The late, great B-kwik Food Stores

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

BUFFALO, NY – In the 1950s, grocery shopping was done primarily at what we’d now consider small-to-medium-sized grocery stores like A&P, Park Edge, Mohican, Red & White– along with small neighborhood corner stores, many of which had been in operation for decades.

As the suburb helped create the supermarket to replace the smaller stores, many of the more successful smaller scale operators became players in the Buffalo supermarket business. The owners of Super Duper, Bells, and Tops all had years of grocery experience before opening the larger stores.   The same is true of Wegmans, which didn’t come to Buffalo until the late ’70s.

The only Buffalo name to last is Tops. Tops Friendly Markets grew into a Western New York institution by expanding through franchising, first with Tops Markets, then with B-kwik markets, then with Wilson Farms stores, bringing three different levels of grocery service to Western New York.

Tops had only been on the scene for 6 years early in 1969, when Niagara Frontier Services took out a full page ad in the Courier-Express, looking for new franchisees, and bragging about the new stores that had been built in the previous few months.
These are the photos of the Tops, B-kwik, and Hy-Top Pharmacy stores which were built in the second half of 1968, along with the brief franchising pitch.
bkwikdelavan
B-kwik Delavan Ave at Humber

B-kwik Main St, Delavan NY

B-kwik Delevan Ave
B-kwik Delavan Ave at Humber

 

bkwikensminger

B-kwik, Ensminger Rd, Tonawanda

bkwiksenecast

B-kwik, Seneca St. This store was on the corner of Kingston Street. It moved to the current Tops location several years later when B-kwik took over several area “Food Arena” stores.

bkwikwalden

B-kwik, Walden Avenue, Buffalo

bkwikwilliamst

B-kwik William St, Buffalo

hytopmainplace

Hy-Top Pharmacy, Main Place Mall

hytopmaplenforest

Hy-Top Pharmacy, Maple at North Forest

TopsChalmersAve

Tops, Chalmers Ave, Buffalo. Across the street from the Central Plaza

topsclintoncheektowaga

Tops, Clinton Street, Cheektowaga. Current site of Consumers’ Beverage

topslockport

Tops, Lockport-Olcott Rd. Currently Family Dollar, across the street from current Tops.

TopsMapleNorthForest

Tops, Maple at North Forest. Was VIX, now vacant.

topsmedina

Tops, Medina, NY

NFS nfsgrowing pitch
This post originally appeared at TrendingBuffalo.com

 

 

Worst. Sports Card. Ever.

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

BUFFALO, NY – They just look dumb. The 1970-71 Topps basketball cards look stupid for a few reasons.

DonMayThese cards are “tall boys,” which is good news if you’re talking about Old Milwaukee, but just looks dumb for a sports card. When Topps jumped back into basketball cards in 69-70, they decided that longer cards– to mirror the stretch physiques of basketball players– might make them more interesting.

Also, the outfits are weird. Legend says a clause in the players’ union contract said that players couldn’t profit from images of themselves wearing the team name or logo.

The solution is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen. Players wore their jerseys backwards. Or their shoot-around warmup gear (sometimes backwards.) Or they wore plain jerseys. Or they wore white t-shirts.

The team name does not appear on cards, either. Just Boston, no Celtics. Just Baltimore, no Bullets. Just Cincinnati, no Royals.

My interest in these very odd offerings is in the first basketball cards marked Buffalo (but not Braves.) 1970-71 was the year the NHL and the NBA expanded to include Buffalo, and that makes the cards only weirder for Buffalonians.

There is no Braves feel to any of these first Braves cards. The photos are not only of guys wearing backwards jerseys, they are all wearing the backwards jerseys of other teams.

Dick Garrett, coming off a rookie of the performance for the Lakers before being taken by the Braves in the expansion draft, is wearing a crisp white t-shirt.

Worst ever sports card. Nate Bowman 1970-71 Topps Basketball. He only has 1.5 armpits.
Worst ever sports card. Nate Bowman 1970-71 Topps Basketball. He only has 1.5 armpits.

