Buffalo in the 90’s: Ice and the Hammer at the Aud

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Hammertime!

Buffalo Stories archives

“Exclusive” sticker patches from Kiss 98.5’s Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer concerts from the early 90s at Memorial Auditorium.

Vanilla Ice played Buffalo March 7, 1991 and MC Hammer played the Aud on October 13, 1990.

These were in the drawer of the desk I inherited down the hall from Kiss 98.5.

Buffalo in the 50’s: Before there was Irv..

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

From the Buffalo Evening News, Nov 29, 1958– the day before Channel 7 signed on the air for the first time.

Irv Weinstein was a newscaster at KB Radio at this point– Channel 7’s first news anchor was Roger Lund.

Stan Barron was on the sports desk, and Rick Azar– who was also the announcer who signed on the station– was Channel 7’s first weather man.

Buffalo Stories archives

Remembering WBEN-TV’s Visit With Santa (And Forgetful the Elf)

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Santa's WorkshopBUFFALO, NY – Alternately known as “A Visit with Santa,” “Santa’s Workshop,” or some combination thereof, The Santa Show brought the magic of the north pole into Buffalo living rooms on WBEN-TV from 1948 to 1973. The show ran for 15 minutes daily at 5pm from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve, and was the brainchild of WBEN-TV pioneer Fred Keller.

Santa was played by two men during the show’s 25 year run. Ed Dinsmore played the Jolliest of Elves from 1948 until his untimely death in 1954. WBEN staffer Bill Peters stepped in, and played the role for 19 years. Besides the Big Man, Warren Jacboer played “Freezy the Polar Bear,” both Gene Brook and Bud Hagman played “Grumbles the Elf,” and, arguably the most memorable cast member was Forgetful the Elf… as played by Johnny Eisenberger for nearly the entire run of the show.

The program was simple by our modern day TV standards– most of the 15 minutes consisted of Santa reading letters from WNY boys and girls. But its long run– and the feelings it engendered– makes it an all-time Buffalo classic.

Channel 4 helped deliver, on average, 50,000 letters a year to Ol’ St. Nick. The show was the first regular program broadcast in color in Buffalo starting in 1956.

The Two Men who Played Santa

dinsmore
Ed Dinsmore: Santa 1948-1954
peters
Bill Peters: Santa 1954-1973

 

 


Reformatted & Updated pages from staffannouncer.com finding a new home at buffalostories.com
Reformatted & Updated pages from staffannouncer.com finding a new home at buffalostories.com

The 13th Annual Buffalo Broadcasting Hall of Fame Honorees Announced

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

This story was published in Forever Young magazine

The Buffalo Broadcasting Hall of Fame swells its ranks by 5 once again this September, and in this, our lucky 13th year, we have finally begun to catch up. When the Buffalo Broadcasters began this process in 1997, we had 75 years worth of Western New York commercial broadcasting talent to consider.

Now, after dozens and dozens of inductees from the earliest days of radio and television, peppered with many of the more modern superstars along the way, the pendulum has swung. We are at a point now where we can honor broadcasters who’ve made their impact in the last quarter century,  while still honoring those greats who have passed on to the announce booth in the sky. Each of the broadcasters tapped for induction this year have been active during the last 18 years, and all but one within the last few.

One of the missions of the Buffalo Broadcasters is to celebrate great broadcasting past and present. We are proud that The Hall of Fame Class of 2009 celebrates some of both.

_

Marie Rice- A respected, straight street reporter at Channel 4 for an entire generation, Marie came on at WBEN-TV in 1977 as the woman in the vaunted station’s on-air news stable.

It was soon after her sign-on in Buffalo that the story perhaps best suited to her brand of straight-laced compassionate journalism began to unfold; it was one she’d continue to report on until she left WIVB in 2004. Marie Rice was one of the earliest journalists on the scene at Love Canal; at a time when home owners there just wanted to know what the ooze in their basements was.  She hopes, she says, that through her reporting she was able to make a difference. It’s all a part of public service; giving a voice to the voiceless.

