What it looked like Wednesday: Lines at the grocery during World War II rationing, 1943

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

The Office of Price Administration was actually established several months before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, as the country prepared for the possibility of war.

Weeks after the declaration of war, price controls and rationing were implemented on all manner of consumer goods except agricultural products.

Ben Dykstra, butcher and grocer at the corner of Main and Merrimac in University Heights, shows off the full March, 1943 ration of canned goods for a family of four.

Buffalo News archives

Buffalo News archives

Families had to register for ration books, as Mrs. EW England was doing at School 16 on Delaware and Hodge in 1943.

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Women jammed markets when they knew they could get good meat. Such was the case at Neber & McGill Butchers on William Street in 1943.

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Additional ration points could be earned by turning in food waste, like grease, for the war effort. Mrs. Robert Bond of Hampshire Street collected four cents and two brown ration points for turning in a pound of rendered kitchen fat to Anthony Scime, of Scime Brothers Grocery, at Hampshire and 19th on the West Side.

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Even after the war, shortages continued. This is the scene at the Mohican Market on Main Street near Fillmore in 1946, on a day when butter was available.

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The News called it “a mob scene” inside, where Office of Price Administration rules dropped the price to 53 cents. Some markets, confused by the change in rules, were selling for 64 cents.

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The OPA was dissolved and price controls ended in 1947.

The Buffalo You Should Know: WNY amusement parks through the decades

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Just what counts as an amusement park has been determined on a sliding scale since the phrase was first recorded in the 1890s.

Buffalo News archives

Crystal Beach, 1989. (Buffalo News archives)

Tell an iPad kid of today that he’s going to an amusement park, and visions of mega-coasters and waterparks at Darien Lake or Disney World will dance in his head.

It’s a far cry from when Buffalonians of not-so-long-ago were contented with the tilt-a-whirl and a merry-go-round permanently set up in some department store parking lot.

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For a century, Buffalo’s gold standard for amusement parks — no matter how that term was defined — was Crystal Beach. When it was founded in 1888, Crystal Beach was celebrated for the healing powers of its natural sand and crystal-clear waters. Steamboat excursions from Buffalo, first on the Puritan and the Pearl and later on the Americana and Canadiana, brought visitors to Lake Erie’s Canadian shores, but also to several similar resorts along the shores of Western New York.

Elmwood Beach Grand Island

In 1897, Grand Island’s Elmwood Beach was promoted as the only temperance — that is, alcohol-free — park and beach on the American side of the international border. It was opened in 1894 by the White Line lake steamer company, to provide its passengers with a destination it called “The Island Paradise of Buffalo.” It was operated by Harvey Ferren, owner of the Court Street Theatre downtown.

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It was built as “a safe place for bathing” for women and children, with hard white-sand beaches. Special park police made sure that there was no “objectionable swim attire” at this summer resort that “was on a scale previously unknown in the area.” The fact that no liquor was sold there made it a popular destination for church groups, which boarded the boat to the resort at the foot of Ferry Street.

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Elmwood Beach was one of a handful of such resorts that popped up on Grand Island. Eldorado Beach was another.

New “high-class amusements and novelties” were unveiled for the 1899 season, but by 1910, the place had been abandoned. The parcel eventually became part of Beaver Island State Park, unveiled in 1939.

West Seneca’s Lein’s Park, Cheektowaga’s Bellvue Park, Fillmore Avenue’s Teutonia Park

These rustic, outdoorsy amusement areas were a drive out to the country in their day, but the land they were once located upon has long since been developed. The areas were used most by Buffalo’s growing German immigrant population.

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Lein’s Park was built over the course of nearly a decade by Gardenville’s Henry Lein, just south of Cazenovia Creek and what is now Southgate Plaza on Union Road, starting in 1895.

Home to a bear pit, bowling alley and dance hall, the park closed up at some point after Lein — who served as West Seneca town supervisor — was found guilty of graft and sent to prison in Auburn in 1913. He was later pardoned by the governor and re-elected supervisor.

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Buffalo’s German-Americans were clearly the target clientele for Fillmore Avenue’s Teutonia Park, “the family resort of the East Side” of the 1880s and 1890s.

