Just trying to be nice

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

We are in an age where people love to be offended, even when they have no right to be, and it manifests itself in all sorts of strange ways.

Saying “Happy Holidays, ma’am” to this woman could very easily get you stabbed in 2013.
Saying “Happy Holidays, ma’am” to this woman could very easily get you stabbed in 2013.

Certain words and phrases, meant to share warm tidings and respect, are quickly becoming (if they aren’t already) taboo, and it makes my brain want to explode like oatmeal left in the microwave too long.

Specifically two phrases, always offered to convey gladness of heart and civility, seem now to inspire my fists to leap forth in rage against people who would rather take offense than appreciate what is being shared in a simple word or two.

Today, I’m thinking about “Happy Holidays” and “ma’am.”

HAPPY HOLIDAYS

I am a church-going Christian. When I wish you “Happy Holidays,” I have three goals in mind:

1.) I am wishing (praying, actually) that you and your family are touched by the beauty of this season.

2.) Brevity. Depending on the timing, I don’t want to say, “Hey! I hope you and your family have a great Thanksgiving, a merry Christmas, and a happy new year, and possibly nice Hanukkah, too.” That’s a lot of words. I say “Happy holidays” (even in CHURCH, when I’m wearing MINISTERIAL GARMENTS and stuff) to convey all the goodness of all those things.

3.) Inclusion. On Christmas eve, I’ll wish everyone and anyone a Merry Christmas. I would hope that even people who don’t celebrate Christmas can feel and appreciate the overwhelming beauty in people during holiday, even if that means sitting home and quietly reading or going out for Chinese food because there is nothing else to do.

It’s not a war on Christmas when I wish someone Happy Holidays. “Happy Holidays” is what’s in my heart, and I’m sharing it with you. If someone else wants to start listening to Christmas music on Columbus Day and wishing people a Merry Christmas while they are still raking leaves, they should be allowed to do so. But it’s not for me.

Personally, I think wishing someone a “Merry Christmas” while you still have Thanksgiving leftovers in your fridge is a bit much, especially when you don’t mean it. Worrying about whether a miserable cashier mindlessly grumbles Thank you for shopping at Walmart and doesn’t mean it, or if they grumble happy holidays or Merry Christmas– it doesn’t much matter to me.

Unfortunately, the feeling is usually more “f-you” than whatever the words are meant to convey anyway. Either way, I usually try to smile, and offer some cheer in their day, and say warm words which I truly mean one way or another.

If someone warmly looks me in the eye, and tells me to have a great holiday, I get it, and give it back. Bask in it and share it. Preach the gospel, use words when necessary.

I don’t like that teachers and store clerks and other people aren’t allowed to say Merry Christmas, but I also think living it is more important. And living it involves looking into people’s hearts and leaving some love — not indignation– behind.

Or, if you want to treat people’s however-thinly-inspired attempts at warm tidings disrespectfully, maybe you should go for the throat and just drop an f-bomb on them.

MA’AM

Ma’am is the one that really kills me. I strive to treat everyone with courtesy and respect. Whether you are a 7 year-old female, or a 79 year-old female; whether you are serving me or being served by me, I will address you as “ma’am,” and humbly treat you with the dignity and respect afforded to someone worthy of the title “ma’am.” Too often the response is not respectful in turn.

“Do I look that old?”

“My mother is a ma’am!”

Get over yourself. Like I said, I make no judgement calls. No matter your age, no matter your station in life, you deserve my respect and I pay it to you with a respectful title. I respectfully request that you not scoff in my face when I offer you the respect you deserve, whether you realize it or not.

If you ask me, “Do I look that old,” the answer is probably yes. Some people, myself among them, don’t take compliments well, and I understand that this might somehow be related to that. However, I can’t control that you are no longer 19 and a size whatever, and calling you ma’am seems to underline that in your head.

The truth is, I’d call a 19 year-old in size-whatever ma’am as well. And I (or someone like me) did call you ma’am, you just didn’t hear it because you didn’t care back then what a screwball in a bow tie called you. Now you feel old and you take it out on me. Get over yourself. Learn to appreciate people respecting you for being a human being and a woman. Please. I’d hate to have to turn to the only other generic greeting I have for females, and I fear it would cause much more consternation.

So I guess it’s your choice, ladies. Would you like thank you, ma’am, or ‘s’up, slut? If you’d be offended by “slut,” you should likely be appreciative the opposite, “ma’am.”

