What it looked like Wednesday: Medical Campus area, 1978

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

In November 1978, News Photographer Bill Dyviniak grabbed his camera to take a few shots in the area we now call the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. Then, it was the cold and abandoned neighborhood bounded by Buffalo General Hospital and Roswell Park Cancer Institute to the north, and the still-buzzing M. Wile and Trico factories and Courier-Express presses to the south.

Buffalo News archives

Buffalo News archives

It’s unclear whether the images were shot for a specific story or whether it was feared that the buildings might not last the winter. The folder was labeled “Landmarks to be demolished near Main & Carlton.”

Photographs of three separate “landmarks” were in that folder — and despite all the construction around that area over the last 40 years, from the MetroRail station at Allen Street to the ever-growing Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, all three buildings still stand to this day.

Buffalo News archives

Buffalo News archives

The 19th-century Italianate houses on Washington Street are currently a part of the BNMC’s Green Commons project. They were saved from the wrecker’s ball in the late 70’s through the work of preservationists like Austin Fox working with the city and surrounding community.

The 1977 city directory shows all of the single family dwellings remaining on Washington and Ellicott Streets-- both now in the footprint of The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus-- as vacant or as lodging operated by Roswell Park.  The area that was as recently as the 1950s a thriving residential area had quickly become nearly all industrial  and offices.

The 1977 city directory shows all of the single family dwellings remaining on Washington and Ellicott Streets– both now in the footprint of The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus– as vacant or as lodging operated by Roswell Park. The area that was as recently as the 1950s a thriving residential area had quickly become nearly all industrial and offices.

Just west of those houses, stands the Roosevelt Apartments. The exterior has been rehabilitated and the Bells Market has long since closed.

Buffalo News archives

Buffalo News archives

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A few blocks away at Ellicott and Virginia survives Ulrich’s, Buffalo’s oldest continuously operated tavern.

Buffalo News archives

Buffalo News archives

Buffalo in the ’80s: The grocery beer cooler

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

A 1984 look inside the beer cooler of a Buffalo grocery store reveals that even the things that never change don’t always stay the same.

Buffalo News archives

Products offered by Labatt Brewing Company still remain the most popular beers in Buffalo, but there are some differences.

It was later in the 1980s when Labatt phased out the stubby bottle cases shown here in favor of what they first promoted as “Big Blue,” a 16-oz. bottle.

Labatt 50 Ale was one of Buffalo’s most popular beers for decades, as reflected in the heavy stocking of the beer in this photo. It’s now sometimes difficult to find even in Canada.

Also, it wasn’t until the 1990s when Labatt’s Beer officially became “Labatt Blue,” the nickname by which it had been known for decades.

Otherwise, generic plain label beer—available at Bells markets—was wildly popular with Western New Yorkers shopping for price.

The 1980s were also the decade of the wine cooler. Until then, the Mogen David Winery in Westfield was best known for its kosher Concord wines.  Many who were college or high school students during that era in Western New York (and across the Northeast) might remember MD 20/20 flavors like Hawaiian Blue and pink grapefruit. Those same folks might be surprised to know that the MD actually stands for “Mogen David,” not “Mad Dog,” as the wine product was known.

Buffalo in the ’80s: Inside Bells Markets at the checkout

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

A quick glance at this 1984 shot of Western New Yorkers in a supermarket checkout line might offer the warm reassurance that some things never change. Upon closer examination, however, we can find a few changes over the last 31 years.

Buffalo News archives

The first one that pops out was the accessibility of cigarettes, right next to the checkout conveyor belt. Three decades later, many supermarkets no longer carry cigarettes, and the ones that do have them behind the customer service counter or at a single designated lane.

Of course the photo is different because this is a Bells Market. All Bells stores closed when the company filed for bankruptcy in 1993, and many former Bells locations were gobbled up by Quality Markets, among others.

While the photo is black and white, it’s easy to imagine the cashier’s neckerchief being either the orange and brown or later green and yellow color scheme Bells used through the ’70s and ’80s.

Plenty is different, but the closer examination also shows that some things really don’t ever change — like Michael Jackson being featured in the tabloid rack. When this photo was taken he was still at the height of his Thriller and King of Pop fame … but despite the fact that Jackson died six years ago, would anyone be surprised to see him featured on a tabloid cover on your next shopping trip?