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While catering to Germans, the grounds one block north of Martin Luther King Jr. (then Parade) Park were owned by Baptist Kahabka, “one of Buffalo’s leading Polish citizens.” The park was one of Buffalo’s leading sports and conventions grounds, with boxing matches and picnics attracting crowds of up to 10,000 people somewhat regularly.

In 1921, the city cleared the land where the park once stood, and built East High School on the easternmost part of the plot.

Bellevue Park sprang up along Cayuga Creek at the last stop of a trolley line from Buffalo. The Bellevue Hotel on Como Park Boulevard was once a part of the sprawling 30-acre park, which was open until around the turn of the century.

Bellvue-Park

Woodlawn Beach

Touted as “The American resort for Americans,” Woodlawn Beach tried to take on Crystal Beach directly, hoping to scoop up some of the thousands who arrived at Buffalo’s Central Wharf to get on ships bound for Canada.

Buffalo Stories archives

Buffalo Stories archives

The steamer Corona, and later the steamer Puritan, took passengers to Woodlawn Beach four times daily from Buffalo. The grounds opened in 1892 with a toboggan slide and “ice-cream” as main attractions. As early as 1894, ads also bragged about the park’s being “illuminated with electricity.”

In 1920, it was electricity that was bringing Buffalonians to Woodlawn in streetcars on what was billed as “only a seven-minute ride” from downtown. Two years later, Bethlehem Steel bought up some of the property for use as a slag dump, but the old roller coaster and amusements stayed in place in various states of operation through the Great Depression.

The evolution of many of these Victorian health retreats and picnic grounds into the more modern amusement park concept was pushed along by one of the great marvels of Buffalo’s 1901 Pan-American Exposition: “A Trip to the Moon.”

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Located on the Midway on near what is Amherst Street today, “A Trip to the Moon” offered 60 passengers at once the most technologically advanced amusement of its time. A ride in a “spaceship” offered a simulated tour of the moon.

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The ride caught the fancy of tens of thousands of visitors to Buffalo and at least that many Buffalonians. That was no doubt behind the idea in naming the features of Fairyland Park at Jefferson at Ferry after the Pan-Am’s big attractions. In 1910, “the Mecca of pleasure-seekers” was promoting its midway and Temple of Music — both with names taken directly from the Pan-Am. But other budget attractions inspired by the world-class event included Mysterious Asia, Cave of the Winds, White Horse Tavern, Southern Plantation, Japanese Rolling Balls, Minerva the Mystic and Reed’s Big Congress of Novelties.

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“Luna Park was built just after the Pan-American Exposition and was the nearest thing to Coney Island in the pleasure line that Buffalo had to offer,” reported the Buffalo Courier in 1909 after the city’s biggest-ever amusement park burned to the ground at the corner of Main and Jefferson.

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Click for larger view. Buffalo Stories archives

Renamed Carnival Court, the old Luna Park cost more than $250,000 to rebuild. Five cents admission gained you access to rides like Shoot the Chutes, the L. A. Thompson Mountain Scenic Railway, Auto-whirl, Witching Water Ways, Galloping-Horse Carousel, Human Roulette Wheel and Ocean Waves.

Buffalo News archives

Buffalo News archives

The site was razed to make way for a Sears Roebuck store and parking ramp in 1929. Both of those former Sears structures are now part of the Canisius College campus.

Built in Western New York

A Western New York company gave rise to many smaller amusement parks around the country in the years following World War II.

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When demand for the handcrafted carousels that had made the company famous since 1880 started to wane, North Tonawanda’s Allan Herschell Co. began making smaller amusement rides it marketed as attractions to small and large venues alike.

Opened originally in the 1920s as a dance pavilion, Lalle’s at Lake Bay, Angola, steadily added amusement rides and booths through the 1940s and 1950s. New amusements for 1947 included the miniature zeppelin, auto and railroad rides, the Dodge-Em, the Ocean Wave and the Chair Plane.

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These smaller amusements were used to entice parents to bring their children — and maybe do some additional shopping — in several places around Western New York. Buffalo’s first suburban mega-shopping center, the Thruway Plaza, opened in 1952 with a handful of rides in its Kiddie Ranch.