The Ohio Native says everyone is blessed with a gift, and she counts her husky, commanding voice as hers. And while the tonal quality of that familiar voice struck the proper mood in reporting from murder trials and city hall scandals, before working in television news in Buffalo and Albany, Marie was known as “Misty,” as one of the country’s first female disc jockeys at an all-jazz station in Pittsburgh.

_

Pat Feldballe- The name would leave most wondering, but the smooth, consistent voice is one you’re unable to escape in Buffalo. From Channel 2’s promo pieces, to Valu Home Centers to Paddock Chevrolet, on on-hold messages, to the national Time/Life commercials, for a quarter century, Pat ihas been Western New York’s go-to independent voice-over king.

In 1970s you’d have heard him at WBUF, WGR, WGRQ, and WUWU playing rock’n roll, and hosting a magazine program (and working with Terry Gross) at WBFO. Pat eventually got the point when he’d show up for his jock shift and find a handful of production orders taped to the console for him to do. Figuring it was his destiny, he did a stint as a radio production director, but quickly decided, in 1982, that he could do production on his own. He hasn’t looked back.

In an industry where many production guys will try to sell clients on the latest and greatest gadget, Feldballe’s used the same microphone since 1986. It’s a part of all his success. “I’m the most consistent guy I know, I always sound the same, and I take pride in making sure reads time out,” says Pat. Just showing up and doing the work, doing it well, and making it easy for whoever’s using his work. “I just hung out the shingle 27 years ago, and here I am.”

_

Fred Klestine- Like most Lackawanna boys in the 1940s, Fred worked at the steel mill once he got out of school. But his bellowing voice and friendly, mellow personality helped him land a job as the morning man on WWOL Radio in the 1950s.

Whether at WWOL, WBNY, or during his decade at KB Radio during its 1960s Top 40 prime, Klestine always did what he could to share his love of jazz with his audience. He knew the music, and knew many of the performers personally. Klestine was a natural for the jazz-centric WADV-FM in the 70s, and worked at WBUF through the 80s.

To those who listened, he was a calm, straight-laced elder statesman type with a deep melodic voice. Off the air, he was a coffee-swilling funnyman. Longtime co-workers like Dan Neaverth and Sandy Beach count him not only as one of the funniest people each one has ever known, but as a great friend. Klestine was 68 when he died in 1992.

_

Randy Michaels- Randy Michaels became Randy Michaels in Buffalo. Literally. He made the most of federal deregulation in broadcasting in the mid 90s, and became Arguably the most powerful man in radio. He oversaw and led in the acquisition of over 1,000 radio stations as the  President of Jaycor Broadcasting, and later Clear Channel Communications.

Michaels started his career as an engineer and on air talent at the SUNY Fredonia campus station in the early 70’s. After an on-the-spot tryout at the Erie County Fair, he quickly moved to commercial radio at Taft-owned WGR and WGR-FM, where he took the pseudonym by which he’s still known today. Working in programming and as the nighttime disc jockey on WGR, Michaels soon left Buffalo for national programming assignments, moving his way up the food chain, eventually running the 1,200 Clear Channel Communications stations.

Michaels is now in Chicago at the top of the Tribune Company, which is the nation’s third largest newspaper publisher, and whose 23 television stations reach 80% of US households.

_

Don Polec- From 1977-1982, when Irv Weinstein smiled wryly and growled… And finally… at an Eyewitness Newscast, it was Don Polec’s time to shine; bringing the offbeat and, well, goofy to the airwaves.

A native of Buffalo’s Riverside section, Polec tried radio at WKBW, but found it wasn’t quite for him. After two years of managing a handful of different Burger King restaurants around the Western New York, Polec looked for work as a videographer. He sending Irv a resume that listed experience as an “urban sheep herder” and “professional vagrant.”  He was on the air, with that same sort of silliness, almost immediately thereafter.

Polec left Buffalo in 1982 for Philadelphia, where Action News featured antics his Western New York fans would recognize in “Don Polec’s World” reports until earlier this year. Polec’s Buffalo brand of zany-yet-artful reports were also featured on the national stage when he was a Good Morning America correspondent in the late 80s and early 90s.