But perhaps the worst sports card of all time has bothered and intrigued me since I bought it for 25¢ almost 30 years ago.

Nate Bowman played one season for the Buffalo Braves. He came here from the 69-70 champion Knicks, but you already knew that, because he’s wearing a backwards Knicks shirt.

While you’re looking at that shirt, look at the armpit on the right side of the card. It might be easier to be judgmental about terrible photo edits in this modern day where Photoshop flawlessly fixes anything, but holy freakin’ cow. Half of dude’s torso is missing.

It looks a lot like the guy who was editing the cards was working on this one right before lunch, and when he came back, he accidentally put it on the done pile.

How could someone only give a guy half an armpit and think that’s ok?

Worst. Sports Card. Ever…. among plenty of bad 1970-71 Buffalo (Braves) Topps cards.

This story originally appeared at TrendingBuffalo.com

The Barcalounger: Buffalo-made laziness & sloth

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

BUFFALO, NY – Maybe the same grandmother who always called the living room “the parlor” also referred generically to any recliner as a “Barcalounger.” The big comfy chair was originally built here in Buffalo, as a product of the Barcalo Manufacturing Company on Louisana Street.

During World War I, the company bragged that their forgings were battle tested (see below.) For years, they made tools, beds, and lounge chairs in the Old First Ward until the late 1960s when the company filed for bankruptcy.

The name lives on, on chairs produced elsewhere, but when– with the pull of a handle– a man can go from a seated position to a relaxing nap position, he can thank hard working men from the Ward for blazing a new trail in family room sloth.

barcalounger52
1952 Barcalounger ad
The Barcalo Manufacturing plant in 1918.
The Barcalo Manufacturing plant in 1918.
Buffalo-made Barcalounger, 1952
Buffalo-made Barcalounger, 1952
Encouraging children to use hammers.
Encouraging children to use hammers.

Encouraging abandoning your child in a Buffalo-made cage, 1910s.
Encouraging abandoning your child in a Buffalo-made cage, 1910s.

This post originally appeared at TrendingBuffalo.com.

Even Old Buffalo Looking New: Ch.4’s 1960’s Buffalove

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

BUFFALO, NY – My friend Libby wrote something the other day which made me think. She was talking about the cold and the gray and the snow, and how we don’t even realize how the darkness of it all creeps into our personality.

“Honestly do not even realize I am depressed, until the sun comes out and everything is sunshiny and I feel the depression lift!”

skyway
I read this amidst my going through my collection of old radio and TV trade magazines. In the late 50s and early 60s, these magazines were filled with ads from local radio and TV stations looking to appeal to national advertisers. They talk about how great the station is, but also how wonderful the city and it’s people are– a great place to sell your stuff.

There are plenty of great ads from Buffalo stations. It’s like a Buffalo version of the wacky creative efforts you might see from the guys on Mad Men.

WBENTVbuildings

I’ve used these old magazines as a resource for years. Decades even. This time, however, the feeling was different, and Libby’s exaltation helped me put my finger on what made some of these ads better than they were the last time I looked.

These ads look better and more interesting, because there is hope and brightness in Buffalo like we haven’t seen here since the late 50s.

These ads, from 1958 and 1964, show WBEN-TV’s excitement for Buffalo and what is to come, and are meant to showcase the “just-over-the-horizon New Buffalo” that was on it’s way.

These ads feel fresh and great, because while there was a 60 year lag, that New Buffalo really is just around the corner this time.

WBENTVgrainelevators

When we were filled with gloom and darkness about our city, we would look and read these, and point to the empty, rotting grain elevators as a vestige of a vanished industry.

We’d look closely on the Skyway image, and see the beams marked with the logo of Bethlehem Steel. It was a bridge built to get 15,000 men from the city to their jobs in a plant that’s been cold for 30 years.

We imagine what Buffalo would have looked like if we didn’t build highways and downtown office buildings for 2 million expected Western New Yorkers, and we lament the buildings that were lost because too much of downtown was torn down too quickly for the wrong reasons.

