Long before Dyngus Day was the celebration of Buffalo culture it has become over the last decade, it was, as most know, a day of celebration and fast breaking in the Polish community.
My grandfather, Edward Cichon, was the seventh of ten kids born to Polish immigrants who lived in Buffalo’s Valley neighborhood (nestled between South Buffalo, The First Ward, and The Hydraulics.)
His memories of Easter and Dyngus Day went back more than 70 years when I interviewed him for a news story back in 2006. He’s giving us a first-hand account of Dyngus Day in Buffalo in the ’20s & ’30s.
Born in 1926, Gramps grew up on Fulton Street near Smith on a street that was, at that time, half Irish and half Polish. Most of the men on the street, including my great-grandfather and eventually Gramps himself, worked at the National Aniline chemical plant down the street.
On Dyngus Day, he’d go behind his house along the tracks of the Erie Railroad—the 190 runs there now—and grab some pussy willows to take part in the Dyngus Day tradition of swatting at girls on their heels, who’d in turn throw water at the boys.
For Easter, Babcia would cook all the Polish delicacies like golabki, pierogi, and kielbasi.
The sausage, Gramps explained, was all homemade. “Pa” (as gramps always called his father) would get two pigs, and they’d smoke them right in the backyard on Fulton Street. The whole family would work on making sausage at the big kitchen table, and then hang the kielbasa out back—but they’d also butcher hams and other cuts of meat as well.
While he was in the frame of mind, I asked him about the Broadway Market, too. In the late ‘20s, His mother would wheel him the two miles over to the market in a wagon, and park him next to the horses while she shopped for food and across the street at Sattler’s.
Reading these stories is great, but listening to Gramps tell them is the best.
As soon as this evening, one of the two candidates for president will be written into the headlines of history — and the other will be written into the footnotes. On this Election Day, we take a look at some of the candidates who have come this close to the White House through the years, and the time they’ve spent here in Western New York.
1900: William Jennings Bryan
As he campaigned against President William McKinley, Congressman (and later Secretary of State) William Jennings Bryan filled the streets of Buffalo’s East Side as thousands jammed into the Broadway Market and surrounding streets to hear Jennings speak.
“On the East Side it seemed as if the whole populace had turned out to shout and cheer for Mr. Bryan,” wrote the Courier. It was estimated that 25,000 heard him at the Broadway Market, and another 8,000 heard an address at a convention hall. Another 40,000 lined the route between the two places.
1936: Alfred Landon
Kansas’ governor came to Buffalo in his bid to unseat Franklin D. Roosevelt after Roosevelt’s first term in office.
After parading through the streets, Landon stopped at the Statler Hotel for a tea put on by Buffalo’s Republican women. That night, Landon held a rally under the lights at Offermann Stadium, which was the home of the Bisons from 1924 to 1960.
—– 1952: Adlai Stevenson II
Stevenson was the man who took on Gen. Dwight Eisenhower for the Oval Office being vacated by Harry Truman in 1952. He then ran against the incumbent President Eisenhower in 1956.
Named after his grandfather — who was vice president during Grover Cleveland’s second term — Stevenson was governor of Illinois and was later named ambassador to the United Nations by President Kennedy.
—– 1964: Barry Goldwater
The Arizona senator joined his running mate, William E. Miller, in the congressman’s hometown of Lockport for a September 1964 campaign stop.
It was declared “Bill Miller Day” in Lockport in honor of the candidate for the vice presidency. The crowds were compared favorably to four years earlier, when John F. Kennedy — then a senator and candidate for president — barnstormed through Niagara County, including a speech in Lockport.
One difference — despite the crowd’s being made up of people who knew, loved and were proud of their neighbor and his accomplishments — as many as 100 Niagara County sheriff’s deputies were there to keep order and protect the candidates. The stop was only 10 months removed from the assassination of President Kennedy.
1968: Hubert Humphrey
Vice President Humphrey picked up the mantel of the Democratic Party following President Johnson’s announcement that he wouldn’t run for re-election, and then the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.
Humphrey visited Buffalo many times during his time in the senate and during his time as vice president.
This week, The Broadway Market kicks off its busiest time of the year — the days leading up to Easter.
For generations, the market was the epicenter of Buffalo’s Polish community.
A fixture in the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood for more than 125 years, the market’s heyday was likely in the 1950s – when every Friday and Saturday people from the neighborhood stuffed into the newly renovated structure in the same way we see now only during Holy Week.
The glory years were certainly waning by 1983, but the market had much of the same character and charm as it did in the earlier years. Dozens of second- and third-generation family businesses filled the stalls once run by their fathers and grandfathers.
This piece takes a look back at some of those families and how the market had changed through the years up until that point. Many who still remember the old daily hustle and bustle of the market miss it terribly – the next two weeks is an opportunity to relive a part of what it was like, and perhaps conjure some idea of what the future of the beleaguered landmark might be.
The photos and text here were featured in “The Magazine,” The News’ Sunday insert in 1983. The paper is from the Buffalo Stories collection.
Can you still get homemade duck soup at the Broadway Market? This story could have been written this week:
April 21, 1984: Smell of pierogi, road of crowd greet market Easter shoppers
“Under a heavy aroma of pierogi, 99 varieties of cheese and all manner of fish, the shoppers maintained a dull roar all afternoon. The aisles were flush with people of all ages, housewives pushing baby strollers, stockboys struggling with mobile racks laden with the kind of breads and cakes that could be bought nowhere else.”