_

The Buffalo Broadcasters are also celebrating several Golden anniversaries this year. WNED-TV, WBFO-FM, and WGRF-FM are each celebrating 50 years of broadcasting over the airwaves of Western New York.

For details on attending the Hall of Fame Ceremony, Tuesday September 22, 2009, at the WNED-TV studios; or for more information on the past inductees of the Buffalo Broadcast Hall of Fame, please visit www.buffalobroadcasters.com.

Steve Cichon is a news anchor at WBEN Radio, and a director and past President of the Buffalo Broadcasters. He’s also the webmaster at www.staffannouncer.com, a website devoted to Buffalo radio, TV, and pop culture history.

Cars and the Ol’man… and telling him about the new Civic

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

mg
MGB

My dad has always loved cars. While as a young single guy he had muscle cars (Like an AMC Javelin), and sporty convertibles ( Like an MG), he always took great pleasure in the hunt for new cars.

He enjoyed it even when he was buying wonderful (?!) family vehicles like our 1981 chocolate brown AMC Spirit with light brown pinstriping, or our 1983 Dodge Aries faux wood-panelled station wagon. I spent many weekend days driving from lot to lot with my dad… the newspaper filled with red circles around cars that could be the next Cichon Ride. We’d always go after hours as to avoid the salesmen.

The Cichon Clan.. before my sister was born.. So probably late 79/early 80.  I think my dad still wears that shirt.
The Cichon Clan.. before my sister was born.. So probably late 79/early 80.  I think my dad still wears that shirt.

I learned alot from my dad about shopping for cars, not all of it good. First thing to check: Check to see if the door was left unlocked. Bonus checking out the seat time if yes. If not, squinting and moving your head around the driver’s side window. “Can you see the mileage, Steve-o?”

There were other things to look for, too. “See, son? New tires on this one.” That was always a big selling point with the old man, who seemingly never stopped shopping for a new car. My wife would laugh if she knew that during our most recent car shopping experience in particular, she was actually shopping with my dad via me. Life is much esier once you admit to yourself that, in some ways, it is inevitable to become your parent.

Dad’s car obsession continues to this day, though the old man, now with only one leg, hasn’t driven in probably 7 or 8 years. “I’ll be driving soon,” is something you’ll hear him saying often. And you’ll still find Autotrader magazines with big, heavy red circles all over the house.

And then there’s Autotrader.com. “There’s a nice convertible Saab… a ’99… before they changed the front on it… Only 7-grand. Its in Ohio.” Dad loves the hunt for cars as much as driving, and when my wife first decided a few months ago that it was time to get a new car (for a number of different reasons), Dad eagerly climbed into the passenger seat as we thought about various makes and models, and weighed several bargains.

After visiting my folks Friday night, we took a ride to a nearby Honda dealership (after it was closed, of course) to scout things out. We found a good car at a good price, and one of the Civics was unlocked. Really comfortable and roomy.

We went the next day to figure out the details, and with the rebates, and generous amount given for our trade in, it was a much greater bargain than either of us could have imagined, and we were both excited about being able to pick up the next car on Tuesday (dealership was closed Labor Day Monday).

I was excited, in part, because the dealership was close to the folks house, and we could take a spin by to show the ol’man the new car. Seriously, no one on the planet gets more excited about anyone’s new car than Steven P. Cichon.

So, I was a little disappointed when my mom texted me to say that he went to the hospital Sunday (this happens somewhat frequently because of his diabetes problems.) He’s OK, but was in ICU to get his sugar evened out; it was messed up by a viral infection he’d been fighting for a few days.

He was his normal self, though still in the ICU when I went up to visit him an hour or so after picking up the car. Happy to have company, and talkative (not always the case, in case you don’t know the ol’man.) After the usual pleasantries, and getting to update on how he’s feeling, I dropped the bomb.

“So dad, we picked up our new car today.” He knew we were looking, but had no idea we were close to buying one. Either were we, frankly, until we got the great deal on the Civic. Its an over-used cliche, but there’s no other way to describe it. The twinkle in his eyes was like a kid at Christmas.

His body stiffened, and after opening his eyes wide in anticipation for a moment or two, he sat back in the standard issue vinyl hospital room chair, dozens of wires coming off of him, closed his eyes with a smile on his face, very seriously said, “OK, tell me about it *slowly*.”