But now, with the sun out here for the first time in generations, we look at these images and see progress and what’s to come. We now recreate under the Skyway, with promise of more to come. Grain elevators and malt houses are becoming the avant-garde, up-and-coming spaces that the next generation of Buffalonians realize are incredibly unique to us alone, as moves are made to re-imagine and re-purpose what makes us unique.

WBENTVskyway

And with cranes and scaffolds up in dozens of places around the city, the thought of “new building” isn’t necessarily followed by “oh no.”

As the sun shines, and us Buffalonians feel the depression about our city lift, we’re beginning to figure out how to make our dynamic past, part of our dynamic future.

And we’re getting excited about seeing how the same ol’stuff starts to look different with some sunshine on it, warming the face and the soul.

Photos from Buffalo’s Jimmy Griffin years

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

He remains one of the most popular figures in Buffalo’s history. He was also one of the most vilified.

Jimmy Griffin was Mayor of Buffalo from 1978-1993. No one has ever held the post longer, and it’s a pretty good bet that no one ever had more fun doing the job. He got things done. Like Pilot Field. And the waterfront. And the Theatre District. And getting people to stay home and enjoy a six pack instead of heading out into the Blizzard of ’85.

Look at the smile on this guy’s face in nearly every photo, and tell me he’s not having a good time.

Mayor Griffin with Burt Reynolds, when he was in town shooting "Best Friends."
Mayor Griffin with Burt Reynolds, when he was in town shooting “Best Friends.”
Mayor Griffin had a car phone in the 80s. When they were REALLY cool.
Mayor Griffin had a car phone in the 80s. When they were REALLY cool.
Reeling in a Lake Erie mermaid with lawmaker Mary Lou Rath.
Reeling in a Lake Erie mermaid with lawmaker Mary Lou Rath.
Hizzoner was a natural behind the controls of a front loader.
Hizzoner was a natural behind the controls of a front loader.
He was also a natural on an elephant, leading the circus parade into the Aud.
He was also a natural on an elephant, leading the circus parade into the Aud.
With Seymour Knox on the Aud ice…
With Seymour Knox on the Aud ice…
Jim Griffin: Buffalo’s original Irish dancer? with Mercy sisters wearing Talking Proud buttons, dancers, and County Executive Ed Rutkowski
Jim Griffin: Buffalo’s original Irish dancer? with Mercy sisters wearing Talking Proud buttons, dancers, and County Executive Ed Rutkowski
Jim Griffin’s leadership spawned waterfront construction…
Jim Griffin’s leadership spawned waterfront construction…
Two rockstar Jims of 80s Buffalo… Jim Kelly and Jim Griffin
Two rockstar Jims of 80s Buffalo… Jim Kelly and Jim Griffin
The ol’Rockpile… Griffin’s tenacity and will pushed though the building of Pilot Field…
The ol’Rockpile… Griffin’s tenacity and will pushed though the building of Pilot Field…
County Executive Ed Rutkowski, The Mayor, and Danny Neaverth on the streets of South Buffalo…
County Executive Ed Rutkowski, The Mayor, and Danny Neaverth on the streets of South Buffalo…
A true man of the people and a one-time gin mill owner, Mayor Griffin poured a fine beer…
A true man of the people and a one-time gin mill owner, Mayor Griffin poured a fine beer…

These photos are among the roughly 200 photos which come from a new book about Buffalo’s beloved mayor.

A Buffalo Scrapbook: Gimme Jimmy! The James D. Griffin Story in his own Words and Photos, by Steve Cichon, will be in stores next week, or you can order a copy now at www.mayorgriffin.com  and have it delivered to your home by next week.

This page originally appeared at TrendingBuffalo.com

A man ahead of his time

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

13427954_10209523827394107_7932250703412461951_nJack Tapson passed away last weekend.

He was a photographer, who like me shared a love of Buffalo Broadcasting, worked in the field for a few decades, and knew– as it was unfolding– that he was watching something important unfolding in front of him daily.

He started at Channel 4  as a lover of photography and teen technician in the 1940s and moved onto Channel 2 where he started the news film department in the mid-1950s.