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Just up Walden Avenue, on the corner of Dick Road, stood Twin Fair Kiddieland in the parking lot of the department store.

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In Niagara County, Page’s Kiddyland at Packard and Military first stood to help draw customers to the Simon-Gulf gas station and then the Whistle Pig restaurant.

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One of Western New York’s smallest-yet-long-lasting amusement attractions was Dealing’s on Niagara Falls Boulevard near Ellicott Creek Park.

Buffalo Stories archives

Buffalo Stories archives

The Dealing family first built an elaborately carved carousel on their Niagara Falls Boulevard farm in 1929. After returning from World War II, Earl Dealing added about a half-dozen rides to the one put up by his father. He ran Dealing’s Amusement Park until 1980.

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Nestled off Main Street in the Village of Williamsville, Harry Altman’s Glen Park Casino is remembered for high-quality musical and Hollywood entertainment and was a regular stop for acts as varied as Sammy Davis Jr. and the Three Stooges. Those too young to remember the music just might remember the rides.

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Up to 6,000 people or more would fill the tiny park on holidays in the 1960s. The Glen Park Casino, renamed Inferno, burned down in a $300,000 blaze in 1968. The area was developed into a park in 1975.

Glen Park. Buffalo Stories archives.

Glen Park. (Buffalo Stories archives)

Western New York children of the 1970s might remember Fun-N-Games Park just off the Youngmann in Tonawanda.

Buffalo Stories archives

Buffalo Stories archives

Another instance of amusement rides in a Twin Fair parking lot, the park’s most memorable feature might have been the unconnected roadside attraction in front of it—the whale car wash.

Buffalo News archives

Buffalo News archives

The larger parks like Crystal Beach, Fantasy Island and Darien Lake were built and promoted as regional destinations, and likely remembered by almost anyone who grew up in Western New York, but these smaller parks are just as memorable in our own experiences or the stories or our parents and grandparents of days gone by.

Fantasy Island, 1960s. Buffalo News archives.

Fantasy Island, 1960s. (Buffalo News archives)

Preserving Buffalo’s Medina sandstone street curbs

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

As with most things in life, the smallest details can make a great difference.

As our region’s rebirth and renaissance continues, more and more of us in Western New York are coming to better appreciate many of wonderful little oddities which combine to make Buffalo poised to use our uniqueness as a standout city for generations to come.

The things that “make Buffalo, Buffalo” should never be more important than they are now.

On Buffalo's Parkside Avenue, a road construction project shows the intersection of historic and unique with commonplace and less complicated.
On Buffalo’s Parkside Avenue, a road construction project shows the intersection of historic and unique with commonplace and less complicated.
I’m hoping to call attention to one small element in Buffalo’s unique character, which is easily overlooked until it’s gone.

For generations, when Buffalo’s Common Council ordered roads built, the call for Medina Sandstone curbs was written right into the legislation. Many of the red curbs of Buffalo have been in place since the time when it was horses, and not cars navigating between those curbs.

A decades-old piece of Medina Sandstone curb. The ridges on the flat surfaces show the old world stonecutting methods used in building Buffalo. This section will be replaced with white granite as a part of a road construction project.
A decades-old piece of Medina Sandstone curb. The ridges on the flat surfaces show the old world stonecutting methods used in building Buffalo. This section will be replaced with white granite as a part of a road construction project.

 

The oldest and most prevalent of these streetside chunks of stone still show the striations of old world craftsmanship, and serve as a citywide network of direct physical links to a time when Buffalo was one of the nation’s largest, wealthiest, and most modern cities.

Considered rare and beautiful and used sparing around the world in buildings like Buckingham Palace, Buffalo was lucky to be so close to the Orleans County quarry where the red rock came from that entire churches and buildings, and yes, even curbs were made from the stuff.

With great limits on new Medina Sandstone, especially for something as pedestrian as curbing, Buffalo has turned with greater frequency to the less exciting granite for curbs.

The gleaming white granite does the job of creating a barrier between the road and the sidewalk, but can we agree that it’s lacking in the spectacular and rich history and beauty of our uniquely Buffalo Medina Sandstone?

