Rump Roast at Grandma Coyle’s

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Grandpa Coyle used to buy the rump roast– which was great with a big hunk of fat on top which kept the whole thing moist. This is some fancier cut.

When I was a kid, my job for dinner was to walk up to b-kwik on Seneca Street to buy rolls. Looks like I’ll be heading to Dash’s (the former b-kwik) on Hertel for rolls now since I can’t stop thinking about them.

Great Grandma Wargo: South Buffalo’s hard working washer woman

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

Grandma Coyle and her grandma
The caption was written by Grandma Coyle’s father… my Great-Grandpa Steve Wargo.

My great-great grandmother, Elizabeth Wargo, holds my grandmother, June Coyle. Lizzie came to America from Hungary in 1906… 10 years and six kids later, she was widowed in a foreign land. Working as a wash woman, she earned enough money to feed her kids and buy the home she’s standing in front of– 527 Hopkins Street in South Buffalo.

I’ve been looking at this photo pretty much my entire life. It was in the big blue photo album that grandma had in her sewing room.

I remember the awe I felt when grandma said something along the lines of “that’s me with my grandma.”

For all the time I spent studying this photo and a few others which were probably taken the same day almost 85 years ago, I never once noticed the outfit– the uniform– my great-great grandmother is wearing.

Wargo Elizabeth 1930 census

She was a domestic servant. The 1930 census says she was a “laundress” with a “private family.”

daisy downtonIn essence, she was one of the downstairs people on Downton Abbey. Right down to the shoes, her dress looks like something you might see Daisy wear on Downton.

Looking at this photo of my grandmother and her grandmother, and thinking about her hard work and sacrifice swells me with thanks.

All that is beautiful in our lives is the result of so much sacrifice by generations of people who couldn’t even imagine us… It’s really humbling. This tough little immigrant woman fought through life for me.

When you get to know your ancestors, it’s hard to take credit for anything. Realizing the generations of sacrifice offered so that I had the opportunity to live the life I do is the ultimate exercise in modesty.

Where did the wonderful 33 daffodils come from?

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

Daffodils along the Kensington Expressway and Youngmann Highway are one of those things that make our City of Buffalo great.

daffodils2
I scared my wife pulling over abruptly on the 33 to get these photos on a beautiful spring day. April 18, 2015.

Of course, as Buffalonians, our usually dark and cold winters trigger a primal yearning and desire for warmth and springtime. Winter can leave our souls and psyches wounded to the point where we really aren’t even able to fully grasp what May will do to our dulled senses.

The drawn-out beginning of spring helps us slowly power up our appreciation for things outside the man-made walls of home, work, and car.

No matter how many times we’ve experienced Buffalo springs after Buffalo winters, we still count dozens of childlike moments– overcome with sudden joy– when, seemingly out of no where, the glow of the sun warms our face or the smell of a spring rain fills our nostrils.

Where there were just black and gray piles of salt-caked snow and ice– suddenly dots of yellow first appear along the 33 and 290, first few and far between.

Within a week, we’re again overcome by the vibrant and varied yellows of the flower that’s even more special to me as it was my Grandma Coyle’s favorite.

The beautiful, fleeting, first sign of spring brings smiles to hundreds of thousands of motorists every year, but where did they come from? Didn’t they just seem to appear and spread over the last decade or so?

Well, yes. In 1999, Erie County Legislator Judy Fisher gave money to The Green Fund,  through which City Director of Support Services Jim Pavel bought 50,000 bulbs and organized a mass planting by volunteers young and old. The number of bulbs bought and planted doubled the next year, and had totaled 1 million by 2004.

From 2000 to 2004, Lamar Advertising was also in the bulb-planting game. The folks who own many of Buffalo’s billboards and most of the billboards along the Kensington– spent $600,000 planting 2.7 million daffodil bulbs.

Sixteen years later, those roughly 4 million bulbs have split and spread. Now countless millions of yellow blooms remind us, as we drudge along the expressway, that spring is here– and that maybe it’s a good time to roll down the window and enjoy the fresh air.

If the wind is blowing just right as you cruise along the 33 close to downtown, maybe you’ll catch a whiff of Cheerios as you enjoy the sun-kissed daffodils. Welcome to Buffalo.

daffodils1

Dontcha just miss a good ol’fashioned milk machine?

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

milkmachine

This is a scene that played itself out over and over on streets all over Buffalo for much of the 20th century.

It was tough to walk a block or two without hitting a neighborhood tavern or a milk machine.

Though far fewer in number, of course there are still neighborhood gin mills, but the milk machines have gone away.

The machines began popping up in the city in the mid-1950’s. By the mid-1990s, the milk machines were all but extinct, with the last ones gone just after 2000.

The one I remember more than any other was next to B-kwik on Seneca Street, across from St. Teresa’s.  The milk machine stood outside against what was the back wall of B-kwik– That spot was built out and is now Tim Hortons.

Although Grandma Coyle, who lived a block away on Hayden Street, had milk delivered from the milk man, occasionally she’d still have me go buy more from the milk machine. Grandma Cichon, who lived further down Seneca, would send me to Fay’s in the old Twin Fair Plaza to buy milk. It was cheaper there, but i can also remember having to take back a carton or two because it was expired.