I’m not one for the gadgets and features, but I always study up, because I know my dad will want to know. He loved that we got a great deal. He loved that the highway mileage approached 40 MPG. “That’s almost like driving for free,” he said. He loved that the dash lights were blue, the same color as one of the big puffy bandage things to keep his IVs in place.

Cadillac Cimmaron
Cadillac Cimmaron

But he stopped me on one feature that bowled him over. “Telescopic steering?!? In a CIVIC?!? They only put that in the top of the line Mercedes, for heavens sake!” My dad swears a lot, but he does try to control it. Of the 20 or so cars dad’s owned, only “The Cadillac” had telescopic steering. “I’d adjust it every time I got in, he said, making a holding the wheel motion and moving it all over over the place. That’s what a telescopic steering wheel allows you to do. Monica really likes this feature a lot, too. Before I get too far ahead of myself, I should let people know that “The Cadillac” was actually a 1987 Cadillac Cimmaron, which is nothing more than Chevy Cavalier tricked out with leather, a V-6, a useless luggage rack on the back trunk, and apparently, a telescopic steering wheel.

And, Dad was almost disappointed when I somehow didn’t figure out how to park the car outside the window of his hospital room so he could look out at it. His eyes are so bad, he wouldn’t have been able to see it anyway. But he will get a spin in it once he gets home from the hospital.

monica09civic
Monica’s new 2009 Civic

I know the ol’man will tell everyone he sees and talks to for the next month about the car. Those poor ICU nurses. The women might get away without hearing about the car, but the men, and there are a lot of male nurses at the VA Hospital ICU, will likely hear a lot about it. And my grandpa. And Uncle Chuck.

It makes him so happy, I wish I could buy a new car every day.

Grover Cleveland’s ties to Parkside and the birth of modern anesthesia: Sisters Hospital & The Marine Hospital

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

While they owned much of the property along the neighborhood’s southern border, and taught at St. Vincent de Paul, Mt St Joe’s, Medaille, St. Mark, and St Mary’s School for the Deaf, the Sisters of St. Joseph haven’t been the only Catholic nuns along the Parkside section of Main Street.

The Sisters of Charity established Buffalo’s first hospital downtown in 1848, and moved to the corner of Main Street and Delevan Avenue (the current home of the Canisius College Koessler Athletic Center) in 1876.

And while Sisters Hospital didn’t move there until the World War II era (1943), a hospital of sorts has stood on the spot where Sisters now stands since the Civil War era. The Providence Retreat, also known as through the years as the Providence Insane Asylum, and the Providence Lunatic Asylum, it was established in 1860 by Dr. Austin Flint and Dr. James Platt White, with the help of the Sisters of Charity.

As the Civil War dawned, after it was “decided that the city needed a hospital for the treatment of mental and nervous diseases.”  The institution opened its first building on the Main Street grounds July 15, 1861. That building was then outside the city limits, on grounds described as “spacious and beautiful.” The grounds contained both a hennery for eggs and a dairy, and “stronger patients” were able to take advantage of the neighboring Delaware Park and Zoological gardens.

The Providence Asylum, 1870s. Sisters Hospital stands on this spot today.

The asylum, and its most infamous guest, nearly cost Buffalo a Presidency. One of Buffalo’s most scandalous residents was a “guest” at the Providence Retreat. Maria Halpin was one of many unwed mothers residing there, and she became a star in the 1884 Presidential campaign. It just so happened that the prominent Buffalo attorney with whom she reportedly had a tryst quickly moved up the ranks as Mayor of Buffalo, then Governor of New York, and ultimately President of the United States.

Had Grover Cleveland run for President in this modern age, the intense vetting process likely would have knocked him out of the running early. The Halpin story was well-known but not talked about in Buffalo for at least a decade. However, when Grover Cleveland decided to run for the White House, The Buffalo Evening Telegraph, a paper similar in journalistic integrity to the National Enquirer, ran a story entitled “A Terrible Tale-Dark Chapter in a Public Man’s History.”

