Presidents’ Day and Presidents Books with love

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

This is the first book I ever wanted.

We didn’t have a lot of money, but mom let me get it from the bookstore at the Main Place Mall when I was maybe 5 or 6 years old.

That must have been a heck of a trip on the Seneca bus downtown with me, my little brother, and little sister– 5,3, and 2– mom by herself.

I’m sure there was a reason we were downtown, but I don’t remember. I do remember that Main Street was all torn up— we watched the jackhammers out the window of McDonald’s, where we had lunch.

We walked a few blocks down Main as they were doing construction to make way for the MetroRail, crossed back over Main and went into Main Place, and there, in front of the Walden Books, right by the stairs, was this Presidents book.

I can still see the display table and feel that deep want– which I don’t recall much from childhood. I was obsessed with the Presidents, but the book we had at home only went up to Nixon.

This one went to the current President, Reagan, and had a huge page of facts about every President— facts I still have more or less memorized.

So thanks, Mom.

Whatever sacrifice we made as a family to buy that book helped fan my love of history and my love of books and my love of finding great things downtown. It’s served me well… and I’ve tried to put it to use to serve others, too.

Happy Presidents Day.

Mom’s good scissors

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

When we were growing up, my mom was generally pretty steady and even keeled. Under almost every circumstance, she was very difficult to rile.

Unless you touched her scissors.

Sadly, in retrospect, it was a line we crossed regularly with laughter and impunity– we the other heartless bastards of her family.

Poor mom had very little to herself. By the time she graduated grammar school, she had six brothers and sisters. She married at 20 and had three kids by 26.

In all that time, as far as I can tell, the only gosh-darned thing she ever wanted for herself were those scissors.

Now we had scissors all over the house, at least half-a-dozen of those severe heavy steel ones with black handles.

The problem was that each of these pairs of scissors– with the gloss black painted handles– had issues. There wasn’t a perfect pair among them.

Some were dull, some had a loose pivot screw, some had tips broken off. None could zip quickly up wrapping paper like Mom’s could.

In our house, it seemed the best course of action for any cutting need was to rip out a piece of mom’s heart– and rip off her scissors.

These babies were beautiful.

fays measuring cup
The fact that I could find a photo of this exact obscure Fay’s Drugs glass measuring cup online  means that almost everything is on the internet.

Not just merely scissors, these were shears– orange handled shears– sticking out among the pens, pencils, and Emory boards in a Fay’s Drugs measuring cup on mom’s nightstand.

Of course, mom was well within her rights to be so protective.

We were like wild Neanderthals, just barely able to understand the proper use of a crude axe, and this pair of scissors was the precision tool of a seamstress, meant to be used with delicate cloth and thread.

While I’m still not convinced, that as Mom said, “Cutting paper with them will ruin them!”– I do know that something terrible happened to every other pair of scissors in the house to render them somehow useless, and she had every right to be concerned about the future of her scissors in our hands.

For one, my dad had no handyman sense, and it would have been completely plausible that he could have ruined these scissors trying to fix the lawnmower or a leaky drain with them.

Us kids inherited our ol’man’s lack of differentiation of tools, and any of us might have used the scissors to carve a point on a stick or to cut open a pop can like the guy on the Ginzu commercials.

ginzu can

Of course, we’d laugh and laugh when mom would lose her mind over HER scissors… but it’s understandable now, for sure.

Especially when my wife grabs for the kitchen shears out of the knife block to clip coupons.

Even when I hold my tongue, my blood pressure still rises because that’s what we bought those dollar store scissors for– clipping coupons.

It’s pretty much an incontrovertible fact that kitchen shears– meant for food prep stuff– are ruined by coupon clipping.

Just ask my mom.