Sign of the times

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

When I was a kid at Holy Family grammar school in South Buffalo, I loved election season. Watching the news with my dad every night, I got to know all the players on the local scene, and through my ol’man’s instant, savage analysis, I always knew who was a good guy and who was a chump.

That was fun, but just as exciting for me was driving around and looking at all the big colorful lawn signs.

We never had a sign on our lawn, but like a lot of South Buffalonians in the 80s, my grandparents usually had one for Mayor Griffin or one of the Keane brothers (Assemblyman Dick or Councilman Jim) stapled to the front of the porch.

Some kids liked to drive around looking at Christmas lights or spooky Halloween graveyards— but during political season, Dad would take us the long way to grandma’s house, maybe down McKinley Parkway, to look at all the political signs on the big lawns.

In some kind of simplified kindergartner way, I loved and appreciated the artistry in the varied designs and executions.

“Fahey At Large” might as well have been by Rembrandt or “LoVallo” by Monet.

Well done paint on wood was always eye-catching, but far more rare than it’s sloppy-stenciled cousins which seemed to be everywhere. But the printed signs were like works of art to me. The color choices. The fonts. Was it plain or well designed? How did they look after rain? Did the staple job detract from the sign?

Something, too, about three houses in a row with the same sign in the same spot. Or the uniqueness of a single sign among dozens of signs for “the other guy.”

Then and now, no where does all this drama play out better than Potters Road between Mount Mercy and the city line.

Unlike the manicured and rolling expanses of green on wide and open McKinley, houses seem almost on the street along some parts of Potters.

And it seems like just about everyone on Potters is in the game, maybe even why they moved there in the first place. The manic jumble of lawn signs make the tight ride even more claustrophobic if not thrilling, with the dozens, even hundreds of signs over those few long blocks next to the creek, including many that you wouldn’t see anywhere else in South Buffalo.

Potters during Election time has always felt like the lights of Times Square or the Vegas Strip to me… and this time, it’s my name out there… on a great sign designed by my friend Jake Wagner.

Wow, ya know? Kneeling next to a sign with my own name on it on Potters Road, 14210.

It’s really a lot of work and easy to get caught up in the grind of running for office– it’s nice to be reminded of how amazing all this is every once in a while.

I can’t wait to serve as your next Erie County Clerk. More on my plans at steveforclerk.com.

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.