The rag put into print a damning piece of salacious bombast slanted against Cleveland by his old Western New York political enemies. The paper spelled out that Cleveland was the lover of The Loose Widow Halpin, and when she became pregnant, the powerful Cleveland had her institutionalized, the child placed in an orphanage, all at Cleveland’s expense. The story spread like wildfire around the country, to the delight of Cleveland’s political opponents.

A familiar song on the Presidential campaign in 1884 went, “Ma, Ma, where’s my Pa? Gone to the White House, ha, ha, ha.” Grover Cleveland paid for the institutionalization of his one-time lover– the mother of what possibly was his love child– at Providence Asylum, which stood where Sisters Hospital stands today.

Though painted in the worst possible light, Cleveland couldn’t and wouldn’t deny the story. Halpin actually kept the company of several prominent lawyers, many of them married, including Cleveland’s partner and best friend Oscar Folsom. Folsom was nearly positive the child was his, but to save Folsom and the other men potential martial problems, the bachelor Cleveland took responsibility for the care of the woman and her child, whom she named Oscar Folsom Cleveland.

Cleveland asked a judge to commit Halpin to the bucolic Parkside mental ward only after he was unsuccessful in trying to break her of alcoholism. At Cleveland’s expense, his young ward was place in the finest orphanage to move along his placement with and adoption by a well-to-do family.

These details, however, were only made public decades later. Despite the controversy, Cleveland was elected President, where he was the first man to be married in the White House. Not to Halpin, who continued to hound Cleveland for money, but to Frances Folsom. The daughter of his partner Oscar, Cleveland became her legal guardian when she was 11 years old.  She was somewhat scandalously 27 years younger than the President, and, though it wasn’t common knowledge at the time, was likely the half sister of Cleveland’s “son.” For his part, Oscar Folsom Cleveland eventually became a very successful doctor; his education paid for by the man who took a political hit for doing what he thought was the right thing.

The Providence Retreat was not alone in catering to the psychological needs of Parksiders. Dr. S. A. Dunham was the superintendent of Parkside Sanitarium, 1392 Amherst Street. It was established in 1902, and had a capacity of 25.

A More Modern Hospital

As modern medicine progressed, particularly in the newly developing field of psychiatry, a new state of the art “Asylum” was built in 1905. Bishop Charles Colton was assisted by Msgr. Nelson Baker in laying the cornerstone for what was  then known as The Providence Retreat.  The building was to be fireproof, and “up to the high standards required by the state… in the treatment of the insane and feeble minded.”

Bishop Colton and Father Baker assist in laying the cornerstone for the Providence Retreat, Main at Kensington & Humboldt. This building still stands; greatly modified and added to, as Sisters Hospital.

A 1905 Buffalo Express article notes, “The institution is managed by the sisters, under the rules approved by the state commission of lunacy.” The article goes on to talk abut the $300,000 building. “Away in the back, and distinct from the others, are the rooms for violent patients who may be noisy.”

In 1943, the 83 year old Providence Retreat, long the home “for treatment of mental patients,” was closed and converted to a maternity hospital. Upon the opening of Louise de Marillac Hospital, an official told the Buffalo Evening News, “We feel there is more need here for an additional maternity hospital and an enlarged institution for babies than for the care of the mentally afflicted that the Providence Retreat has been carrying on.”

Three years later, ground was broken on another million dollar expansion of the structure that was destined to become the new Sisters Hospital at Main Street and Humboldt Parkway. The new streamlined, modern structure was prepared to combine the efforts of the Louise de Marillac Maternity Hospital and Sisters Hospital. The hospital was on the cutting edge of modernity, with a telephone and radio in every room.

Easily ignored, standing between Sisters Hospital and St Mary’s School for the Deaf is a rather nondescript brick building with a lesser known rich history.  Built in 1907-10 as the US Marine Hospital, it’s likely to have gone unnoticed by most passersby for over a century. The building served as a home “owned and operated by the United States Government, and is for general medical service to sailors, marine soldiers, ex-soldiers, marines and merchant seamen” for almost 50 years.  Far and away the most common, interwoven maladies amongst the old seadogs were old age and alcoholism.