Yes, I am pontificating. Yes, I suppose I’m being judgmental and a tad hypocritical, too. But people’s reaction to my intentions really doesn’t change the intention in my heart.

So, I say to everyone reading this, with a warm smile, “Happy Holidays, ma’am,” even if you’re dropping an “f-you, slut” on me.

This page originally appeared at TrendingBuffalo.com

UFOs on the Niagara Frontier

Are we alone out there? While many of us still ponder that question, it’s no longer a question that receives the sort of mainstream media attention that it once did. At some point, we stopped thinking of UFO sightings as news. Maybe it was around the time society started thinking of people who see UFOs as fringe kooks. But through the 1950s and 60s, everyday people made reports– and those reports were in turn, put in print.

Buffalo-NY-Courier-Express-1951-a-6082

A joking paragraph in 1951 Courier-Express article

Here are a few of those reports from Buffalo area newspapers. They show the cross-section of opinion with a mix of straightforward reporting, sensationalism, and skepticism.

Since conspiracy theories abound,  rest assured the only edits made to these images were, in some cases, taking the date and name of the newspaper from the page on which the story occurred,  and resizing it and pasting it to the top of the story. Nothing else was changed from the microfilmed copies of the newspapers.

 

Buffalo-NY-Courier-Express-1952-8442
This story was about DC, and made no mention of Buffalo.

Buffalo-NY-Courier-Express-1950-2451

Buffalo-NY-Courier-Express-1950-3518

Buffalo-NY-Courier-Express-1952-7923

Buffalo-NY-Courier-Express-1952-8752

North-Tonawanda-NY-Evening-News-1966-a-Grayscale-3653

Lockport-NY-Union-Sun-Journal-1967-1664

Niagara-Falls-NY-Gazette-1968-Jun-Grayscale-0249

Niagara-Falls-NY-Gazette-1971-Sep-1

Niagara-Falls-NY-Gazette-1971-Sep-2

Courier Express, 1969

 

This page originally appeared at TrendingBuffalo.com

Photos from Buffalo’s Jimmy Griffin years

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

He remains one of the most popular figures in Buffalo’s history. He was also one of the most vilified.

Jimmy Griffin was Mayor of Buffalo from 1978-1993. No one has ever held the post longer, and it’s a pretty good bet that no one ever had more fun doing the job. He got things done. Like Pilot Field. And the waterfront. And the Theatre District. And getting people to stay home and enjoy a six pack instead of heading out into the Blizzard of ’85.

Look at the smile on this guy’s face in nearly every photo, and tell me he’s not having a good time.

Mayor Griffin with Burt Reynolds, when he was in town shooting "Best Friends."
Mayor Griffin with Burt Reynolds, when he was in town shooting “Best Friends.”
Mayor Griffin had a car phone in the 80s. When they were REALLY cool.
Mayor Griffin had a car phone in the 80s. When they were REALLY cool.
Reeling in a Lake Erie mermaid with lawmaker Mary Lou Rath.
Reeling in a Lake Erie mermaid with lawmaker Mary Lou Rath.
Hizzoner was a natural behind the controls of a front loader.
Hizzoner was a natural behind the controls of a front loader.
He was also a natural on an elephant, leading the circus parade into the Aud.
He was also a natural on an elephant, leading the circus parade into the Aud.
With Seymour Knox on the Aud ice…
With Seymour Knox on the Aud ice…
Jim Griffin: Buffalo’s original Irish dancer? with Mercy sisters wearing Talking Proud buttons, dancers, and County Executive Ed Rutkowski
Jim Griffin: Buffalo’s original Irish dancer? with Mercy sisters wearing Talking Proud buttons, dancers, and County Executive Ed Rutkowski
Jim Griffin’s leadership spawned waterfront construction…
Jim Griffin’s leadership spawned waterfront construction…
Two rockstar Jims of 80s Buffalo… Jim Kelly and Jim Griffin
Two rockstar Jims of 80s Buffalo… Jim Kelly and Jim Griffin
The ol’Rockpile… Griffin’s tenacity and will pushed though the building of Pilot Field…
The ol’Rockpile… Griffin’s tenacity and will pushed though the building of Pilot Field…
County Executive Ed Rutkowski, The Mayor, and Danny Neaverth on the streets of South Buffalo…
County Executive Ed Rutkowski, The Mayor, and Danny Neaverth on the streets of South Buffalo…
A true man of the people and a one-time gin mill owner, Mayor Griffin poured a fine beer…
A true man of the people and a one-time gin mill owner, Mayor Griffin poured a fine beer…

These photos are among the roughly 200 photos which come from a new book about Buffalo’s beloved mayor.

