In 1976, President Gerald Ford attends Mass at St. Stan’s

       By Steve Cichon
       steve@buffalostories.com
       @stevebuffalo

It was the Sunday before Election Day in 1976 – only a matter of hours before millions across the country would cast their vote for president. One of the two men whose name was on the ballot, President Gerald R. Ford, spent an hour or so in the first pew at St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr Church for 9 a.m. Mass.

President Gerald Ford waves to the crowd in front of the Statler Hilton Hotel.

The president was welcomed by children in traditional Polish garb on the steps of St. Stan’s, as Monsignor Chester Meloch welcomed him to the East Side landmark with the traditional gifts of bread and salt.

“President Ford gives recognition to the contributions of Polish and other immigrants to the goals of our country,” Meloch said, “and at the same time, the president acknowledges that Poland as well as other countries under foreign dictatorial domination have a God‐given right to freedom, self‐determination and self‐rule.”

President Ford on the steps of St. Stan’s Church.

A cold rain fell outside the church that day, but President Ford’s spirits were buoyed by the fact that he had battled from 30 points down in the polls to a virtual dead heat with Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter in the race for the White House.

President Ford speaks at the Statler, with Erie County Executive Ned Regan and Congressman Jack Kemp looking on.

In an address at the Statler Hilton Hotel, Ford invited his supporters to Washington in January for the inauguration. Ford would be there, but only to hand power over to Jimmy Carter.

President Gerald Ford shakes hands with the doorman in front of the Statler Hilton Hotel. Seen across the street are the Erlanger Theater and the Statler parking garage, neither of which still stands.

This film of President Ford’s visit was transferred from 16 mm film and digitized as a part of the Buffalo Stories Film Conservation Initiative.

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Steve Cichon

Steve Cichon writes about Buffalo’s pop culture history. His stories of Buffalo's past have appeared more than 1600 times in The Buffalo News. He's a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. Since the earliest days of the internet, Cichon's been creating content celebrating the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo unique and special. The 25-year veteran of Buffalo radio and television has written five books and curates The Buffalo Stories Archives-- hundreds of thousands of books, images, and audio/visual media which tell the stories of who we are in Western New York.