Mixed feelings on Millard Fillmore’s birthday

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Millard Fillmore’s grave at Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo, NY

Buffalo’s own Millard Fillmore is buried in Forest Lawn cemetery, his grave very simply marked.

Those who loved him, appreciated his contributions to Buffalo’s formation as a city, and his involvement in the creation of dozens of institutions from UB to the SPCA to the History Museum… in death, they called him M.F.

There are also those who look upon his signing of the Fugitive Slave Act and his later lack of enthusiasm for the northern cause toward the end of the Civil War and call him M. F.

It’s nice that we can all agree about what to call Millard Fillmore on this, the 219th anniversary of his birthday.

I tend to agree with both interpretations. HB, MF.

Sears & Kmart, once the gold standard, now nearly dead

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

I was a longtime Kmart man.

Throughout my childhood, even as Hills, Twin Fair, Gold Circle, Ames, and Brand Names all had their advantages, Kmart was my gold standard in shopping.

It was always clean, well stocked, and carried quality merchandise.

When we first bought our house, Sears was still the embodiment of dependability. To buy something from Sears was an investment.

It’s been sad to see these great brands ravaged, and to know the service and dependability they stood for is completely and utterly dead on any large scale.

I was thinking about all this after writing about the demise of Kmart and Sears for The News.

The days when Sears and Kmart first arrived in WNY

 

Comfort in the kettle’s whistle

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

There’s a full kitchen a few doors down from my office, and someone left the tea kettle to boil and walked away.

It was going for two or three minutes before I got up to shut it off… I felt like I was back at Grandma Cichon’s house, where a lot of times it felt like I was the only one who heard the kettle going.

By the time I made it down to the kitchen just now, I was thinking back to taking similar steps towards a whistling kettle to make a couple of cups of awful instant coffee for Gramps and me… so we could sit and talk with Lawrence Welk or Stan Jasinski playing in the background.

“Perfect. Thanks son,” Gramps would say to any cup of coffee, knowing that it was made with love.

Perfect. Thanks Gramps.

I didn’t know I was a pencil snob

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

I guess I’m a pencil snob. There’s a box of 144 new pencils in the desk I inherited, but I had to order some good ol’ Dixon Ticonderoga No. 2s.

Ever since Mr. Frost handed me a new one of these on the first day of second grade, every other pencil has felt inferior.

American cedar, quality lead, and a soft eraser that erases without ruining the page. And, maybe most important, they just smell like pencils.

Are you still reading this? Now I’m embarrassed.

No one should care this much about pencils, but then again, you already knew there is something wrong with me.

Pausing to reflect, 9/11/18

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

The WECK Coffee Club paused at 8:46am this morning.

This morning we pause to remember… where we were, what we doing at the moment when we found out our world had changed.

We remember that moment…

We remember the people who were sitting at their desks in the World Trade Center and The Pentagon… and those who wrestled evil on a plane over Pennsylvania.

We remember the first responders who rushed in to help…

We remember those who volunteered to defend our country…
and we remember those who who never returned home.

In their honor, I hope we also remember the way we came together as a country and as a people, and try to find some way to bring that feeling into our daily lives– and remember what we have in common as Americans, in honor of those we lost on this day 17 years ago.

Sounds of the Fair: Demolition Derby & Joie Chitwood

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

This week we’re celebrating the sounds of the Erie County Fair.

The Demolition Derby has been a final-weekend-of-the-fair tradition for generations.

1967 ad.

Billed through the years as “The 100 car Demolition Derby,” “The 200 car Demolition Derby,” and then later as “The World’s Largest Demolition Derby,”  through the 50s and 60s, ads in the sports section of the Buffalo Evening News and Courier-Express goaded men on to join with headlines screaming, “WANTED MEN WITH IRON NERVES” and “WANTED… MEN WITH COURAGE TO DRIVE AUTOMOBILES HEAD ON AT 60 MPH CREATING A 120 MPH IMPACT.”

1953

For about as long as there’s been auto racing and auto thrill shows, motor mayhem has been a big part of The Erie County Fair. Joie Chitwood was the original stock car daredevil, and he and Erie County Fair staple for decades.

Joie Chitwood… The Demolition Derby… all kinds of automotive daring… a long standing part of the tradition at the Erie County Fair.

Buffalo’s best remembered commercial jingles

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Knowing these five jingles is a bit like a Buffalo Baby-Boomer secret handshake. 

“Talking Proud” was Buffalo’s anthem at a time when many of us didn’t feel so great about Buffalo.

When the song and campaign were released 1980, Bethlehem Steel, where more than 20-thousand men once worked, was winding down and the furnaces would soon go cold.

There was a billboard behind City Hall asking the last person leaving Buffalo to turn out the light.

MORE: Buffalo in the 80’s: Talking Proud 

Our region had spent a lot of time in National headlines as the epicenter of environmental disaster at Love Canal and the home of snowy death with Blizzard of ’77.

We needed something to hang our hats on.