A Buffalo Scrapbook: Gimme Jimmy! The James D. Griffin Story in his own Words and Photos, by Steve Cichon, will be in stores next week, or you can order a copy now at www.mayorgriffin.com  and have it delivered to your home by next week.

This page originally appeared at TrendingBuffalo.com

The cars of our childhood

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

I saw a pristine 1990 Chevy Lumina over the weekend. I actually drove a Lumina for a while, but my thoughts turned to a great friend who drove a Lumina, too. Radio newsman Ed Little looked classy behind the wheel of his always well-maintained, respectable mid-sized General Motors sedan. The hipster who was driving it on Sunday was more ironic than classy.
My dad loved cars– looking at them and driving them. He’d always excitedly point out cars that he or someone he knew once owned. As a young man, he drove sports cars like an MG and muscle cars like an AMC Javelin. Of course, I now point out old cars to anyone who will listen.

Just like with my ol’man, seeing an old car that reminds me of a car from my past is one of those instant mood changers for me. I’ve owned a few interesting cars through the years, like a white 1971 Mercedes. Very eye catching, but not too comfortable to drive. I love my ’86 VW Golf, ’95 Plymouth Neon, and ’97 Honda Civic. Those cars weren’t spectacular, but they were comfortable and easy to drive. When I see one, I want to drive it.

But the real memories come from those cars my dad and my grandpas had long before I could drive.

chevrolet_lumina_2
First- Here’s that Lumina, like the one Ed Little had. I’d wait to see this car pull up to fine restaurants like Alice’s Kitchen, Your Host, Grandma’s Pancakes, and the Four Seasons.

aries-wood-panel
In the Cichon house, we had this exact car: a Dodge Aries station wagon with faux wood paneling and tan Naugahyde seats. We also had a black one, with red velvet seats. Nice.

spirit
There were also 2 AMC Spirits in our family. Grandpa Cichon had a white one with a big blue pinstripe, my family had a brown one.

spirit-interior
This is the exact interior of our 1981 Spirit. I hurt myself on the steering wheel playing Dukes of Hazzard, climbing in and out of the windows.

85-pontia-bonneville
Grandpa Cichon traded in the Spirit for a Pontiac Bonneville. It was in this car, my brother and I witnessed one of the great events in our lives up until that point. Usually calm Gramps got hosed at a full-service gas station. He unleashed a torrent of Polish-American cursing that remains with me nearly 30 years later. We i see this car, I think, “You G-dd-mmed horseball!!”

econoline-pickup

Grandpa Coyle would get a new Oldsmobile every year or two… But all though my childhood, he has this odd, pea green Ford pickup– Which was actually van without an enclosed back. There were only two seats, and I can remember fighting with my brother over which one of us would get to ride on the hump where the stick shift was… on the way to the hardware store.

greeg-ford-maverick
Finally my Great-Grandpa Wargo drove this beautiful pea green Ford Maverick. It was a car that was old and mysterious, just like Great-Grandpa. I especially liked that the old yellow NY plates had three numbers then BUX. I liked -BUX on a license plate. Our plates were boring by comparison.

What did your grandpa drive? I’d love to see it, tweet me @SteveBuffalo.

This page originally appeared at TrendingBuffalo.com

Ray Marks reflective as he fights for his life

By Steve Cichon | steve@buffalostories.com | @stevebuffalo

BUFFALO, NY – “It’s no picnic… It’s not pretty, but we have to go through it.”

This teacher and radio news man has been battling Leukemia since September, and is now slated for a January transplant.

Since his time as News Director at WGR Radio and WBEN Radio, Ray Marks (center, seated in the WGR Newsroom in the mid-1990s) has been teaching communications courses at St. Bonaventure, Buffalo State, and Medaille.(Buffalo Stories archives)

You may know him as Ray Marks, radio newsman. You may know him as Ray Markiewicz, professor and friend. But if you know Ray at all, you won’t be surprised to know that he’s come to deal with the overwhelming diagnosis of leukemia by wrestling the uncertainty of what’s to come into a long list of certainties to tackle one at a time.

“What a perspective, you know?”