As roads are reconstructed with additional curbing for safety, and street/sidewalk intersections are being rebuilt to make them more accessible for those using strollers and wheelchairs, it’s understandable that our decades and centuries old red curbs might have to be replaced.

However, it’s my hope that now and in the future, a greater emphasis might be given in the consideration of reusing these materials whenever possible. Further, that if the nature of construction prohibits the reuse of the curbing at a particular site, that the removed curbing be saved for use at a future site where some additional curbing might be necessary to maintain the Medina Sandstone.

I love the look of the Medina sandstone curbs which have been in front of my house for more than 100 years, but if they have to be replaced, I'd love for the stone to be used in some other project so that the red curbs might be able to be saved there.
I love the look of the Medina sandstone curbs which have been in front of my house for more than 100 years, but if they have to be replaced, I’d love for the stone to be used in some other project so that the red curbs might be able to be saved there.

 

I would ask that the City Engineering and Public Works Departments move to create rules to this effect, and that the Common Council move to create law to make sure that it happens.

Too much of our city’s heritage had been lost to indifference and mismanagement.

Here’s a case where that doesn’t have to happen, and we can stop putting one of Buffalo’s unique features to the curb.

Torn-down Tuesday: What made way for the Scajaquada Expressway

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Last week, the state Department of Transportation announced the fast-track downgrade of the Scajaquada Expressway  to “Scajaquada Boulevard.” When this undated photo was taken – probably in the 1950s – there was barely a “Scajaquada Path.”

Buffalo News archives

Still familiar landmarks include what was then Mount St. Joseph Teachers College, now the main building of Medaille College, at the bottom left. To the right, Agassiz Circle remains in name only—this is now the 198/Parkside intersection. The park parking lot is also very similar today.

At the top of the larger photo, shown in detail below, you will notice the still familiar ball diamonds – but none of the on- and off-ramps for the Scajaquada Expressway. You’ll notice that some of the lots at Middlesex and Delaware remain undeveloped in the photo.

The biggest change, of course, is the four-lane highway which would now be running through the middle of the page.

Buffalo in the ’40s: The Zoo’s Marlin Perkins and Eddie the Chimp

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

As Mutual of Omaha’s “Wild Kingdom” was on the air from 1963 to 1985, Buffalonians were always quick to claim the host Marlin Perkins as one of our own.

Buffalo News archives

America’s best-known animal lover in the TV age, Perkins grew and expanded the Buffalo Zoo in the years he was curator and then director in the 1930s and 1940s.

Perkins is pictured in 1944 as he was leaving for a new post in Chicago, accepting a suitcase from Eddie the Chimp.

For as famous as Perkins was around the country, he could barely compete with the sensation he created at the Buffalo Zoo.

Eddie was the Buffalo Zoo’s first chimpanzee when he arrived from Africa in 1940. Eddie was friendly and willing to take direction, and Perkins and staff had soon taught Eddie to dance and to shave his keeper — with a straight razor. It was clear that Eddie loved the limelight, and would seemingly do anything for applause. Keepers dressed him in a Marine uniform and the chimp raised money for the USO during World War II.

But soon after Eddie became an adult — when he was 5 or 6 years old — Eddie stopped wanting to perform. One handler said it was pretty clear that Eddie thought of himself as more human than chimp. He never associated with the other chimps and never mated.

By the early 1950s, Eddie was clearly angry. The banana peels he’d fling at passersby were the least offensive organic matter one might get pelted with.

In the late 1950s, after Eddie spat at and threw dung at a group of passing VIPs, glass was placed between Eddie and zoo visitors and the barrier seemed to suit him just fine.

For more than 30 years, visitors to the zoo didn’t know what they might get from Eddie. Maybe a dance, reminiscent of the way he was in the 1940s … or maybe the show looked more like something from a bawdy boys high school locker room.

That was part of Eddie’s somewhat sad draw though — never knowing what you might see.

At the age of 47, Eddie the Chimp was the oldest resident at the Buffalo Zoo when he was euthanized after suffering a stroke in 1985. Perkins died the next year.

