Buffalo in the 50s: Buffalo’s 4,500 grain workers idled by elevator strikes

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

When we think romantically about “Buffalo’s good old days,” when a man could walk into any plant of factory in town, put in a good day’s work and provide well for his family, one part of the equation we often forget is labor strife.

This week in 1950, about 500 grain elevator employees walked out on strike. That decision had an impact on another 4,000 workers who refused to cross picket lines or were idled because their work was reliant on the strikers. These included grain scoopers, grain car coopers, longshoremen, construction workers and railroad switchmen. In many cases, grain stored in the elevators was transferred to nearby Buffalo grain mills for rendering. The mills were also closed down.

As 300 carloads of grain sat on docks a few days into the strike, there was some mild violence and minor injuries. The state also ruled that none of the 4,500 idled workers would be eligible for unemployment benefits.

Buffalo in 1910: Popular First Ward fireboat lieutenant is dead

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Lt. Simon O’Donnell, a native of Ireland, lived at 268 Elk St. — which today would be 268 South Park Ave., if it were still standing. And, if still standing, the building would be across South Park from the Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino.

O’Donnell was assigned to the Ohio Street Firehouse and to the fireboat George R. Potter — one of three fireboats working in Buffalo at the time.  When he died 105 years ago this week, in July, 1910, he was one of the city’s most popular firefighters.