For decades, these jobs put him on the front lines of some of the really amazing things that were happening in what was then America’s 15th largest city. Behind the scenes at Buffalo’s big TV stations as well.

Through the years, he sent me dozens of photographs along with some sort of brief description of the shot. As is usually the case, many of the photos are amazing not only for the intended subject, but the background and surrounding scenery, too.

His access to free or low-cost film and developing at work, and the consistency with which he carried his still camera through various jobs he was working, give us a bit of a glimpse of what it might have been like to follow a television reporter or videojournalist on Facebook or Twitter 60 years ago. Just like someone whipping out their cellphone for a quick pic while doing their actual job, many of Jack’s photos were taken while shooting moving pictures for WGR-TV.

Importantly, he not only took these shots, he saved them all these years. Even more importantly, he then shared them, mostly with fellow historian Marty Biniasz and me.

Here are a couple of shots, with Jack’s notes and then some further explanation.

Ernie_Warlick_Jim_Castigleone__Bob_Lanier

“Here’s a classic!!! Ernie wore a size 19 shoe, Jimmie a size 6 1/2 and Bob Lanier a size 24.”

Shown: Channel 2 Sportsman & Former Buffalo Bill Ernie Warlick; Channel 2 floorman Jim Castiglione; Bennett High School & St. Bonaventure basketball star (and future NBA Hall of Famer) Bob Lanier. Late 60s.

pulaskie_day_parade_redo-Bobby-Kennedy
Senator Robert F. Kennedy, Pulaski Day, Broadway, 1964

“I received a thank you note from Kennedy after fulfilling his request to send this photo and others….similar.”

Shown: Robert Kennedy’s campaign car takes him through Buffalo’s East Side and up Broadway, 1964

Kowal__Harry_Truman_color“I shot silent footage at his arrival and departure at the Bflo. airport and S.O.F. at Canisus College.”

Shown: Buffalo Mayor Chet Kowal shaking hands with Former President Harry Truman on his way to a Canisius College speaking engagement, 1962. (S.O.F. is “sound on film,” silent film was far less expensive, so sound was only shot for news purposes when necessary.)

Details of Buffalo history aren’t all that I learned from Jack.

Jack and I had a falling out. He was insistent on something that didn’t fully make sense to me. I reasonably refuted a tad, he got passionately angry. I passive-aggressively pushed back again.

If you read through the emails, I think anyone would agree he was acting like a jerk. What I didn’t know though, was that he was really sick. Had I known, I probably would have cut the passive aggressive sort of crap. I did my best to try to make amends with him. I said all the right things, and really meant all that I said. It was too late though, as illness had taken a good grip on poor ol’Jack.

Now we weren’t close friends, I’m not even sure that we actually met in person, but knowing that I didn’t do all that I could have to aid a brother in trouble, leaves me greatly troubled. Just because he was outwardly acting like a jerk, didn’t give me permission to be jerky–less jerky, but still jerky– back.  He was sick, that was his excuse. I don’t have an excuse. Without the details, I posted about it on Facebook.

JackTapsonUpdate

As my friend Libby commented on Facebook, “That is real wisdom. (Wisdom is sometimes accompanied by an uneasy feeling.) (It never seemed that way for Andy Taylor or Cliff Huxtable, but I have found it so in real life.)”

So thanks, Jack for capturing so many fleeting Buffalo memories on film. And thanks for bearing with me while I learned a tough lesson in humility and compassion which will serve me, and the people around me, well into the future.

This page originally appeared at TrendingBuffalo.com

Buffalo in the 80’s: 400 photos of pre-MetroRail Buffalo

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

BUFFALO, NY  – At the time when these photos were taken, Buffalo needed the song “Talking Proud” to remind us to talk proudly about our city because everything seemed to be spiraling out of control.

Area industry was hemorrhaging the good paying blue collar jobs that were the back bone of “who Buffalo was;” so many plants were being left idle.

The city itself had seen better days, too. A once proud downtown was looking sad but hopeful for what the MetroRail might bring. Neighborhoods were slowly being abandoned… or worse, quickly being abandoned.