US Marine Hospital; Main Street, between St. Mary’s School for the Deaf and what is now Sisters Hospital. 1930’s postcard.

In three separate incarnations, this building has played, and continues to play, a role in the forefront of medicine. First, as the Marine Hospital, many early strides in anesthesia were made inside the walls of the Parkside institution. Very early in his career, it was here that one of the world’s pioneering anesthesiologists first learned his trade, at a time when the specialty at best was an after thought.

In an article in Anesthesia and Analgesia in 2000, Drs. Ronald Batt and Douglas Bacon write about Dr. Clarence Durshordwe, a World War I veteran who grew up on Buffalo’s East Side and attended UB Medical School.

After medical school, Durshordwe interned at the 68-bed Marine Hospital in Buffalo. On completing his training, he was hired as an assistant surgeon for the Public Health Service. Early in his five years of service, he discovered that the lowest ranking physician was assigned to give anesthetics. Concerned that he might harm a patient, Durshordwe went to Buffalo City Hospital to observe nurse anesthetists administer anesthetics. Toward the end of his tenure at the Marine Hospital, now assigned to perform surgery, Durshordwe found he spent more time worrying about the anesthetic than the surgical procedure.

The mostly self-taught doctor would be one of the men who helped bring together the theories and practice of anesthesia from locations all around the world; where even late into the mid-20th century some physicians around the world still questioned it’s medical value.

Great strides were also made in the fledgling practice of physical therapy when the federally owned hospital was transferred to the state in 1950, and it became the home of UB’s Chronic Disease Institute. It was the area’s first hospital devoted to “physical medicine, the combination of medicine and therapy.” Within 3 years of the doors opening, the institute “achieved remarkable results in restoring to partial or complete usefulness disabled limbs, muscles, and organs, and overcoming speech difficulties.”  It was here that many of the tenets of 21st century medicine were first explored locally.

As of 1953, two years before the polio vaccine was announced to the world, and at a time when the diagnosis meant fear, every polio patient brought to the facility in an iron lung was able to gain release from the “cumbersome contrivance.”  One arthritis patient, so seriously disabled he was brought into the center on a stretcher, walked out, self-supporting, eight months later; all by virtue on the modern medical theories we now take for granted, first explored locally by our Parkside neighbors.

The Marine Hospital Campus was purchased by Sisters Hospital in 1995 for off-street parking for visitors and employees. While the original plans called for the building to make way for even more parking space, The Parkside Community Association advocated saving the historic structure. This was accomplished when Benedict House was opened at the Main Street location in 1997. It’s mission, as taken from its website in 2008:

The mission of Benedict House is to provide non-discriminatory residential housing opportunities and supportive services for persons living with AIDS in an environment promoting the principles of dignity, respect, understanding, compassion and self-determination.

©2009 Buffalo Stories LLC, staffannouncer.com, and Steve Cichon

This page is an excerpt from
The Complete History of Parkside
by Steve Cichon

The 174-page book is available along with Steve’s other books online at The Buffalo Stories Bookstore and from fine booksellers around Western New York. 

Canisius College & The Sisters of St. Joseph

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

The fate of the Main Street land immediately north of Jefferson Avenue was sealed when Jesuit Fathers purchased it, described as an “expanse of land and… groves of trees,” as a farm from the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1874. In 1911, the Fathers built Canisius College there, and have been growing it, and buying more land and buildings to expand their campus, ever since.

Though now the gentrified, commanding presence along that portion of Main Street, Canisius College moved to the area at a time when Catholic institutions weren’t necessarily welcomed with open arms in all sections of the city. This wasn’t a problem on this stretch of Main, however, given the fact that the new school was flanked by a well-established Catholic church, Catholic hospitals, several Catholic elementary and high schools, and a convent.

The land was wilderness far beyond the edge of the city when St. Vincent de Paul Parish was founded in 1863. Bishop John Timon and Rev. Joseph Sorg established the church to serve the mostly German quarry men and farmers in the Kensington-Humboldt area. It was, according to the parish’s 100th Anniversary History booklet, “a peaceful, wide open location removed from traffic and congestion of the city.”

