Grandma Cichon didn’t tell you you were special– she cultivated what made you special

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

It’s been 22 years now– and sad for me to think about the fact that I’ve been without Grandma Cichon longer than the time we were here together. But there’s happiness, too, of course…

She’s so much a part of who I am, what I do, and the way I do it… She’s very much here with me. She never said goodbye when someone would leave, it was always “Toodaloo,” with a smile and the knowledge we’d be seeing each other again soon.

After helping raise her six brothers and sisters, ten kids and a million nieces, nephews, and random kids from the neighborhood by the time she got to me– she had an incredible way of finding the thing she could help develop in a person and quietly make an impact.

When I was 6 or 7, she saw something in me that displayed a love of Buffalo History– and gave me a wonderful Buffalo historical photo-filled magazine (which of course I still have– I’m a pack rat just like her.)

More than just a love of history and the past, Grandma loved what was new and exciting, too. She took us kids on the bus from South Buffalo to Hertel Avenue for the first year of the Italian Festival in its new location there.

She took us (again on the bus) to the “new show” when the new downtown movie theaters opened. Of course, her handbag was filled with cans of Faygo pop and that cheap waxy candy from D&K.

When I was 8 or 9 and started sneaking up to watch Johnny Carson’s monologue, she was the only person I knew who also watched Carson, so she was the only one I could talk to about all the great jokes. It was Grandma Cichon who suggested that I might like David Letterman, too… Even though I was in fifth grade and his show started at 12:30am.

Uncovering Buffalo’s history and trying to make people smile are the very foundation of who I am– in no small part thanks to Grandma Cichon. But it’s not just me, it’s dozens of people, and the people they’ve since touched.

She was really tough, and definitely not the type to tell you that you were a special snowflake. But even better, she saw what was special in you, and without pomp, circumstance, or self-congratulation, she helped you cultivate it, whether you realized it or not.

What would have been her 90th birthday comes up on July 4th. She remains a definitive example of The Greatest Generation and a definitive example of a wonderful grandma.

Diners, road trips, and sunbleached maps in the glove compartment

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

I first stumbled on this diner driving the back roads to Washington DC as a high school kid, and I have the same feeling for the Miss Worcester Diner in Worcester MA— which I found on my way to Boston as a teenager.
The Diner in Wellsboro, PA is my all-time favorite diner. I am genuinely excited, but I think Monica is mocking me. Hahaha
In both cases, I pulled out my giant road atlas, and created my own routes with little more to go on than little numbers pasted on top of colored lines criss-crossing the wide open country between where I was and where I was heading.
The place is on Route 6, and to stay on the route, you have to make a left hand turn which puts you right in front of the diner. It’s about 3 hours out of Buffalo, and the perfect spot for a break.
I was so excited to find an actual diner car diner– but then was just beside myself when the food was great, too.
My preference was always for state roads and US highways over interstates. I’d the back roads with the hopes of finding great places like this one in those dark pre-Internet days, but there was never a guarantee, which made turning a seven hour trip into an 11 hour one tough when you wound up eating at McDonald’s anyway a lot of the time.
But that really was part of the fun for me. There’s no more serendipity in road trips, mostly because it’s so much easier to plan a trip that’s as fast as possible and hits plenty of neat stuff along the way, too.
Planning a road trip 2018 style, with Google searches for “Pennsylvia diners” and “Donut shops near Harrisburg,” and then having perfect turn-by-turn directions spit out by a smart phone app is wonderful, and I wouldn’t give it up.
But it just can’t replace the wonderful feeling of hitting the open road, and hoping to stumble into some great place to grab breakfast or a meatloaf dinner along the way, and spreading open that map as the waitress fills your second cup of coffee, and maybe gives you an idea about a good place to stop a few hours down the road.
You can do all that now, but it feels antiquated and forced with so many better options. I liked when it was the best option.
And my 25 year love affair with the Wellsboro Diner is a reminder of my discovery of how amazing a road trip– and life–can be, when you leave room for magic.

A brief memoir in depression and anxiety

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Most of us hear about the lurid details of a suicide and can’t even fathom hanging ourselves by a belt from a door knob like Robin Williams did. Seems impossible that he would, either. He was always the life of the party, always smiling and trying making people laugh.

