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)

Thank you for sharing your hearts and souls

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

A year ago today I officially announced my candidacy for Erie County Clerk.
If I learned anything over what was –in nearly every way imaginable– the most difficult year of my life, I learned that politics comes alive not in parties or policies or lawn signs, but only when the hearts and souls of the people are touched.
I’m proud to say that we had more heart and soul and love in our nine months on the campaign trail than many of the political lifers have in 40 years of campaigning.
104,000 of our friends and neighbors filled in the bubble next to my name because you made my hopes and dreams your hopes and dreams.
I’m forever indebted to the family and friends old and new who showed so much support and love last year– thanks, now and forever, from the bottom of my heart.

Lovin’ on Letterman back in high school

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Cleaning up in the attic, one box had some high school files in it, including a screen print of a David Letterman drawing I did in 10th grade.

screen print of my 10th grade David Letterman drawing.

I was such a big fan to the point where I wore sneakers with my double-breasted sport coats just like Dave… and, at just barely 16 years old, I used my first radio paycheck (judging by the date on this invoice) to mail order a box of 50 cigars– so I could drive around in my ’74 VW, wearing a bow tie, heading to my job at a radio station with a big ol’stogie going, paying tribute to Letterman and having about the greatest existence any 16 year old could ask for.

I think my plan was to make some kind of “public art installation” (aka graffiti) with my silk screen Dave… but as I recall, the ink didn’t stick to the surface I tried to plaster. What a pisspot. (I don’t think I could define pisspot, but I know one when I see one. And the older I get, the more of them I see!)

33 years later, no longer a cart machine owner

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Milestone: For the first time since 1986, I cannot say the I own a working cart machine.

“Polishing the cart machine” was not a euphemism in my house.

A friend asked me to digitize some carts for him, which I was happy to do– until I tried all four of the cart machines I have in my attic, and they’ve all run out of gas.

On a beautiful summer day when I was 9 years old, my friend gave me the big rack mountable Spotmaster cart machine I’m so diligently cleaning in this photo (while wearing my dad’s dog tags in my bedroom, c. 1989.)

I balanced it on the seat of my bike for the few blocks back to my house, and I’ve had a “real radio station” at home ever since.

Owning a cart machine when I was 9 probably made me feel more like a true radio guy than I do showing up to write and read the news every morning…

Carts have been a part of my life for a long time– playing music and commercials, and taking hours to create audio production pieces that now take about 15 minutes of a computer.

I’ll miss not having a working cart machine, but I’ll hang on to the worn out ones I have– you never know when you’ll need a good boat anchor or three.