Late last summer, Ray began to feel some unexplained weakness. A visit to the doctor quickly turned to a visit to Roswell Park Cancer Institute. After an especially painful bone marrow extraction, doctors were blunt and aggressive with their diagnosis and treatment plan. Get on board, or expect only a year to live.

1989, Buffalo Stories archives

That wasn’t easy to hear, but now since September, Ray’s endured round after round of chemotherapy, three shots in the stomach every time, along with blood and platelet transfusions as needed.

While painful and tiring, the course of treatment can only be temporary. The only hope of a cure is with a stem cell transplant.

Looking for Marrow Donors

1974, Buffalo Stories archives

Ray has siblings, but the fact that they are each over the age of 40, makes them ineligible as bone marrow donors. After going to the worldwide database, two donors have said they are willing to come forward to offer Ray his only chance at beating leukemia by allowing their stem cells to be harvested, flown Buffalo, and transplanted into Ray.

The surgery is planned for mid-January, and will likely be followed by a month long stay at Roswell Park, plus up to another 100 days of healing and convalescing at the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge. He’d prefer to get better at home, but for the Markiewicz family, home is in Angola, and doctors insist that a stem cell transplant patient be no more than 20 minutes from the hospital for fear of rejection.

“The way the doctor put it was, we want you here now if that happens,” said Markiewicz, who added that his home is a half-hour from downtown on a good day with no traffic.

“After all that, the hope is for a cure, but there’s no way to be sure,” Markiewicz said, quickly adding that he’s doing his best to remain hopeful. Any hope is better than the diagnosis of what was to come without the surgery. “She said I had one year to live without the surgery. We’re talking dying here.” The thought of possible pending death has given Ray plenty to reflect on.

“Realizing how terribly important to live life to the fullest. I don’t have any regret, but I appreciate everything I’ve experienced more. Why are we here? We live to make the world a better place,” said Markiewicz. “I want to continue to do that.”

He’s thought a lot about his nearly 40 years in broadcasting, and the great friends, co-workers, and friendly competitors he feels honored to have known, but his primary focus these days outside of health and family has been on his relatively new-found love of the classroom.

Through the treatments, Ray has continued to teach two fall semester classes at Medaille College. “I love teaching, it means a lot to me, and believe it or not, I feel better while I’m doing it. It’s been tough… It’s getting hard, but I thought, ‘I can do this,’ and I’m going to finish it. It’s helpful when the endorphins fly. I love it, and it helps keep me going.”

Helping Ray

With the hopes of raising both his spirits and some funds to help alleviate the financial burden of his treatment, the friends and family Ray Markiewicz have organized a benefit in his honor in January.

Whether you worked with Ray, were taught or mentored by him, listened to him on the radio, or are just willing to help out a fellow Western New Yorker who needs a hand, event planners are looking for raffle basket and special auction donations, folks willing to buy a ticket, or maybe just a donation.

The event is Saturday, January 11, 2014, from 1-6 at the Newell-Faulkner American Legion Post 880 in Eden. Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for kids 10 and under.

Listen to a great newscast, which opens with Van Miller shouting “The Bills are in the Super Bowl!”

Remember your audience– and your audience doesn’t want to remember OJ

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

It was jarring. A relatively new-to-Buffalo TV news guy just referred to “former Bill OJ Simpson.” Um, yeah, we know dude. No need to remind us. Thanks.

There is no need for any further description of OJ Simpson. We all know who he is. If they are running some random story about a random old Bill, because he’s an old Bill, feel free to mention it.

But just landing in Buffalo, and deciding to start the latest on his current legal drama by reminding us of one of our most painful civic realities, just to show us that you, too, are aware of this heart-wrenching connection is too-smart by half and shouldn’t happen.

Personally, I’ve written and read hundreds of OJ stories as a news man, and never called him “former Bill OJ Simpson” on first reference. Ever. The words are superfluous, because we all know. What’s worse— we don’t want to hear about it, so no need to mention it.

Even worse than that, it had nothing to do with the story. I could write a book about why its a bad idea, and as a former news director, if you said that on my watch, I would write a book about it.

It’s not all or even mostly this guy’s fault. Part of the issue is the lack of surrounding crew. Ten years ago, you made that mistake once, and there were a dozen producers, photogs, etc to tell you the right thing to say. Now, chances are you are your own producer and photog.

A few months ago, a newbie weather guy mentioned elly-COTT-ville in a forecast. No one corrected the poor SOB and he continued to say it all morning.