The new Parkside Meadow pumps tasty new life into old memories

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Judging by the smells, tastes, and smiles of its first day, the Parkside Meadow (corner of Parkside and Russell avenues, Buffalo) looks poised to be an institution on par with the warmly remembered predecessor you couldn’t go five minutes without hearing about.

Opening night at the Parkside Meadow, Parkside and Russell Avenues, across the street from the Buffalo Zoo. Over locally brewed beers, people remembered the old Park Meadow, enjoyed the tasteful memorabilia displayed and waited for a chance to taste gourmet takes on a variety of sandwiches. (Steve Cichon/Special to The News)

Echoes of the old Park Meadow, the venerable neighborhood fish fry place-turned college party hangout, were everywhere, as strangers reminisced about their days and nights in the PM — those memories growing as hazy as they were on some of those nights.

The good news is the Parkside Meadow, just like the people who remember the old PM, has grown more sophisticated in its current iteration, cultivating a more subdued yet still fascinating environment for drinks and imaginative and tasty takes on sandwich favorites.

The 1950s Iroquois Beer neon sign on the front window offers a pretty good idea of what you should expect inside. (Steve Cichon/Special to The News)

Aside from the stories that come along with the building, the place has been tastefully decorated in with hundreds of museum quality pieces of Buffalo’s industrial, retail, and beer drinking past. Dozens of matchbooks from Buffalo taverns and gin mills of yesteryear. Stoneware jugs from Buffalo’s oldest brewers and distillers. Boxes and crates once filled with bottles of beer like Simon Pure, Iroquois, and Beck’s, all once brewed by proud Buffalonians.

Among the old Buffalo taverns remembered on the walls of the new Parkside Meadow: The Park Meadow, which was a neighborhood fish fry and college party institution from the 1950s through the 1980s. (Steve Cichon/Special to The News)

From the display cases, to the walls, down to each tabletop, food delivered to your tabletop is almost an interruption of taking in what Buffalo once was. But then you take a bite, and it’s all about the plate in front of you.

Among the blasts from the past: Salt and pepper shakers made from Visniak and other old Buffalo pop bottles. (Steve Cichon/Special to The News)

The menu is simple. It’s a single sheet of heavy stock with a large selection of gourmet-style takes on sandwiches ranging from shaved lamb to fried bologna plus a few salads and larger entrees. The menu offers a chance for some interesting tastes on a corner tavern budget– nine of the menu’s 11 sandwiches are less than $10 and include fries. The full bar offers seven different locally sourced beers on tap, ranging from McKenzie’s Hard Cider and Rusty Chain to the venerable Genesee.

Opening night was a Friday night, and just like any good Buffalo spot, fish was on the menu. Three broiled options and one fried. The Hush puppy and beer-battered fish fry is a true-to-the-original twist on a Buffalo favorite, with batter that was a hint sweet and very thick and tasty.

A Buffalo Friday night at the Parkside Meadow: Hush puppy beer-battered haddock, with skin-on fries and cole slaw, and a Genesee draft. (Steve Cichon/Special to The News)

Whether you have foggy memories of the Park Meadow you’d like to relive or you’re just looking for a new spot that from food to atmosphere is really different from any other place in Buffalo, a stop at the Parkside Meadow is recommended.

This review originally appeared in Gusto.

Parkside’s community activist and community mom, Ruth Lampe

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

 

Our community’s self-styled “Deputy Dog” and “Mother Hen” has succumbed after a long valiant fight against cancer.

Ruth Lampe was no-nonsense and tough as nails, but also loved her friends, family, and community with fierce and burning passion.

She was a force of nature and in a category all her own. Her style and sensibility was a beautifully complementary combination of Iowa farm girl, 1960’s style left-wing radical activist and motherly protector and influence to all who knew her.

In a society where most people like to meet and vote– or worse, just complain– when problems arise, Ruth roared and steamrolled for what she thought was right. And once she pushed her way to the front of an issue, she took command and was relentless and got things done.

After more than 40 years of community and civic activism in Parkside, she knew everyone– and knew most of their fathers, too. Widely accepted as speaking for the community and fair, her aggressive tactics were usually met with open arms by the powers that be– with the knowledge that having Ruth on your side was always a smart move.