Most of us can’t rectify being so despondent that, like Kate Spade, you can coherently write a note to your 13 year old daughter and explain why you’re about to end your own life. Beyond that, it seems incongruous with the bright, sunny fashionable mark she made in the world.

And now Anthony Bourdain has taken his own life in a hotel room in arguably the most beautiful city in the world. This was a man who could seemingly find common ground and connect with anyone, in any place, and be comfortable any place in the world.

We talk about and make social media posts about the tragedy and the incongruity of it all, with the lamentation, “had they only gotten help.”

Not me. I painfully understand the struggle to overcome depression and anxiety.

It’s not easy to publicly say, “I’m crazy,” but it’s true, and I might as well put it that way right here– because that’s what society will say once this is published. And that’s a big part of the problem.

Actually, for me right now, it’s a wonderful point to come to– being able to share all this regret-free and without reservation. It’s been a very long time coming. Though I didn’t always know what it was,  I have been suffering from depression and anxiety for as long as I can remember.

We don’t talk about mental health, because despite what anyone says, the stigma is still too great. You will read this and never think of me the same way again.

The massive outpouring of people trying to understand their feelings about the usually tragic newsworthy manifestations of mental illness means the willingness is there, but there doesn’t seem to be much movement beyond the mental health version of “thoughts and prayers,” which is asking our universe generically to “get help” if they need it.

Just like offering “thoughts and prayers,” a general “get help” plea is well-intentioned and from the heart, but it can’t be the final word if this is going to get any better.

I’m sharing my story so you might have some insight into how my brain works, but also how you might be able to help.

Please know it’s very difficult for me to talk about any of these things without humor to deaden the reality, because the last thing I want you to do is feel like I do. But you need to know.

I didn’t know what that hell was wrong with me, as far back as middle school.

Even though people close to me were (now) clearly suffering the same way I was, I didn’t know because no one ever talked about it.

As far as I knew, mental illness was like Daffy Duck, bouncing on his head, yanking on his tongue, screaming, “HOO- HOO, HOO-HOO, HOO-HOO.”

I couldn’t have known that I was suffering from something routine and curable. More than Daffy Duck head bouncing, I felt a great weight on me, both metaphorically and physically sometimes. My arms and legs and chest feel heavy.

Sometimes it felt like going through life was like trying to walk through deep mud.

Sometimes it felt like my body was being weighed down by a soaking wet, heavy  woolen blanket, sometimes with bricks on top of those blankets.

Depression and sadness, I thought, were kind of the same thing, right?

I’m a happy guy, not sad. What I felt was more like the heart and soul of any given moment in life could be ripped out– still bleeding– and leaving me with a heavy, aching pain and an inward sucking emptiness vacuum which swallows up everything in sight that isn’t tied down. I could fight through that devastation and have some part of me still feel happy. Sadness wasn’t a part of it.

I thought anxiousness is just what makes you sweat before a test.

I don’t need a test or any other reason. Without warning or provocation, my heart races and energy shoots through my arms and legs, which at the same time are rendered tingly and unstable while also in need of fidgety motion, trying to nervously vibrate the physical feeling away,  as my mind feels like it is physically unraveling. This is a run on sentence, but it’s a run on sensation.

All of these things have been a part of who I am, in varying degrees, literally as long as I can remember.

But that didn’t mean I knew what I was dealing with. At one point, I didn’t know I needed help because I didn’t know what was wrong.

It was a lonely shameful feeling that I was some how damaged in a way that no one could possibly understand.

I’d heard about and even written papers about mental illness and dealt with family members with mental illness, and none of it sounded even vaguely familiar.

There wasn’t a single person who ever spoke personally about their struggle in a way that could help me understand my own. All I knew was there was help for bat shit crazy people who were ready to kill themselves (and those people should get help.)

I saw those people portrayed on episodes of Matlock. I wasn’t wearing a black t-shirt while listening to Nirvana, so I was OK. Crazy? Suicidal? That wasn’t me.

Even after a student in my high school hanged herself, I didn’t know that it’s very likely she was going through the same sorts of things I was– but there was never a discussion other than “get help.”

I had no idea that I was one of those people that should be getting help.

I can remember with sparkling clarity the moment that all the sudden I had a diagnosis for what was going on inside of me.

