iroquois Brewery. Both Phoenix and Iroquois were owned by International Breweries Inc.

The closed plant was built in 1867 and was the long time home of the East Buffalo Brewing Company.

“Old Phoenix Brewery closes in transfer of operations”

By Bob Watson | October 21, 1959

“Emslie St. plant is offered for sale as Iroquois absorbs part of its staff.”

The scary sounds of Halloween on WKBW: 5 hours worth of K-Big talent on display

By Steve Cichon

BUFFALO, NY – In the 1960s and ’70s, Buffalo’s WKBW Radio billed itself as “one of America’s two great radio stations.” Never was that more on display than on Halloween night.

This blurb appeared in a Geneseo newspaper during the week leading up to Halloween in 1968. The masterful promotional folks at KB knew that by sending out this warning--with hope of it being published, that people would flock to hear, as Jeff Kaye puts it in the intro to the 1971 version of the dramatization, "what all the hubhub was about." It's the 1960's version of "don't click on this link." (Buffalo Stories Photo)
This blurb appeared in a Geneseo newspaper during the week leading up to Halloween in 1968. The masterful promotional folks at KB knew that by sending out this warning–with hope of it being published, that people would flock to hear, as Jeff Kaye puts it in the intro to the 1971 version of the dramatization, “what all the hubhub was about.” It’s the 1960’s version of “don’t click on this link.” (Buffalo Stories Photo)

While Program Director Jeff Kaye might be best remembered for that deep resonant voice which he used like Horowitz on a Steinway, he was also perhaps the greatest producer and writer– that is to say, the greatest radio mind– of the generation.

He found superb vehicles not only for his own talent, but also put the stars of KB in situations where they could shine brightest. These Halloween productions are brilliant examples. The writing and production stands up almost 50 years later, and gives the listener a true sense of the talent that went into “playing the hits” on KB.

Most of these recordings played several times through the years, starting in 1967 and running through the late 70’s.

You hear the voice, writing and production of Jeff Kaye; the engineering and production of Al Lafler, Dan Kreigler, and many others; the voices and writing of Dan Neaverth, Jim McLaughlin, Don Berns, Stan Roberts, Sandy Beach, Jack Armstrong, Shane Gibson, Joe Downey, Ron Baskin, Henry Brach, Jim Fagan, Don Lancer, Irv Weinstein, and others.

Three different versions of the war of the Worlds appear. The primary difference in each is the news guy, disc jockey and the music at the start of the show. Sandy Beach was in the original broadcast in 1968, Jack Armstrong was in the 1971 version, and Shane in 1973. In 1974, Jeff Kaye became the afternoon drive host on KB’s competitor WBEN, effectively ending any future reworking of the “covering of the invasion” half of the show– which remained mostly unchanged through the different broadcasts.


Jeff Kaye, Dan Neaverth, Stan Roberts and the K-Big DJs added gasoline to the “Paul is dead” fire with “Paul McCartney is alive and Well… Maybe?”

Jim McLaughlin introduces Halloween 1973, and reminds you…Don’t turn around.

Dan Neaverth narrates People… places… things.

Jeff Kaye narrates with the KB Players in The Darkness.

Dan Neaverth narrates The Bed.

Jeff Kaye narrates with the KB Players in The Monkey’s Paw.

Jim McLaughlin narrates Vampires.

War of the Worlds 1968: The original broadcast featuring an intro by Dan Neaverth, Joe Downey-KB Radio News, and Sandy Beach- KB Radio Music.

War of the Worlds 1971: The broadcast featuring an intro by Jeff Kaye, Joe Downey-KB Radio News, and Jack Armstrong- KB Radio Music.

War of the Worlds 1973: The broadcast featuring an intro by Jim McLaughlin, Ron Baskin-KB Radio News, and Shane!- KB Radio Music.

Read the coverage of the scare created by the 1968 and 1971 broadcasts from the Associated Press, as printed in the Lockport Union Sun-Journal.

Buffalo in the 50s: AM&A’s set to move across Main Street as JN Adam closes

By Steve Cichon

After 78 years in downtown Buffalo, it was announced 55 years ago today that the J.N. Adam department store would be closing its doors — only to have the doors immediately reopened as the new home of AM&A’s.

Within months, it was an amazing sight to see as thousands of items were carried from the longtime home of AM&A’s across Main Street to the building it would call home until the flagship downtown store and all other locations were sold to Bon-Ton in 1994.

J.N. Adam and Robert Adam — the Adam of Adam, Meldrum and Anderson — were brothers who came to Buffalo from Scotland. It was the grandnephew of J.N. Adam and the grandson of AM&A’s founder Robert Adam who, as president of AM&A’s, facilitated the move on Main Street.

“AM&A to occupy J.N. Adam store”

“Some time next year J.N. Adam & Co. will discontinue its operations.

“Its store at Main and Eagle Sts. will be leased by Adam, Meldrum & Anderson Co. Inc. It will be remodeled and air-conditioned before occupany by AM&A.”