It was easy to feel down about Buffalo, and over the last 40 years, most of us have said, “We’re Talking Proud!” ironically…  but having something, anything to rally around made a difference and gave us Buffalonians a sense of identity—

Even if we giggled a little as Terry Licata did he leaned back arm-swinging march through the streets of Buffalo.

This is a later follow up to the original Talking Proud television spot. These continued to air through the 1980s. The video is courtesy of  retrontario.com, whose webmaster Ed Conroy has posted hundreds of great Buffalo (and, as you might guess, Southern Ontario) television clips from the 70s, 80s, and 90s.

More from the Retrontario YouTube Channel: youtube.com/user/Retrontario

 


Kaufman’s Rye Bread

This week we’ve been looking back at some of Buffalo’s favorite and best remembered commercial jingles.

So, do you remember where you’ll find the Jolly Little Baker?

That animated little baker spent time on Buffalo televisions from the 50s through the 70s.

As much as the unique, dense rye bread that still sparks life in the palates of Western New Yorkers, our yearning for Kaufman’s rye bread is tied to the fact that the taste is forever linked to that 18-second jingle, permanently implanted in the subconscious of generations of Buffalonians, which many of us could still sing on demand.

MORE: Torn-Down Tuesday: The Kaufman’s Rye Bread sign

Known of course for singing the “Jolly Little Baker” jingle, the pen-and-ink bread maker, wearing a bow tie and pleated chef’s toque was emblazoned on the cellophane wrappers of Kaufman’s various varieties of Rye, pumpernickel, and kaiser rolls.

1956.

The smiling chubby little guy would also appear on the pages of the Courier-Express and Buffalo Evening News offering recipes for “sandwiches of the week.”
These sandwiches of 60 years ago, featuring liverwurst, boiled tongue, and sardines aren’t all in line with most modern palettes, but show us what people were putting on their rye bread in 1957.


Sattler’s 998 Broadway

This week, we’re taking a look at some of Buffalo’s iconic jingles, and there aren’t many more iconic than the one that ends with “9-9-8 Broadway!”

Sattler’s closed 36 years ago, yet we still know the address by heart. While the jingle indeed helped Buffalo remember that now iconic address, more than that, without the jingle– we might not have known Sattler’s at all.

Sattler’s from a 1954 ad.

Despite decades of heavy print advertising and growing from a single store front to an entire block across from the Broadway Market, Sattler’s couldn’t seem to bust through as much more than a neighborhood Broadway/Fillmore store.

Ad for Lanny & Ginger Grey’s studio, 1947

In 1941, Lanny and Ginger Grey– singers in New York City– wrote the first advertising jingle ever for a department store for Sattler’s. There were different versions, but they all ended in those five syllables that are permanently etched into the memories of generations of Buffalonians, “nine-nine-eight Broad-WAY!”

The radio singing commercials did something that years of print ads just could do. People from all over Buffalo, especially more elusive wealthy customers, started shopping 998, where they were buying everything from canaries to thuringer sausage to mink coats at Sattler’s.

In 1948, the Sattler’s store was completely rebuilt, complete with escalators and air conditioning. Sattler’s executives called called it “the store that jingles built.”

Those iconic jingles were filled Buffalo’s airwaves in 1950, playing 102 times a week on WBEN, WGR, WKBW, WEBR and WBNY.

Sattler’s was at the cutting edge of over-the-top, cutting edge, marketing and self-promotion.

It was tough to listen to the radio for any extended period of time without being reminded to “shop and save at Sattler’s, 998 Broadway!”


Boost Buffalo!

If you were around in Buffalo in the 1960s, you can’t help but remember the “Boost Buffalo” jingle.

The Boost Buffalo campaign started hitting Buffalo radios, TVs, and with 10,000 bumper stickers in 1960, organized by the marketing men of Buffalo.

The decline of many of Buffalo’s major industries had already begun—but in 1960, Chamber of Commerce President Whitworth Ferguson told one luncheon that Buffalo was the ninth fastest growing city in the country, and it was important to Boost Buffalo because “with an enlarged spirit of cooperation, we can obtain for our citizens an even greater level of prosperity and well-being.”

1965 ad.

Buffalo’s Chamber of Commerce seemed to blame the massive hemorrhaging of industry from Western New York on the bad attitude of Buffalonians.

Clifford Furnas, Henry Comstock, and Mayor Frank Sedita kicking off “Boost Buffalo,” 1960.

Henry Comstock of Comstock Advertising which created the Boost Buffalo campaign and jingle.

“Buffalo’s record on almost every score is far above the average,” said Comstock, “yet our people seem prone to find fault and seem to delight in picking on small insignificant short comings.”

At the unveiling of the campaign, UB Chancellor Dr. Clifford C. Furnas declared that “the negative attitudes about the city expressed by many are entirely unjustified,” and added that “perhaps we have been resting on our laurels.”