As already discussed, three successively larger churches were built over 60 years.  The first 1860’s wooden church became the school when a larger brick church was built in 1887.  And as the neighborhoods surrounding the church, including Parkside, grew, by 1924, the need developed for yet another, newer, larger church building.   The Byzantine-Romanesque style, final home of St Vincent de Paul was opened Thanksgiving Day 1926, with over 5,000 people in attendance. When the church closed in 1993, Canisius College bought the buildings of its old neighbor, and renamed the exquisite Byzantine building the Montante Center.

Also as mentioned, the Sisters of St. Joseph were major developers of Main Street, having first strolled north of the horse-drawn trolley tracks (which then ended at Delevan Avenue) to built their novitiate, south of the church, where Canisius College now stands, and  moving the Deaf Mute Institute to the corner of Dewey and Main in 1898. The name was officially changed to St. Mary’s School for the Deaf in 1936, and continues to be the longest continuously operated institution in the Parkside neighborhood.

St. Mary’s School for the Deaf, 1923

Aside from teaching at both St Vincent’s and St. Mark in Parkside, The Sisters also ran Mt. St. Joseph’s Elementary and High Schools, founded in 1891. The high school was closed in the mid 1980s, but “Little Mount” survives to this day. The Sisters of St Joseph decided to close the school in 2005, but parents and alumni banded together to keep the school open. The school moved from a building recently torn down on the Canisius campus to the former Central Presbyterian Church complex in 2007.

In 1937, Mount St. Joseph’s Teachers College received its charter from New York State to award degrees in Education. In 1968, the curriculum expanded, men were welcomed to the campus for the first time, and Medaille College was born.

Mt St Joseph (High) School For Boys, 1923. Now Medaille College.

©2009 Buffalo Stories LLC, staffannouncer.com, and Steve Cichon

This page is an excerpt from
The Complete History of Parkside
by Steve Cichon

The 174-page book is available along with Steve’s other books online at The Buffalo Stories Bookstore and from fine booksellers around Western New York. 

Former Main Street institutions of the Parkside era now part of the Canisius campus

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Parkside Historian Michael Riester puts forth the thesis, “As goes Main Street, so goes Parkside.” The following pages will take a look at Main Street in three separate sections: The institutions of the area, the automobile showrooms, and, finally the small businesses; the shops and storefronts where most people did most of their spending and buying of goods and services.

Many modern Parksiders, who just think of the whole area as “Canisius College,” will be surprised to know that the block of Main between Delevan and Jefferson has been home to a brewery, an amusement park, and for over 50 years, a Sears & Roebuck store.

In 1842, Jacob Schaenzlin moved into a brewery built two years earlier at 1857 Main Street, near Scajaquada Creek. This is the present site of the Delavan/Canisius MetroRail station.

While the waters were visible in this photo of the Schnaezlin Brewery snapped circa 1900– today, Scajaquada Creek is underground from Forest Lawn Cemetery all the way to Cheektowaga. The photo was taken from the east side of Main Street looking west. That’s the Main Street bridge in the photo.

Further up the block, and a half century later, at the point where Jefferson Avenue and Main Street meet, stood an amusement park, which was known by at least 3 different names over the decades it was open. First known in the 1890s as Athletic Park, its name was changed first to Carnival Court, then to Luna Park, when it was purchased by the father of the modern amusement park, Frederick Ingersoll. He owned the park from 1904-1920.  Among the more popular rides was the “Shoot the Chutes” water ride, which Ingersoll built in all his parks, and was the basis for the modern water flume ride.

Looking north up Main from the From the Top of Shoot the Chutes. That’s Jefferson Avenue, St. Vincent’s, then Providence Retreat (now Sisters Hospital )

The midway of the Carnival Court was heavily damaged by fire in 1909. The fire was briefly mentioned in the New York Times, calling the place a “pleasure resort,” and mentioning the skating rink and the theatre suffered damage in the blaze.

Closed and abandoned by 1920, Sears and Roebuck purchased the property and built a store on the site in 1929. From that Sears store, generations of Parksiders were clothed, and kept in appliances, hardware, paint, and gardening supplies. Sears left in 1980, and four years later, the building became the headquarters for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of WNY.  The building, which once housed all that the Sears Catalog had to offer, is now Canisius’ Science Hall.