At a particularly low point, I was sitting alone in the ICU waiting room at the VA hospital, with my ol’man’s life hanging by a thread just inside the double swinging doors to my right.

In that moment, from the pages of a crumpled, coffee-stained magazine I’d been mindlessly flipping through, I unexpectedly received all my answers in three or four quick pages.

An article about Mike Wallace and his mental health battles moved from quickly scanning it to suddenly hanging on every word.

This was me.

All at once, everything that I’d been feeling  made sense, and things fit together and lined up now. It was (finally) a personal story where he spelled out what he was getting help for– and it was as if he was telling my story.

It was a tremendous relief, but it was also in that same moment I was instantly awash in the fear and stigma of what this was.

I was no longer alone, but now even lonelier. My suffering was nothing special– but I didn’t know where to turn.

Alone, without seeking any help, I spent the next 10 or 15 years trying to handle it on my own. Handle this depression, which was becoming more entrenched and sedentary, and handle this anxiety, which was becoming more volatile and unwieldy.

Opposing urges making for deeper anguish.

–Editor’s note–Please don’t do this.

Despite the barrage of constantly generic pleas from media for people like me to get help, I now realized those calls were for me– I just didn’t have a road map to make it happen.

There’s a suicide hotline, but couldn’t find a “I’m getting worse and just need some guidance and explain how to get started in the process of getting better” hotline.

I was fearful that I was going to be locked up. I was fearful that I was going to be pumped with medication that would change the good parts as well as the parts that needed changing.

I was fearful of being judged by people who despite saying all the right words, didn’t really seem to get it.

I knew I needed to do something, but didn’t have the energy to start from scratch to figure out what the hell to do.

I lied in every mental health screen I’d ever been given. Maybe I wouldn’t have, if it didn’t feel like the people offering the exam didn’t seem to be going through a wrote exercise every time. I guess I don’t present as “in need or psychiatric services,” but I’m here to say there is no typical presentation.  Maybe if there was some feeling that the questioner really cared or somehow wanted to help, or even actually could really help, not just flip to the next page in the manual and urge me to “get help.”

Keep in mind, until this point, this is all inside of me. Never told a soul. How do you tell someone you love that you’re legitimately losing your shit, without having them lose their shit? I wasn’t about to find out, especially having still never met anyone ready or able to talk about the things that were going on with me.

I’d also spent a lifetime conditioning myself to “act normal,” no matter what was going on inside.

But just as I’d read with ol’Mike Wallace, things gradually got worse. Keeping the facade became more difficult.

I was trying to figure out how to “get help.” I knew I needed it, but my head wasn’t in a noose at this moment, so what do I do?

The commercials used to say something like, if you feel like your life is in jeopardy, if you are in crisis, call us before you do anything else.

I didn’t want to wait for that point, but there didn’t seem to be anything aimed at people not in the midst of imminent crisis.

Even web resources offered little other than “hey, call a suicide hotline.”

It’s difficult for me to imagine every cancer resource aimed at people with Stage 5 cancer, and telling everyone else, “wait around… you’ll get there eventually!”

That’s what it felt like.

Probably in the wake of Robin Williams or some similar jarring public awareness of mental illness, public conversations I was having on Facebook became private conversations which became my coming out party.

It was two separate on-going conversations with two people I’d have called “fond acquaintances” more than “friends,” at least until that moment. These were two people who were suffering in the same way I was, but were further along on the path to help. And my struggle became their struggle. It was a great rest and a break from decades of growing weariness.

Being able to talk about what had been inside of me for three decades was amazing, and really among the greatest gift anyone has ever given me.

Around that time, I also began making jokes and comments to my wife about some of these things going on in my head, using clinical names and getting her used to the idea that I would need to get to work on some of these things, and that it would make our life together better for both of us.

I didn’t have it in me to just spill it all out in one swoop. I knew I was playing with fire– not finding legitimate, professional help NOW– but I still felt a need to do this at my own pace.

–Editor’s note again–Please don’t do this.

It was still another three years of calling insurance companies, trying to find a doctor, all kinds of nonsense and excuses until when, earlier this year, I finally sat on a couch with someone across the room who had the training and skills to help me.