I’m thankful we’re to the time of year when I can experience the youthful enthusiasm with which we’re told that one shouldn’t put their hand or foot in a snowblower. By a 22 year old woman with a mint julip accent— who may or not not have ever seen snow.

Like in anything else in life, you write for your audience. Not every fact which is new or interesting to you is new or interesting for your audience. It’s local news for local people. It’s not for someone from Germany or Florida or Rochester. It’s local….meant to appeal to locals.

Black Friday shopping in Buffalo…1968

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Even before it was called Black Friday, the Friday after Thanksgiving has long been the day where people decide they need to get their behinds in gear for Christmas present shopping.
Sattlers close thanksgivingThis year’s big Thanksgiving retail controversy surrounds the many stores which have decided to open on Thanksgiving day, taking employees away from their families and friends on one of the last vestiges of humanity left in our God-forsaken country. I think that’s how I heard the whole thing described.  Anyway, it seems the whole world is against this move, calling it unprecedented. Most would point to the notion brought forth in this Sattler’s ad from 1968, wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, and asking them to stop by after the holiday.

For decades, I worked in the radio and TV industry, which can’t shut down for holidays. Even when you hate holidays, hate your family, and have no friends, it’s still awful working on a holiday when the rest of the world isn’t.

There’s always a very small number of people who’ll say, “I’d rather work!” Those people need to find better ways to deal with their problems. Just like the people who are excited about being able to leave their families on Thanksgiving to go buy worthless, consumery presents for those same people they are leaving.

Even if you hate your family, you should still spend time with them. Sitting in an intoxicated stupor on the couch in the same house counts as spending time with your family. At least I hope so.

Anyway, Thanksgiving 2013 is NOT the first Thanksgiving where Buffalonians could leave their homes and shop on the big day itself. In 1968, IDS Department stores advertised their 4 area locations were open on Thanksgiving Day. Could that be part of the reason no one has ever heard of IDS 45 years later? Hmmmmm.

I think shopping on Thanksgiving is a terrible idea, and, like every good American should be, I will drunk on a couch–not shopping on Thursday.

So here is that IDS ad, and the first of about 60 others to come over the next few days… A quick visit back to some of the cool things you could buy… and some of the cool places you could buy them in. Black Friday 1968 in Buffalo. As you’re reading, keep in mind that government data says that a 1968 dollar is equal to $6.71 in 2013 money. Enjoy!

openThanksgiving

The IDS stores in Buffalo’s Central Park Plaza, Union Rd-Cheektowaga, Union Rd-Orchard Park, and Niagara Falls Blvd were open 10-5 Thanksgiving Day 1968.

admiral radios

Admiral radio’s AM/FM radio is $106.55 in today’s dollars

am&as corningware

Classic Corningware from AM&As

am&as dolls

AM&As

AM&As kids

AM&As massagers and curlers

Gifts for the lady from AM&As

am&as toys

More AM&As toys

am&as windows

come see the AM&As windows downtown…

bells can opener

Bells helping men buy presents for their wives…

Bergers by floor

LL Berger’s, six floors of holiday savings downtown

bergers CE

LL Berger’s and the Courier Express

boulevard mall

capecod junk

Junk from the Cape Cod store

capecod stores

century catalog

Century: one of Buffalo’s great catalogs used to pick your own gifts!

Century junk

Some of the junk available from Century

Hengerers James Bond racer

From Hengerer’s

hengerers iroquois lighter

Hengerer’s offered this great Iroquois Beer can lighter for only $2. Smoke ’em if you got em!

GEX

Half of a GEX ad… GEX was located where the Walden flea market now stands.

gutmans charge acct

Hey girls! Open your Marine Change at Gutman’s!

hengerers gifts mean more

Hengerer’s had about 10 pages of ads in the paper.

hengeres hottiesHengerers hotties

Hengerers

hens&kelly men

in 1960s mens ads, there was always a guy smoking a pipe, just like this Hens & Kelly ad. Always.

Don Cherry OWNED

Not an ad, but photo of Rochester Amerks Defenseman Don Cherry (4) getting owned by the AHL Buffalo Bisons. There’s a gift that keeps on giving.