Bad things were happening all over, and even the calm, cool, and collected types were running out of fingers to plug the holes in the dyke.

That’s the scene in the Buffalo of these photos. Late 70s through the 80s. It wasn’t cool or hip or trendy or interesting to love this place for what it was. Many people focused their love on a single building, like Shea’s or the Darwin Martin House. Many people focused on their love of the people of this city.

But as a whole, the Buffalo that we loved was disappearing. The capital of glitz and glamour, the big city between Chicago and New York, the true Queen City of the Lakes was gone. It was hard to love the remnants of those days gone by, the city we have today. It took us some time to appreciate what we had and have, and we’re there now.

When someone makes a crack about snow or chicken wings, we’re ready to tell them what’s truly great about our city. We talk about our great history, and how we’re moulding that into our promising future.

But as you look at these photos, I hope you don’t simply curse the mistakes that were made. Many of these neat and interesting places no longer exist. But many were taken down in the hopes of replacing the old with something to be proud of tomorrow. No one knew how to do it. Boston made mistakes. Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Chicago. Each made choices now lamented about city planning, or lack of it.

Looking through these, quite a few times I said, “Damn.” Sometimes as in, damn, I wish that building was still here. But also, damn as in, look at how much better Chippewa looks. Damn, I’m glad there are no more porn shops on Main Street.

It’s a mixed bag for sure, but it is a mixed bag. If you through these photos, and see nothing but negative, you might be part of the problem with Buffalo today. You can’t change the past, and you can’t blame people who were trying, for the most part, to make our city a better place.

An early 80s billboard near City Hall asked the last person leaving Buffalo to turn out the light. Luckily, despite umpteen decisions that we wish we had back, it looks like that light will shine brightly for quite a while now.

About these photos:

A tremendous Buffalonian with a great eye for history rescued these amazing photos from certain peril. Yes, Derik Kane garbage picked them, scanned them, and put them up on Facebook.

The photos are popping up piecemeal all over Facebook, but I thought it was important to put them in a single, public place together on the web, so that they could be viewed as a single collection, and Derik was kind enough to oblige.

Personally, this is the earliest Buffalo I remember. Taking the Seneca bus downtown to Main Street with my mom or one of my grandmothers just before the MetroRail went in.

I’d like to gather as much info on these photos as possible. If you have any information or stories about any of the buildings, or neighborhoods, or times spent, or even the great array of vehicles, please note the number of the photo(s) and drop me an e-mail and we’ll update the page.

It’d also be great if anyone thinks to grab a “now” photo from a similar vantage point of any of these photos… Especially places that look drastically different.

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

Buffalo in the 50’s: Downtown, Black Rock First Ward, and The Fruit Belt in Color

Buffalo, NY – Here are dozens of beautiful photos showing downtown, areas along the Black Rock Canal that have been replaced with the 190, and photos of the Fruit Belt neighborhood devastated by the building of the 33 Expressway, great old downtown flicks, a few from the First Ward, and even some shots from “out in the country.”

These photos are mostly from 1957 & 1958.

Becky Harbison had a car trunk full of old slides rescued from the home of a relative, who obviously had a great love for some of the more interesting scenes around Buffalo in the late 50s.

Read more about William Harbison (and see a few more GREAT slide) here. We scanned in the slides, and here they are… Along with a few other slides I had laying around.