But it wasn’t just about sweeping grand notions with Ruth– it was about sweeping up after events. And moving chairs. And helping at the ticket table. She was the sort of leader who lead by example every step of the way, and would never ask anyone to do something she hadn’t already done and wasn’t getting ready to do again.

All that is wonderful, but to really turn the rusty wheels of change– you inevitably rankle the comfortably accepting of the substandard or offensive.

You know Ruth Lampe was a hero by the number of people who wince– even decades later– at hearing her name. It may have happened during the city’s 1982 free paint program, but 33 years later, there are still those in Parkside who will snear, “Ruth Lampe made me paint my house.” She always made an impact. She sure did on me.

When my phone rang during lunch on two weeks ago yesterday, I smiled to see the name Ruth Lampe on the caller ID.

She’d been terminally ill with untreatable cancer, but I was thinking of how I’d been filled with joy when I saw a thin-but-healthy Ruth out on Hertel going to dinner with her husband David a couple weeks before. I was about to run up to say hi when a couple of little munchkins hop out of the car, too.

Selfishly, I stopped and enjoyed watching her be grandma from half a block away. I’m sure she would have enjoyed a hello and a hug, but I wasn’t going to intrude on grandkid time, and I really enjoyed seeing her in that element.

She looked great that day, and that was in my mind as I answered the phone.

With genuine excitement I hit the button and offered a “Hey Ruth!”

Without thinking, I followed with a “How are ya!” which I genuinely meant– but said without thinking given her battle.

My upfront question meant the call got right down to business. She talked about the next stage. Hospital beds at home, making final plans.

Ruth’s last great gift to those who love her is taking on the final project of her life with the bullheaded strength and tenacity she’s shown every project she’s ever undertaken. She was planning her own goodbye– one she knew was coming in a period of time that could be counted in days more than weeks or months.

It was a classic Ruth moment of organization– but of course it’s different. This isn’t fighting with mayors over stop signs or school boards looking for racial balance and equality in our neighborhood public school.

I don’t know that I ever heard this great woman resigned to anything– but she was calm, accepting, and willing to put her and her loved ones into the hands of the Lord. The peaceful beauty and dignity with which she faced this grand struggle is awe inspiring.

This final battle is for everything. We want to help, just like with every other battle we’ve joined her for– but no letters to the editor or picket carrying can help.

We always say, “Anything I can do,” which is always true. But I think we say it more to help ourselves through the thought of someone else’s pain. Someone in Ruth’s situation really doesn’t want to be handing out jobs, you know?

So, I’ve tried not to say that. Ruth and her husband David know it’s true– anything– but I try not to say it.

What I’ve tried to do, since back pain turned to cancer turned to just a matter of time, is just remind them both in little, hopefully unobtrusive ways that I love them both very much.

There are no more cliches. Just what’s real. What else can you really do but love and pray and answer the phone when it rings?

Which it did during lunch on a Friday two weeks ago.

And Ruth asked me to be a pall bearer. At her own funeral. Taking what she could off the plate of her soon to be grieving and devastated family, by fighting and loving the best way she knew how— by doing.

I have little right to be emotional as this incredible woman powered through what was the start of her final two weeks among us, but I can’t help but be moved to tears by the thought of it. This woman, our neighborhood queen and sheriff and mother asked me to do the honor of presenting her earthly remains to her friends and to her church and to their final resting place…. That someone who has meant so much to me as a civic leader, as a mentor, as a cage-rattling compatriot, as a friend– can even think of me at all as the sun sets on her beautiful life, but that she would so powerfully and personally offer me this honor leaves me just without words… Other than…

I love you, Ruth. The many many many of us you’ve touched, we all love you.

And we’ve all learned from you. The trail you’ve blazed in fighting for what’s right won’t grow cold so long as I’m here to battle forward with the gifts of knowledge and strength you’ve given us all.

The spirit you’ve kindled lives on… and doesn’t show any signs of letting up.

The home owners enjoy as much as the ticket holders: The 16th annual Parkside Tour of Homes

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

BUFFALO, NY – “I love to be a part of busting open any preconceived notion.”

Devon Karn thinks when she and her husband Kevin open their home for the 16th Annual Parkside Tour of Homes (Sunday, May 18, 2014) that a handful of assumptions about the neighborhood and its homes could fly out the stained glass art window.