MORE:

If you grew up in Buffalo in the 1960s, you can’t help but remember the “Boost Buffalo” jingle. But that was the idea behind the slogan, as it was explained in 1964 when the special Chamber of Commerce “Boost Buffalo” committee elected new leadership.

” ‘Boost Buffalo’ leader is named”

“ ‘Some people poke fun at the “Boost Buffalo, it’s good for you” slogan,’ a chamber official said, ‘but that only shows that it’s caught on, that everybody’s heard of it, and that it’s good.’ ”


WEBR’s The Sound of the City

Starting in 1962, The Sound of the City became WEBR Radio’s theme song, and it’s one of the sounds that makes Buffalo, Buffalo.

Chances are you’ve heard it enough times over the 56 years since it debuted that you might even know all the words, but get ready to hear it a bit differently from now on.

The Sound of the City, WEBR 970. 1962 ad.

“The Sound of the City” was rewritten and resung and for many radio stations and cities around the country– Buffalo wasn’t even first. The son was originally written for San Francisco radio station KSFO, which was owned by Gene Autry.

Johnny Mann, who was best known as the music director on the Joey Bishop Show, wrote “The Sound of the City,” and the track is credited to the Johnny Mann Singers.

Thurl Ravenscroft, 1983.

For the original San Francisco version, as well as the Buffalo version, among those nameless faceless Johnny Mann singers was Thurl Ravenscroft.

You might not know his name, but you know Ravenscroft’s work. While Boris Karloff did the speaking parts in the original “Grinch Who Stole Christmas” cartoon movie, it was the big voiced Thurl who did all the singing parts.

Ravenscroft’s bellowing voice is probably most recognizable as the voice of Tony the Tiger, the spokesman for Frosted Flakes.

Next time you listen to “The Sound of City,” make sure you listen for the deep throaty vibrato, and know that “it’s grrrrreat.”

Boost Buffalo– yelling at Buffalonians to love our city

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

If you were around in Buffalo in the 1960s, you can’t help but remember the “Boost Buffalo” jingle.

The Boost Buffalo campaign started hitting Buffalo radios, TVs, and with 10,000 bumper stickers in 1960, organized by the marketing men of Buffalo.

The decline of many of Buffalo’s major industries had already begun—but in 1960, Chamber of Commerce President Whitworth Ferguson told one luncheon that Buffalo was the ninth fastest growing city in the country, and it was important to Boost Buffalo because “with an enlarged spirit of cooperation, we can obtain for our citizens an even greater level of prosperity and well-being.”

1965 ad.

Buffalo’s Chamber of Commerce seemed to blame the massive hemorrhaging of industry from Western New York on the bad attitude of Buffalonians.

Clifford Furnas, Henry Comstock, and Mayor Frank Sedita kicking off “Boost Buffalo,” 1960.

Henry Comstock of Comstock Advertising which created the Boost Buffalo campaign and jingle.

“Buffalo’s record on almost every score is far above the average,” said Comstock, “yet our people seem prone to find fault and seem to delight in picking on small insignificant short comings.”

At the unveiling of the campaign, UB Chancellor Dr. Clifford C. Furnas declared that “the negative attitudes about the city expressed by many are entirely unjustified,” and added that “perhaps we have been resting on our laurels.”


MORE:

If you grew up in Buffalo in the 1960s, you can’t help but remember the “Boost Buffalo” jingle. But that was the idea behind the slogan, as it was explained in 1964 when the special Chamber of Commerce “Boost Buffalo” committee elected new leadership.

” ‘Boost Buffalo’ leader is named”

“ ‘Some people poke fun at the “Boost Buffalo, it’s good for you” slogan,’ a chamber official said, ‘but that only shows that it’s caught on, that everybody’s heard of it, and that it’s good.’ ”

The every day is filled with memories of those who make us who we are

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

This Hertel Avenue litter triggered an instant memory flashback:

Hey Steve-o, here’s a couple bucks. Go to the store and get your ol’man a pack of smokes. Your grandmother, too. And get yourself a candy bar, ok?

Even at 6 years old, Dad didn’t have to tell me to get him Parliament 100s or Grandma Kools.

There was never a note that I remember… and never a problem so long as I went to the corner deli and got the right brand of smokes. ( I tried to buy Marlboro for an uncle once and they literally chased me out of the store. Hahahaha.)

That was Grandma Cichon with the Kools.

Grandma Coyle, like my dad, smoked Parliaments. But the only thing she’d send us to B-Kwik for regularly was rolls for dinner.

Sometimes we’d stay late at Grandma Coyle’s house, and we’d take our baths there.

Sometimes, Grandma Coyle would have a beer– in an old school pint glass just like this one– while reclining on the couch watching TV.

It fills my heart even now to think about walking into the living room on Hayden Street in our pajamas, and seeing Grandma smiling as we walked in, all freshly scrubbed.

She smiled every time we walked into a room… and if that isn’t the greatest thing ever.

I’m so glad I decided to have a beer tonight– and that it took me to this story.