Church & Franklin
Church & Franklin
Cherry & Goodell
Cherry & Goodell
20a near Orchard Park
20a near Orchard Park
Thruway toll booths
Parkside-Zoo streetcar, Erie overpass
Downtown
Downtown
Lafayette Square, Kleinhans
Lafayette Square, Kleinhans
West Side Rowing Club
Washington at Virginia
Tug Oklahoma, Irving L Clymer. Black Rock Canal, 1957
South Wales Depot
Sewer Authority
Sacred Heart Academy Washington Street
Rt 16 in Holland
219– road to Bradford
Public School 15 from Ellicott Square Bulding
Ash & Genesee, Police Precinct 4
Old Police Barns
Ohio St, Louisiana St, St Clair St, First Ward
Niagara Section (I-190) anf Massachusetts Pumping Station
Michigan & South Park
Michigan & Scott
Michigan & Genesee
Massachusetts Ave Pumping Station
Goodell & Washington
Goodell & Washington
Goodell & Demond Alley Lux Funeral Home
Goode3ll & Demond Alley
Franklin & Court
Forest Lawn/Mt St Joseph Academy
Forest Lawn Millard Fillmore grave
Forest Lawn
Foot of Erie Street
Ferry Street from Gull Street
Foot of Ferry Street
Ferry St Bridge
Ferry St Bridge
Ferry St Bridge
Ferry St Bridge
Ferry St Bridge
Ferry St Bridge from Bird Island
Ferry St Bridge from Bird Island
Ferry St Bridge
Ferry St Bridge
Ferry Street and Rowing Club from Canada
Niagara St & Ferry St
Niagara St & Ferry St
Niagara St & Ferry St
Niagara St & Ferry St
Niagara St & Ferry St
Niagara St & Ferry St
Fairmont Creamery
Fairmont Creamery
Edmund P Smith
Edmund P Smith
Edmund P Smith
Edmund P Smith
Delaware & Huron
Delaware & Huron
County Hall, Delaware Ave Side
County Hall, Delaware Ave Side
Cotters Grill, First Ward
Cotters Grill, First Ward
Cotters Grill, First Ward
Cotters Grill, First Ward
Coal Dock from canal terminal
Coal Dock from canal terminal
Church & Franklin NFT Bus
Church & Franklin NFT Bus
Central Book Store
Central Book Store
Barge Robert M Trotter and tug at Black Rock
Barge Robert M Trotter and tug at Black Rock
SS Irvin L Clymer at Black Rock
SS Irvin L Clymer at Black Rock
Pioneer at Black Rock
Pioneer at Black Rock
Niagara Mohawk at Black Rock
Lydon at Black Rock
Lydon at Black Rock
HL Gobeille at Black Rock
HL Gobeille at Black Rock
Freighter at Black Rock
Freighter at Black Rock
Black Rock Canal at Ferry Street
Black Rock Canal at Ferry Street
Black Rock shoreline tug boat
Black Rock shoreline tug boat
Ball Brothers, Black Rock Canal
Ball Brothers, Black Rock Canal
Black Rock Canal
Black Rock Canal, Meyer Malt
Bird Ave at Soldiers Pl
Bird Ave at Soldiers Pl, Frank Lloyd Wright Heath House
Allegheny State Park
Allegheny State Park
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

Buffalo Morning Radio around the dial in 1989

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Don Postles... NewsCenter 2.It was a NewsCenter 2 sweeps week special series… Don Postles visited with the most popular radio personalities. It opened with an explanation of how Buffalo’s morning radio choices had just been radically changed when two former KB Staffers– Sandy Beach and Danny Neaverth– found new homes along the dial.

In wonderfully cheesy 80s TV style, this was graphically represented by two heads moving along an analog radio dial.

Sandy had left KB only a few years ago, and stopped at Hot 104 WNYS before heading to Majic 102 WMJQ.

When KB went satellite, Danny went to WHTT after Sandy left. Snortin Norton and 97 Rock had also recently returned after an absence of a few years.

All the moves help to make Bill Lacy and WBEN number one in Morning Drive. NewsCenter 2’s Don Postles met with each of these jocks… Plus WPHD’s team of Taylor & Moore.

All told, the 5 part series is a nice snapshot of Buffalo Radio in 1989.

 

WBEN: 75 years of photos

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

UPDATED: February 21, 2005

Thanks to all those who have sent in pictures…
The latest submissions are at the top. We still need YOUR pictures!
Do you have a photo or two? E-mail it to me… or get me the picture
and I’ll scan it and get the original back to you… and I’ll post it here to share with everyone!

Thanks to those who’ve shared their photos so far:
Tom Langmyer, Tony Caligiuri, Candy Acierno, Tim Wenger, Pete Weber, Tom Kelly

 

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