Over the last 15 years, hundreds of Parkside homes have opened their doors to tens of thousands of people from all over the globe for the annual Parkside Tour of Homes. This year’s self guided tour of ten homes shows the wide array of architecture in the neighborhood, from a modest, half-furnished bungalow to glimpse of the work Frank Lloyd Wright considered his finest. (Photo by Steve Cichon/Buffalo Stories LLC Archives)
Over the last 15 years, hundreds of Parkside homes have opened their doors to tens of thousands of people from all over the globe for the annual Parkside Tour of Homes. This year’s self guided tour of ten homes shows the wide array of architecture in the neighborhood, from a modest, half-furnished bungalow to glimpse of the work Frank Lloyd Wright considered his finest. (Photo by Steve Cichon/Buffalo Stories LLC Archives)

“Parkside is known for the big, beautiful, sprawling majestic homes,” says Karn, “but interspersed among them are smaller, slightly more accessible homes that are like ours– a comfortable bungalow.”

The young couple hasn’t even lived at their Parkside address two years yet– there’s a long to-do list, but she says there’s no shame in showing off a home that’s a work in progress. In fact, from her perspective, that’s a bit of the charm. “It doesn’t have some of the grandeur of some of the Victorian homes, but we do have some of the interesting details– the leaded glass, the woodwork, the central fireplace– they all make for very comfortable homes.”

Comfortable and lived in homes of all shapes, sizes and styles, just like the people of Parkside.

“I wanted to put our little, comfortable, humble bungalow on the tour, to offer that no-holds-barred, open door approach that exemplifies the Parkside attitude,” says Karn. “The people in this neighborhood are the most open, most inviting– It’s one of the most participatory neighborhoods in the City of Buffalo. It’s not an exclusive neighborhood. It’s so open, so welcoming. Come as you are. The fact that we will have our not quite-perfect, yet still intriguing space on the tour is a testament to the community.”

And while her little sliver of the Frederick Law Olmsted designed neighborhood offers one perspective, Karn loves the tapestry woven by all the parts blended together. “Part of the beauty of this Home Tour,” says Karn, “is the variety people get to see.”

The variety will be underlined for tour goers who walk the half-a-block from Devon’s humble bungalow to the imposing Arts & Crafts American Four Square home of Ken Wells and his wife, Phyllis.

Once the home of a Congressman and later to a family of 11, the beautiful brick, original woodwork, wrap-around porch and historical past occupants offer a bit more grandeur, but it’s still simply a family home.

“In the spring, summer and fall we live on our front porch,” says Wells. “The backyard is our oasis. It is the main gathering place for parties and just hanging out.”

Showing off is part of the fun, and it’s why Pat Lalonde is back on the tour again this year.

Five years ago her home was featured, but one new project she knows will be the envy of many people who live in older homes. “For the first time in the 30 years I’ve lived here, I now have a first floor half-bath,” says Lalonde, who also has a new screened-in back porch and new room configurations to show.

The cleverly configured bathroom might inspire folks to finally build the powder room of their dreams, but Lalonde admits: Putting her home on the tour again is as much for her as the hundreds of people who’ll be coming through.

“I had a blast the first time,” says Lalonde. “People were so nice; they said so many wonderful things about my house. I was thinking my house isn’t all that special– there’s no Arts & Crafts style or the natural woodwork… But all the great comments made me realize that my house really does have some really interesting features.”

The event is the biggest annual fundraiser for the non-profit Parkside Community Association. They hope you’ll stop by May 18, and find out why so many people are passionate about the homes that are like none other, as well as the community of people that is like none other.

For more information, including buying tickets, visit the 2014 Home Tour page on the Parkside Community Association website.

Book About Two Who Lived For Kids, St Mark, to Benefit Parish School

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

BUFFALO, NY –  They are called “Father” and “Sister” and it’s a case where they both really feel like members of hundreds of Central Park, Parkside, and North Buffalo families. It’s also a case of reciprocated love and concern.

msgrbraunsrjeannecrop
Msgr. Francis Braun and Sr. Jeanne Eberle each lead a part of St. Mark for three decades. Fr. Braun was Pastor of St. Mark Roman Catholic Church for 30 years, Sr. Jeanne was Principal at St. Mark School for 35 years. (Photo courtesy WNY Catholic)

Before each retired in the last few years, you had to go back to the 1970s to find someone else doing the jobs they loved, heading the St. Mark Parish and St. Mark School.