I wish I had found the proper help I needed sooner. I wish there was a better framework for people who are struggling with mental illness and the societal and social stigmas attached to have non-judgmental interactions with someone who can just be a friend to help guide through the process.

I wish I could have asked people conversationally about how their mental illness feels, where they go for help, but that just doesn’t happen.

I wish that my life wasn’t going to completely change when I hit send on this… but it will. And I’m ok with that, because carrying it around with me is just too much.

That’s what I feel, by the way, when I see the news of a suicide.

I feel the weight that they must have been carrying.

I take measure of my own weight, and hope and pray that the scale never tips and it’s too much.

“Get help,” sure, but you’ve no doubt seen the sky go from sunny and delightful to dark and stormy– seemingly in an instant. It’s unnerving to live in that kind of weather pattern every moment of every day, but it’s all you can do.

So,yes, please get help. But “get help” is a tiny seven letter phrase which can’t even begin to describe the totality of trying to untangle the frozen knots of all-consuming wretched darkness and hopelessness inside some of us.

None of us should think of it as just “get help.”

Again, it’s like telling someone who has cancer, “get help.”

Sometimes medicine and vigilance makes everything better for cancer and mental illness. Sometimes all kinds of medicines and procedures and fighting like hell still won’t do the trick.

The big difference is, of course, every suicide death is 100% preventable.

Sure, there’s a number to call, and I’ll paste it in here in just a moment… but more than anything else, the one thing we can all do— each one of us– to make suicide less likely in our individual corners of the universe, is to more regularly and more thoroughly practice human decency, compassion, and love.

Especially when it’s not easy. Especially when the person standing in front of you is an asshole.

The only way to stop the anger and sadness in the world is to be less angry and sad yourself.

No one knows that more than a depressed person.

Some part of me knows that’s why Robin Williams worked so hard to make people laugh, why Kate Spade worked to bring vibrant color to the world, why Anthony Bourdain worked to bring people together through food.

I am not a depressed person. I’m a happy, loving, compassionate, optimistic person who deals with depression and anxiety. I’m also working very hard to make sure that I’m remembered for the first half of that sentence and not the second.

It’s been my experience that people who suffer from depression and anxiety feel mostly the same things that everyone else feels, I think it’s just we’ve lost the throttle control on those feelings. Every feeling is just so rich and vibrant.  It’s like the instagram filter that makes the colors pop out vividly. There’s no little bit of feeling. It’s full blast and it’s truly wonderful– but it’s also exhausting.

It’s surely great to see your all-time favorite rock band live in concert, feeling the pulse of the music in your chest with smoke and lasers all around.  Sometimes, though, you’d just like to listen to that song on your iPod quietly while you’re sitting on a plane, trying to take a nap.

Tapping play on my emotional iPod brings the smoke and lasers every time. It’s all the feels all the time. Sometimes it’s exhilarating, sometimes it’s defeating, it’s always draining. It makes me a more compassionate and loving person– and I don’t think I’d want to change it–but a lot of times, it’s just too much.

So, I’m writing this because it exhausts me to pretend like it’s not there.

I’m writing this because you need to know that there are so many people suffering– but at the same time putting every ounce of their humanity into not suffering and trying to reduce the suffering of others.

I’m writing this because the weight of all these things hasn’t become too much for me, but it’s really impossible to know when that last straw might come.

I’m writing this because someone has to speak from the perspective of those who say there but for the grace of God go I.

Social media and dinner conversations are filled with people who don’t understand, because we who do understand don’t always have have the emotional strength or bandwidth to put the dark and ugly on public display.

I’m writing this so you might understand a little bit, and that understanding might make you want to be part of the answer.

The only answer I see is that all of us use up every bit of capacity for love and compassion that we have. We leave nothing in the tank. With family. With friends. With strangers. With that asshole in the grocery store.

It’s not a cure, but it’s what we can each do.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Call 1-800-273-8255
Available 24 hours everyday

Stan Jasinski’s Polish American Program

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

It was 18 years ago this weekend, on June 3, 2000, that a 60 year Buffalo radio career came to an end.

Stan Jasinski hung up his headphones and walked away from the weekly Polish American program he’d been hosting on Buffalo radio stations up and down the dial for more than half a century.

Maybe Stan’s broadcasts were something you enjoyed, or maybe you’re like me– I’d listen with my grandfather and only understand one or two words a sentence.

