Liberty Shoes had Buffalo’s most affordable footwear

       By Steve Cichon

Especially during the days when more families had six or eight or 10 kids, the feet of many Buffalo children never knew any shoes other than ones that came from Liberty Shoes.

Main Street looking north from Genesee, 1950s. Liberty Shoes is in the building with the blue neon sign.

David and Hyman Abrams founded Buffalo’s Liberty Shoe Co. in 1919. David took over as president and treasurer the next year and continued for the next four decades or so.

Hubert Holloway told Abrams’ story as a part of his series of Horatio Alger rags-to-riches stories on WBEN Radio in 1957.

“He liked selling and people, but the stock-taking and bookkeeping failed to meet his ideas of the romance of business. So his boss told him that he would never make a success of the shoe business. He is David Abrams, president and treasurer of the Liberty Shoe Stores Inc., operating a chain of retail shoe stores in Western New York.

“Mr. Abrams said that when a man has only a money-making objective in business, and fails to see the service and human side, he is doomed to failure. Maybe here’s a short story: Seller of soles urges souls in business.”

a 1946 ad for “Liberty specials,” as my dad called them.

When Liberty opened its 10th Western New York store in 1940, seven of those stores were located around the City of Buffalo, which meant that boys and girls didn’t even have to leave their neighborhood for a pair of “Liberty specials,” although the flagship store was on Main Street just north of Genesee downtown. Offices were at the Broadway/Fillmore location for most of the chain’s existence.

Liberty made it into the early ’80s before the corporation was bought out by Endicott-Johnson.

Torn-Down Tuesday: Nu-Way meets Niagara Falls Boulevard

       By Steve Cichon

When the brand-new Nu-Way supermarket opened in Niagara Falls Boulevard in 1955, the part of the “The Boulevard” just north of Sheridan Drive was still mostly farmland.

Niagara Falls Boulevard from Sheridan Drive to Ridge Lea, 1951

The map that accompanied the Nu-Way ad announcing the grand opening isn’t to scale, but it shows the landmarks on the rural stretch between Sheridan Drive and Ellicott Creek Road. The only highlights they could come up with were the drive-in and a radio tower.

Nu-Way Super Market grand opening on Niagara Falls Boulevard, 1955.

The Niagara Drive-In, which is visible on the 1951 overhead photo, was torn down to make way for Kmart, which was in turn torn down to make way for the strip mall featuring Old Navy and the Christmas Tree Store.

The WXRA radio tower was closer to the plaza with Burlington Coat Factory, JoAnn Fabrics and Outback Steakhouse. The small station was licensed to Kenmore and is probably best remembered as the place where Tommy Shannon’s Buffalo radio career began.

If we were trying to describe the plaza where Nu-Way opened today, we might say across from the Boulevard Mall – but then, the mall wasn’t opened for another seven years. OK, then, you might say, “The Boulevard between Sheridan and Maple,” but Maple wasn’t extended from Sweet Home Road to Niagara Falls Boulevard until the early ’60s.

The Youngmann Expressway didn’t cross over then, work wouldn’t even start on the I-290 until the mall opened. New York State’s first McDonald’s, now near Maple, wasn’t opened until 1959. Same with the Henry’s Hamburgers at Sheridan Drive. The Swiss Chalet opened in 1965.

Nu-Way was the futuristic brand name for the 1950s-style supermarkets operated by longtime Buffalo grocer Danahy-Faxon.

Among the features at the new store were register receipts that listed your exact change and the “new convenient food-o-mat,” which was called “the latest in shopping convenience” as shelves restocked themselves as ladies shopped.

Shopping the modern way inside a Nu-Way, 1955.

The Nu-Way brand name was eventually absorbed into Acme Markets, and in the mid ’70s, local Acme stores were bought out by Bells.

Buffalo in the 50s: It’s easy to catch tolls cheaters

By Steve Cichon

Anyone who ever threw coins into the “exact change” basket at the Ogden or Breckenridge tolls wondered: How would it know if I threw in the wrong amount?

Motorists were wondering that as soon as the highway opened, and while Thruway officials say cheaters were few and far between, two early cheaters were arrested and fined $50.

The most interesting part of the accompanying article comes in the last paragraph, when it’s explained by Thruway brass that “the traveling public has been sold on the convenience of a super highway and is adjusting to the thought that it should be paid for by its users.”

When the city portion of the I-190 opened on July 30, 1959, cars paid 15 cents to access the road. By 2006, when the Thruway Authority stopped collecting tolls at Breckenridge and South Ogden, the cost had climbed to 75 cents for cars.

“It’s easy to catch toll cheaters”

“The percentage of persons attempting to ‘beat the toll’ in the exact change lanes of the Niagara Thruway’s Buffalo barrier is ‘infinitesimal,’ Division Toll Supervisor William A. Hall said today.”

The toll booths were torn down in 2007.

News reporter Jay Bonfatti could only find one person nostalgic for the tollbooths as they came down, but he did find plenty of rejoicing.