Kleinhans Young men

Three Kleinhans locations

kmart blue light bargains for her'

kmart junk

K-Mart stuff

kmart toys

Toys from K-Mart

kmart

kmart blender

a subtle reminder from K-Mart that women like blenders

kmart TV

This TV and cart was at my grandma’s house. Its great to go through these ad to find the things that you remember…

Kresges phonograph

Kresges was owned by K-Mart, kinda like K-Mart, but not quite K-Mart. More like Woolworths.         Nice phonograph!!

Kobachers

Kobachers

Leader drug

Great stuff from Leader Drug

Leaders tempermental tessie

This was from Leaders. Don’t we all know women who, as girls, played with this doll a bit too much?

Main Place Mall

There used to be a mall downtown. Wait- BREAKING NEWS- there is still a mall downtown. Who knew? But when it opened, you could actually shop at Main Place Mall.

Neisners strange change toy

Was this toy at Neisner’s a result of early LSD experimentation?

Noahs Ark train

Great stuff from Noah’s Ark

Park Edge

Park Edge Grocery

Purchase radio label

Purchase Radio Label makers!!

Purchase ardaio modern pad

“For the modern pad.” Hahahaha.

sample ron burgundy

Ron Burgundy was apparently a model for The Sample

Sample santa

visit Santa at The Sample. Balloons are cheaper than candy canes, right?

sattlersmens

Sattlers has more guys with pipes

sattlers junk

From Sattlers: This stupid valet chair has been a popular item at WNY thrift stores for 30 years.

sattlers pets

Sattlers had freaking everything… Including dogs. ON SALE!!

Sears Toys

Toys from Sears…

Sears color tv

The ad is black and whte, but the big console TV is COLOR from Sears.

Sears Happy female dishwashers

More 1960s retail misogyny: Look how happy the females of the house are with the automatic dishwasher! Unloading in a dress even!

spoonley

A South Buffalo institution: Spoonley the Train Man

tankes rhymes with swanky

Tanke’s rhymes with Swanky’s. Very posh.

Town Squire

Town Squire in Allentown. This ad was on the theatre page.

ulbrichs junk

Ulbrich’s (junk)

woolworths

My mom might still have some of this Woolworth’s wrapping paper

This page originally appeared at TrendingBuffalo.com

November, 1963: Remembering How Buffalo Remembered JFK

 

By Steve Cichon | steve@buffalostories.com | @stevebuffalo

BUFFALO, NY – John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas 50 years ago today.

Caption from a Courier-Express photo of the JFK memorial service, held on the steps of City Hall, in the days following the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy on November 22, 1963. Photos from the event are posted below. (Buffalo Stories/Staffannouncer.com archives )

As the nation mourned, Buffalo mourned, and maybe more so. The largely Catholic Buffalo had a special interest in the nation’s first Catholic president. Hundreds of thousands of Western New Yorkers also had a special connection with Kennedy, having seen him in person during his two visits to the area, one in the weeks leading up to his election in 1960, and another, a year and a half before he was assassinated in 1962. (I wrote a column with more on JFK’s 1960 visit to Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Wheatfield, North Tonawanda, and Lockport earlier this week. )

Here are photos from Buffalo’s two newspapers, the Evening News and the Courier-Express, as a city mourned a President. They are, as published, in mourning and in memory, in the days following the assassination in Dallas.


The somewhat rare first bulletin newspaper





A Buffalonian so distraught he smashed his radio on the floor of his Main Street store upon hearing the news…







People watching the television coverage of the assassination in horror at Buffalo State College’s student union.



Kennedy speaks to 100,000 in Niagara Square in 1962.


JFK greets well-wishers in Niagara Falls in 1960.


Mayor Kowal leads a memorial service.


Mourners on Niagara Square













Dad knows best, so shut the eff up

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

I did something great yesterday. I told myself to shut the f*** up, and I really meant it.

For a very long time, I’ve been doing an exaggerated impression of my dad, saying with disgust, “Just… shut… the f*** … up–”

He was not a fan of people annoying him by going “chirp, chirp, chirp” as he’d say while doing the blah, blah, blah hand motion.

Dad, 1984. He’d have preferred you just have an Old Milwaukee tall boy and shut up.
Dad, 1984. He’d have preferred you just have an Old Milwaukee tall boy and shut up.

Now, my dad was a great father and fantastic in many ways. In this case, though, he was fantastically lacking in patience, and fantastically succinct in his expression of that lack of patience.