Stan Jasinski, WMMJ

Aside from a beloved host, Stan was also a businessman– having started a radio station and Channel 29 through the years.

Read & Hear More:

Stan Jasinski on WKBW, Christmas Day 1954

April 15, 1950: “Buffalo’s Polka King” starts daily radio show

If you’ve got the hankering for polkas now, make sure you tune in to Ronnie D’s Drive Time Polkas, Sunday mornings on WECK.

Steve and Stan Jasinski, mid 90s.

FOUND, finally: A pic of Dad’s bar

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

I found one of my holy grails today, although I didn’t immediately recognize it.

Elk & Smith, 1969

As soon as I saw it, I liked this photo immediately– lots of interesting things going on there– Old ambulances, old license plate, great old tavern sign, a church bingo sign, a grain elevator… When I flipped it over to read the caption on the back, my heart skipped a beat as it sank into my stomach. This is Elk and Smith Streets!

About ten years after this photo was snapped, my dad bought the bar that was called Ceil’s Grill when this photo was snapped. Spent a lot of time in this place as a tiny, tiny little boy… playing with the jukebox, pool table, shuffle bowling, and of course, the pop guns.

So with this, I finally have a photo of the exterior of my dad’s bar, which I’ve been looking for literally for decades.

That’s St. Stephen’s Church with the Bingo sign, and the Buffalo Malting Elevator (both currently under construction for reuse.)

Previously found on Facebook in 2016: an interior shot of Dad’s gin mill. “Not a great shot… but the place has only existed in my mind for more than 30 years. I remember the two guys shown— Rich McCarthy and Dick Lobaugh– from those days at the corner of Elk and Smith. Spent plenty of young childhood Saturday mornings spinning on those barstools, and getting bottles of Genesee out of the cooler for some of the guys who’d still be hanging around inside the bar when the sun came up.”

The bar burned to the ground in 1989, a few years after my dad sold it. It’s been a vacant lot ever since.

Nostalgia & el-cheapo donuts

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

The older I get, the more I understand nostalgia.

1980 ad.

I love honoring those who have come before us and fortifying our future with strong elements of our past— but pure nostalgia has always seemed a bit wasteful to me. I don’t want to live in the past– I want to understand the past to make for a better tomorrow.

Anyway, like I said, I understand nostalgia better with each day that passes. It seems like it wasn’t that long ago that I felt like I remembered everything that had ever happened in my life and how it made me feel.

With those days clearly gone, when something jogs something I’d forgotten, I feel a strong urge to get my hooks into it– knowing full well that those memories are the conduits to the more simple, more vibrant, more raw emotions of youth.

All this about a box of donuts, which I saw in a 1980 ad today while I was researching something else. These cheapo donuts, in this exact red, white, and blue box from Tops, were the only ones I ever remember in our house. Plain or powder, not even chocolate ones. Simple. Inexpensive. Not all that tasty by the standards of anyone who knows better. But the best, tastiest, most wonderful Paula’s donut couldn’t come half way in competing with what seeing this box meant as a 5 or 6 year old.

For a moment today, I got a little lost in that. I thought about how not having as much then makes what I have now so much better, and how someone who had a box of Freddie’s every week could never know the excitement of a box of lousy Tops donuts every couple of months.

And there’s no way to prove it, but presented with the same Paula’s donut, right now– there’s no way yours tastes as good as mine, with all the subconscious history attached and what a special treat it has always been.

Pure nostalgia just for the sake of it is still a turn off for me, but when that fleeting high helps me better understand where I am today, I’ll take it.

So long as you’re bringing the good donuts.

Steve and Monica Cichon at the iconic Randy’s Donuts, Inglewood, CA in 2014.

Everybody’s got their own stuff– don’t let it become your stuff

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

About ten of these can be summarized by saying, “everybody’s got their own insecurities and you have to know that– and not let the manifestations of other people’s bad feelings about themselves change your life.”

What 50-year-olds know that 20-year-olds often don’t

By Phyl Bean, theladders.com

I might have written that at 20, but probably thought that it was just something nice to say to someone who was struggling, and not necessarily completely true.

At 40, that notion is at the center of who I am, but it’s something I struggle with.

