Buffalo in the ’70s: Up in the Oranges, hanging on for dear life

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

As hockey season gets underway in Buffalo, inevitably someone will wax poetic about the great old days of watching the Sabres at Memorial Auditorium.

Buffalo News archives

While the memories might be sweet, the modern hockey fan might not last even one period without complaint.

This 1973 photo shows the extreme pitch of seats in the Orange section of the Aud as compared to the grade in the Upper Blue section just below.  Even the most thrilling fights on the ice were often outmatched by the hundreds of people fighting vertigo after standing up too quickly from their perch in the Orange section after a beer or three.

The photo also shows one of The Aud’s features which even the most nostalgic fan has a hard time recalling with warmth. Look at the legs underneath the lighted sign, and remember the obstructed Upper Blue seats, from which fans watched a good portion of the hockey action on ancient television sets dangling from the underside of the Oranges.

The plastic-backed orange seats date to the 1971 expansion of The Aud, when the roof was raised to make room for the upper level.

The wooden blue seats—which before the expansion were gray—dated back to the original construction of Memorial Auditorium in 1940.

The Aud closed in 1996 as the Sabres (as well as the Bandits and Blizzard) moved into Marine Midland Arena (now First Niagara Center.)

Memorial Auditorium was slowly dismantled in 2009, and the site is now covered with canals replicating the original Erie Canal. The canals are open for paddle boats in warmer weather, and ice skating when frozen. A marker in the canal points to where The Aud’s center ice faceoff dot once was.

Buffalo in the ’50s: ‘Gorgeous George’ arrives in Buffalo, perfumes his room

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Sixty-five years ago,  wrestling was treated like a legitimate sport on the pages of The News, with the comings and goings of wrestlers and blow-by-blow details of the matches detailed in words and photos.  It was also covered live on Buffalo’s only TV station, The News’ Channel 4, as well as on radio stations, including WBEN.

August 3, 1950.

What can only be described as the entrance of “Hollywood’s perfumed and marcelled wrestling orchid” Gorgeous George into Buffalo and his eventual defeat of Maurice “The Angel” Tillet were right there with Bisons news from Offermann Stadium.

The review of the match was written by Hall of Fame writer Cy Kritzer — who was best known for his nearly 40 years as The News’ main baseball writer.

Buffalo in the ’40s: SharkGirl marks the spot where steamers left from Buffalo

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

The Canadiana, and its trips to Crystal Beach from the foot of Main Street are well remembered around Western New York.

Perhaps not as well remembered were the luxury steamers that would pick up passengers right around the spot where people now pose with “SharkGirl,” and take them across the Great Lakes to places like Detroit, Cleveland and Chicago.

Shark Girl currently sits on the site of Memorial Auditorium, number 4 in this 1940s photo. There’s a passenger ship docked at the current site of the Naval Park. A generation earlier, the docks extended up the Commercial Slip– which was filled in by the time this photo was taken, but was re-watered as a part of the development of Canalside. (Buffalo Stories archives)

Both of these ads were in The Buffalo Evening News in July, 1940, and both offer Buffalonians the chance to travel via the Great Lakes.

Buffalo in the 90’s: Ice and the Hammer at the Aud

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Hammertime!

Buffalo Stories archives

“Exclusive” sticker patches from Kiss 98.5’s Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer concerts from the early 90s at Memorial Auditorium.

Vanilla Ice played Buffalo March 7, 1991 and MC Hammer played the Aud on October 13, 1990.

These were in the drawer of the desk I inherited down the hall from Kiss 98.5.

Milt Ellis, Norm Wullen, Joe Byron, and the sounds of The Aud

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

miltellis
Milt Ellis

Buffalo, NY – He was so understated, you didn’t miss him until he was gone.

But there’s no doubt I’m not the only one who can’t help myself when I’m in an echoey room– I have to break loose with a Milt Ellis tribute.

1st Buffalo Goal, his second of the season, scored by number 20 Brent Peterson. assists to number number 7 Dale McCourt, and number 23 Hannu Virta. Peterson, from McCourt and Virta. Time of the Goal, 13:22.

Every Buffalo hockey fan past a certain age has a Milt Ellis impression, whether they know it or not. Milt is a Buffalo institution– although he’d be the last one to say so. He’s the most humble, sincere, honest man you’ll ever meet.

The Aud Complete with scoreboard, overhang Oranges, and "Cigarette Butt" Sound Baffles hanging fromt he ceiling.
The Aud: complete with scoreboard, overhang Oranges, and “Cigarette Butt” Sound Baffles hanging from the ceiling.
Stan Barron
Stan Barron

Milt’s Memorial Auditorium public address career started with the AHL Hockey Bisons in the mid-60s. His friend Stan Barron was the PR man for the Bisons, and they needed a new PA announcer. Stan called Milt and Milt continued to be the voice of goals, penalties, and New York State Smoking Regulations until 1997 (yes, he worked for two years in the then-Marine Midland Arena.)

Longtime Leafs PA Announcer Paul Morris
Paul Morris

A hockey fan long before the Sabres skated into Buffalo, Milt has always held a place in his heart for the Leafs. When he was growing up, he could get the Leafs games on the radio and TV. Though he’ll tell you he really doesn’t consider himself having a “style,” has has said that he’s always admired the work of longtime Leafs PA Announcer Paul Morris.

Sabres broadcast crew, Mid-80s, in the Memorial Auditorium Press Box. Mike Robitaille, Jim Lorentz, Rick Jeanneret, Ted Darling
Sabres broadcast crew, Mid-80s, in the Memorial Auditorium Press Box. Mike Robitaille, Jim Lorentz, Rick Jeanneret, Ted Darling

The Milt Ellis Jukebox is filled with Milt’s Public Address announcements, as well as other ephemeral sound from a night at The Aud.

Many will remember Milt introducing “The National Anthem, with Tenor Joe Byron and organist Norm Wullen.”

Selections from both men are programmed into the jukebox… Also included are a full length interview Mike Schopp conducted with Milt at WNSA Radio in 2001, and a portion of a show from WDCX– The Christian Station that was Milt’s “Day Job” the entire time he was the Sabres PA announcer.

Also a brief clip from one of the men Milt looked up to as a PA Announcer… The Voice of Maple Gardens, longtime Toronto PA man Paul Morris.

miltjukebox


Reformatted & Updated pages from staffannouncer.com finding a new home at buffalostories.com
Reformatted & Updated pages from staffannouncer.com finding a new home at buffalostories.com