Though they approached their jobs with personalities almost as different as two human beings could be, Sr. Jeanne Eberle and Msgr. Francis Braun spent 30 years of ther lives selflessly and tirelessly giving their love and of themselves for the people of St. Mark, particularly the smallest ones.

For decades it was a common sight to see kindergarteners and first graders line up to give Sr. Jeanne a hug at the start or end of a school day, while the too-cool seventh and eighth graders walked on by, all with Fr. Braun watching closely, stationed on his own side of the hedge separating the rectory and the school.

It happened many times through the years, though, that the “too cool” kids became parents of St. Mark kids, once again willing participants in hugs for the woman who they know cared as much for their kids as they did themselves.

At Mass on Sunday, Msgr. Braun’s stories of days gone by, and his family made most of us feel like we were listening to stories of our own family. His grandfather the cop, the Crystal Beach boat, the firehouse around the corner, his Irish mom and German dad. We might still know Father’s family stories better than our own.

As the author of two books, including “The Complete History of Parkside,” Steve Cichon wants to write this story because these people are very special to him and the community.

“The history of St. Mark is rich and fascinating, and there are many wonderful stories to tell. From the stained glass depictions of events in the life of Jesus, to the thinly veiled anti-Catholic bigotry which lead to St. Mark being built at the corner of Woodward and Amherst, no one tells those stories better than Fr. Braun,” says Cichon.

“It’s only a natural extention, then, to also talk to Father about his life and times, and to record all of the great stories he shared about himself with us through the years. The same is true of Sr. Jeanne. It’s as much a genealogy project about two beloved family members as it is a book about our church. I’m blessed and honored to have so much support in writing and researching it.”

The hope is to have the work completed by the end of 2014, the 100th anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone of the current St. Mark church building.

If you have any photos, items, or stories pertaining to the history of St. Mark,
please contact Steve Cichon at steve@buffalostories.com

stmarkfrontcover

The book is now available at The Buffalo Stories Bookstore.

New Book! The Complete History of Parkside

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

The Complete History of Parkside, Buffalo, NY
A New Book by Buffalo Author Steve Cichon

A history of the Frederick Law Olmsted designed neighborhood, from its place in the history of the Seneca Nation, to its role in the War of 1812, to Olmsted’s design and the turn of the century building out of the area, and the neighborhood’s 20th century evolutions. Included are discussions of the area’s earliest colorful settlers, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin Martin House, Delaware Park, The Buffalo Zoo, and the stories and anecdotes of many more struggles, individuals, and institutions that have made Parkside one of Buffalo’s premier historic neighborhoods today.


Questions You’ll Have Answered as You Read:

  • Where is Parkside’s mass virtually unmarked grave?
  • How did a Parkside quest for riches turn to… naked women?!?
  • Why did the FBI have Parkside staked out for most of a decade?
  • You’ll also learn details on how America’s first jet plane was built in Parkside, and the scandal with Parkside roots that nearly brought down a Presidency.

135 historic photos, 172 pages.

Steve CichonABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Steve Cichon is an award winning journalist with WBEN Radio, where he’’s been a news reporter and anchor since 2003, having worked in Buffalo radio and television since 1993. Steve and his wife Monica became Parkside home owners on Valentines Day 2000, and quickly fell in love with the neighborhood. They continue to renovate and restore their 1909 EB Green designed American Four Square, and will likely continue to do so into perpetuity.

Books available for purchase NOW online… and at the following locations:

  • Talking Leaves Books (Main St. and Elmwood Ave. Locations)
  • The Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society Shop
  • The Darwin Martin House Gift Shop
  • WNY Barnes & Noble Stores
  • Borders WNY Locations
  • Buy online at the Buffalo Stories Bookstore

Steve is available to talk about Parkside History. Please email Steve for details.


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