That phrase, an exasperated, “Just… shut… the f*** … uuUUP–” came out of his mouth when he was at the end of his rope, but more “tired of it” than angry. Of course, that made it an expression commonly uttered by the ol’man, in that exact peculiar way. That strong suggestion would be offered to us kids, to my mother, to the dog, and to the TV when Don Paul was talking about something that didn’t have to do with whether it was going to rain tomorrow.

“Just… shut… the f*** … uuUUP–”

When I first started saying this phrase in this way in the company of my wife, she no doubt recognized the dramatic style as a nod to the Master of the cranky curse-riddled tirade. As time went on though, and as more and more of my personality (d)evolved into something closer to that of my ol’man’s– I think that phrase has become mine.

We are at a point where my wife knows I’m thinking it even before I do most of the time. She’ll smile, and say, “C’mon, say it.” Honestly, we both know I say it mostly for comedic effect. But as time wears on, that little kernel of truth which makes comedy funny– my actual living, breathing desire for that person to STFU… well, that little kernel seems to be growing into a greater desire for clamped mouths every time I say it. Soon, I too will be swearing at TV weathermen.

But yesterday, I was talking things over with myself, mostly being a whiny bitch, when out of nowhere, I realized what I sounded like in my own head, and had enough. I told myself to just… shut… the f*** … up. Dad would have been proud, because I meant it just as much as the ol’man meant it when Don Paul started cracking jokes about Thanksgiving leftovers one time in 1991 or so.

We all have problems, and even those of us who try to maintain a steely exterior, might sometimes get a little whiny in the doubts that share with ourselves about those problems. I know it’s not the solution for everything, but wow– realizing you’re always a loser when you play the self-pity game, and figuratively punching yourself in the face is really a great feeling.

So, the next time you start to feel all “woe is me,” remind yourself to just… shut… the f*** … up. Or call me to complain. I’ll be happy to channel the ol’man and tell you exactly what I think you should do.

This page originally appeared at TrendingBuffalo.com

JFK in WNY

By Steve Cichon | steve@buffalostories.com | @stevebuffalo

BUFFALO, NY – JFK was important to the people of Buffalo, maybe even more so than the rest of the country. In 1962, 400,000 people came to see him here. Four-hundred thousand. Even if that is exaggerated by double, when is the last time 200,000 Buffalonians were measured doing anything together at the same time– aside from sitting on our collective well-padded ass watching sports on TV?

LOGO-JFK-Aud-172x300The truth is, I’m on Kennedy overload right now, but I know I have no right to complain about it. For the people who remember, 50 years later, it remains one of the saddest days of their lives, a sadness shared with an entire grieving nation. For most, it felt as if a member of the family had been shot and killed. Not anger, just sadness and grief.

As a little kid in the late 70s/early 80s, the Kennedy assassination seemed to me like the biggest thing that had ever happened in American History.

Everyone knew where they were when it happened. Msgr. Toomey came into my mom’s classroom at St. Teresa’s on Seneca Street.

But it wasn’t just the assassination, it’s who Kennedy was, and what he represented to the people in my family. My dad’s whole school– St. Stephen’s on Elk Street– got to leave class when President Kennedy’s limo came the wrong way down the 190 and got off at Smith Street… Then got right back on again. Kennedy got off the Thruway… so people could see his car and wave. There may have been some other technical reason, but technicality be damned for my 10 year old dad.

Kennedy came to Buffalo twice– as President, he paraded down Broadway and spoke in Niagara Square on Pulaski Day in 1962. There are great photos and memories from this day all over the web, including here http://www.forgottenbuffalo.com/buffalospoloniahistory/pulaskiparade1962.html

But somewhat forgotten, was his swing through Western New York as Senator Kennedy, running for President in 1960, only a week after the famous televised debate against Richard Nixon.

These are some photos from when the dynamic young Massachusetts Senator spent the day our backyard, from the archives of Buffalo Stories LLC and staffannouncer.com, as seen in the pages of the Courier-Express in 1960.

 

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Buffalo Mayor Frank Sedita with JFK at the Aud.

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JFK with Niagara Falls Mayor Keller

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JFK motorcade on Pine Avenue in the Falls
JFK speaks outside North Tonawanda City Hall
JFK speaks outside North Tonawanda City Hall
An impromptu JFK speech in Wheatfield
An impromptu JFK speech in Wheatfield

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All images from the Buffalo Courier-Express and the BuffaloStories.com/Staffannouncer.com archives. This story originally appeared at TrendingBuffalo.com