Buffalo’s (probably forgotten) pop brands of the ’80s

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

It’s impossible to think of pop in the 1980s without thinking of the Cola Wars.

You might remember the Cola Wars as Coke vs. Pepsi, but 30 years ago this week; another cola took space in The News to remind you they were just as good.

RC Cola, the ad says, beat out New Coke and Pepsi in blind taste tests, “turning the cola world upside down.” RC Cola remained popular in Buffalo, and was even the soft drink served in Mighty Taco.

This week at Bells, yet another national brand cola was on sale: Like Cola was 7-Up’s entry in the cola market.

At Super Duper, the most economical way to enjoy a cola was with a Red & White big three-liter bottle. Super Duper also had Diet Faygo selections on sale.

 

Pop wasn’t all about the cola, though. In 1984, Pepsi replaced its lemon-lime flavored Teem with Slice. In 2000, the Slice brand name was replaced by Sierra Mist.

You Love To Hate Them: The Best of the Worst in 1980s Buffalo TV Commercials

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

BUFFALO, NY – It’s an amazing transformation that happens somewhere in our brain. At some point, judging by the numbers of hits they receive, the terrible TV commercials once hated and vilified, become that for which we search YouTube.

There were a few local television ads that we really remember fondly, especially when they involve two WNY institutions we don't hear as much from anymore, like Danny Neaverth and Bells Markets. (Buffalo Stories archives)
There were a few local television ads that we really remember fondly, especially when they involve two WNY institutions we don’t hear as much from anymore, like Danny Neaverth and Bells Markets. (Buffalo Stories archives)

Many things annoy us about the spots by which we are regularly bombarded. The seeming ubiquity when they are on radio, TV, billboards, print. The fact that many are cheaply or poorly produced, or just based on an asinine idea that shouldn’t even have been written on the big sheet of paper in the brain storming session, let alone the idea that will not haunt hundreds of thousands of memories into perpetuity.

Perhaps worst is when, for no one particular good reason, the spot is just plain annoying.

The problem becomes, love them or hate them, they become familiar, a little warm. Annoying, but somehow comforting, in that it’s always there. And then, sometime, even decades after they go off the air, you get a yearning to love and hate them all over again. The hatred for the ad in question turns to hatred for the internet when you can’t mine that nugget you are trying so desperately to remember, so you can properly forget again.

The classic example of this is the Kaufman’s rye bread commercial. This jingle ran over and over on Buffalo TV for 20 years.

Whenever I give a talk about Buffalo, I play that, and people smile and sing along. They hate it, but love it. That jolly little baker is the perfect animated definition of frienemy. Almost scary happy smiles while people say, “I hate that!”

But they love to hate it. We all do. We love to hate terrible commercials. Don’t make me list the commercials you hate today that you will one day search for on the 2037 version of YouTube.

All of this came to mind when I was going through some video recently for a friend, and found some commercials that if you lived through the 80s in Buffalo, you will certainly remember them. And maybe even enjoy watching them once before going back to hate.

I found one of the more popularly hated and loved commercials of the 70s and 80s when i was doing research on the book I wrote about Irv Weinstein. A commercial so popular, people who were too young to have ever seen it in the first place still say FUN WOW even though they aren’t sure why–

Amusement Parks can be especially deadly when they are trying to appeal to kids. This is one from 1989 that I just uploaded. I consider this the definitive version of the Marineland jingle, with King Waldorf singing, and the kids filling in the words.

Fantasy Island and Marineland… Fondly familiar to see those spots once– maybe not again for a while now. But here’s one you might wind up looking at again::

Two Buffalo institutions in this one, but even while WKBW morning man Dan Neaverth is shilling for Bells, he has to work in a reference to the country’s newest amusement park: Darien Lake Fun Country::

Danny of course known as a DJ, and doing Channel 7’s weather outside… He wasn’t the only 1980s spokesman to come from a different line of work to sell a product. Jim Schoenfeld sold City Mattresses for years.

A few more:

Check out the “state of the art” computer they are bragging about at Fay’s Drugs in 1981:

The sound track on this 1989 Genny Light spot is pure 80s. So are the women, as Genesee mocks the 80s trend of filling beer commercials with women in bikinis instead of beer.

Finally, here’s one that put Lackawanna on the map in the late 80s… You may have forgotten about it, and you’ll probably hate me for reminding you.

You’ll find all of these commercials and plenty more great Buffalo video on the staffannouncer YouTube channel.