It’s mentally and intellectually easier to just be angry at someone than to be empathetic and try to understand or come to terms with why someone is being an asshole so that you can just get on with your own life.

Being angry is like setting the cruise control. Empathy and understanding takes work.

It’s exhausting, but it’s better for your soul than just assuming that everyone else’s life is sunshine, lollipops and rainbows… and you’re the only one with problems.

I’m glad I’m only 40, and in ten short years, I’ll have everything figured out by 50 like this lady. Hahaha.

The heartache of man’s imperfection in God’s church

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

The readings on Pentecost are my favorite readings. The message is wonderful and easily received, and I’ve always felt like it’s the one day in the Liturgical year where being a professional announcer was useful—being able to verbally make long lists into a story the people could better understand with my interpretation.

It’s with great sadness that it’ll likely be a long time before I’m able to use those skills which God gave me to help tell his story on Pentecost or any other day.

During my campaign for Erie County Clerk last year, I was relieved of all my ministries at my parish– sacristan, Eucharistic Minister, Lector, and altar server.

A two-word *political* stance printed in the newspaper apparently didn’t pass the *political* litmus test of The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, and without discussion and after an average of 18 hours of weekly volunteer work at my parish, I was stripped of my ministries via email.

On complicated matters of the heart– where questions of what is life and what is womanhood clash, I would expect more delicacy, understanding, and willingness to see good people trying to provide an environment where goodness and truth can thrive through better understanding and love.

That didn’t happen.

I am no longer able to use my God given ability to share His word or volunteer to unlock the doors for daily Mass. The way that happened has brought what has proven to be the greatest sadness of my life.

Some of the lowest points of my life have come sitting in Mass over the seven months, which is a painful contrast to the exuberance I have always felt in church.

Today’s readings– those favorite readings of mine– have brought me some comfort.

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”

The hardest working man in politics is also the nicest

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

These are the only kinds of photos you get with Erich Weyant— accidental ones, while he’s busy at work.

While Steve shakes hands at a parade, Erich Weyant looks on with camera in hand,

But especially on his birthday, I think that it’s important the world get a good look at one of the most decent, good natured, kind human beings I’ve ever met.

My friends, my family, and anyone who supported my bid for County Clerk should also know that the only reason we came as close as we did was this guy right here.

He’s truly the only person who completely understood my reasoning and vision in running for elected office, while also sharing a commitment to that vision with the same amount of drive, drive, and determination that I had.

For that, I’ll never be able to repay him. (Except by embarrassing him in posts like this on his birthday.)

“The Drury goal” and the elevator dent

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

One of the most memorable moments in Sabres History,  11 years ago today. Game 5, Sabres and Rangers. Jay Moran had already announced, “last minute in regulation time” over the PA. The Sabres were down by a goal.

Then this happened:

“The Drury Goal” made for one of the my most memorable moments in covering sports.

I was in HSBC Arena covering the game, but I didn’t get to see the goal live.

Reporters have to be down in the dressing room/interview room area when the game ends, so we start leaving the pressbox and getting on the elevators with a few minutes left in regulation.

Especially for a playoff game, there are maybe 30 people crammed onto a cargo elevator with a little TV in the corner with the game on. I happened to be jammed next to two of the Rangers players who were scratched from the lineup.

As the elevator very slowly groaned down the five or six levels, I was close enough to hear them talk about their plans for visiting with friends and family during the next round of the playoffs. The win was about to put the Rangers up 3-2 in the series, with the teams heading to New York City for Game 6.

But that quickly changed.

When Drury scored that goal, the elevator shook with the rest of the building. There’s no cheering in the pressbox, but there was an audible bleat of excitement as Jeanneret’s amazing mindless call blared out of the tinny speaker on the tiny TV in the corner of the elevator.

The only noise that wasn’t excitement came from the foot of that New York Rangers player, whose body pressed up against mine when he made the motion to backwards kick the wall of the elevator with his heel– leaving a dent that was there at least through the following season.

That little dent made me smile every time I saw it. The Rangers didn’t make it to the next round of the playoffs. One of my favorite moments in 20 years of covering sports.

Sabres #23 Chris Drury goal with #19 Tim Connolly, during the third period of their game at the HSBC arena in Buffalo, Friday May 4, 2007. (Buffalo News photo/ Mark MULVILLE)