George Zornick lived on Russell in the 1960s. “Sears was very convenient to the neighborhood. As a kid, I remember the big escalator in the middle of the store. We’d go there for clothes and my dad for hardware; the place seemingly had everything.

©2009 Buffalo Stories LLC, staffannouncer.com, and Steve Cichon

This page is an excerpt from
The Complete History of Parkside
by Steve Cichon

The 174-page book is available along with Steve’s other books online at The Buffalo Stories Bookstore and from fine booksellers around Western New York. 

“The Main Street” near Parkside

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Of course, following the rail and the streetcar to Parkside soon enough was the automobile. King’s Official Route Book was the Mapquest.com of the early automobile era. It gave new drivers not only street names as far as getting from one place to another, but offered landmarks as well in an era when street signs may not have been the most reliable or varied. In the 1913 edition, the book makes notes of several landmarks you’d see driving on Main Street from downtown through Parkside on your way from Buffalo to Batavia.

Buffalo, N. Y., to Batavia, N. Y.,
38.6 miles, Road mostly all brick and state road.

  • 0 Leave Soldiers’ Monument and Park on right, go north on Main St., following trolley .
  • 0.7 Pass Teck Theater Bldg. on left
  • 2.3 Intersection of trolleys with car barns on right (Cold Springs Street Car Barn)
  • 2.6 Passing hospital on right (Sisters Hospital at original Main/Delevan location)
  • 2.7 and Forest Lawn Cemetery on left
  • 2.8 Pass Carnival Court Park on right (amusement park where Main and Jefferson meet)
  • 3.0 St Vincent of Paul’s Church on right (now Canisius College Montante Cultural Center)
  • 3.1 Mount St. Joseph Academy on left (now Canisius’ Lyons Hall)
  • 3.3 Providence Retreat on right       (current site of Sisters Hospital)                                                                                             
  • 3.4 U. S. Marine Hospital on right      (currently Benedict House)   
  • 3.5 Deaf Mute Institution on right, straight ahead through                        
  • 3.6 Parkside brick schoolhouse on left   ( in current School 54 parking lot)                                                                               
  •  3.8 Central Presbyterian Church on left   (now Mt St Joseph’s Academy)
  •  3.9 Cross cement bridge over R. R.

Between the businesses in the Parkside neighborhood itself, and the business along Main Street, it was possible, for much of the neighborhood’s history,  for someone living in the area to not have need to leave the neighborhood for months at a time.

Without Main Street, there would not have been a Flint Hill or a Parkside. While over the last two decades its become the re-invigorated Hertel and Delaware Avenues that are the local shopping and dining destinations for Parksiders, for the 200 years previous, it was Main Street that served most of the needs of the people of the area we now call Parkside.

Over a three year period, third generation Parkside Resident and Definitive Parkside Historian Michael Riester wrote a series of articles, published in the Parkside News, examining the history Parkside’s portion of Main Street and role the stretch of road played in the life of the people of the area through the two centuries since the path was first carved from the wilderness.

(I)n 1850, the city secured vast tracts of Erastus Granger’s farm on Flint Hill (as Parkside was then known.) This land, with its rolling hills, large open meadows, woods, and Scajaquada Creek was considered the most beautiful and scenic in the area. 80 Acres would become Forest Lawn Cemetery, but the land to the north and west of the then-proposed cemetery, including Granger’s meadow and quarry, would be reserved for parkland. It would be some years yet before the landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted would draw on its natural beauty to create Delaware Park. “

By the 1880s, once “The Park” was developed, and the modern streets of Parkside were laid out, the character of Main Street changed dramatically. Large homes, like the brick Victorian of the Garris Family at Main and Robie were being erected. The Garris family made their fortune in the Jammerthal quarries near Grider and Kensington.

©2009 Buffalo Stories LLC, staffannouncer.com, and Steve Cichon

This page is an excerpt from
The Complete History of Parkside
by Steve Cichon

The 174-page book is available along with Steve’s other books online at The Buffalo Stories Bookstore and from fine booksellers around Western New York.