Going for more than sausage at the Broadway Market

       By Steve Cichon
       steve@buffalostories.com
       @stevebuffalo

In the late 1880s, there were a few good years of political wrangling over which wealthy landowner was going to get to sell property to the city to build a market for the growing number of Polish immigrants in what was then the eastern stretches of the city.

postcard, Broadway Market, c.1900

Walden Avenue was an early favorite, but Broadway won out, and in 1888, Buffalo’s “Polish colony” of about 3,500 had a market of their own to match the worship space of their own at the recently built St. Stanislaus Church.

Sophie Frances Nowik remembered the earliest days at the market.

“It was not unusual to see housewives carrying bulging shopping bags made of leather or awning material, with a head of an alert fowl projecting above its top. Occasionally the birds would peck at anyone within reach of their beaks.

“Amid the loud cries of vendors and the whine of blind men with their pencils and wheezy accordions, the housewives stop their baby carriages, sometimes filled with babies, sometimes with vegetables, more often with both, and have their morning chats.”

The original market had a long, skinny building in the middle, but most vendors were outside. That changed when the current market building and parking ramp were built in the mid-1950s.

By 1969, the market was millions in debt with most vendors in arrears in rent for their stalls. Redlinski Meats President Paul Redlinski became president of the market association, and took up the responsibility of collecting the $600,000 in rents each year.

The Redlinski Brothers, Broadway Market, 1983

A decade later, the market seemed to be on firm ground, with 900,000 people visiting the Broadway Market each year. That included what Polish Union President Daniel Kij called the “closet ethnics.”

He told Marilyn Darch in a 1979 Buffalo Spree article that what he meant was the people — not necessarily Polish — who came to the market at Christmas and Easter time for the spectacle of it. Forty years later, these “closet ethnics” make or break a vendor’s year with their annual visits.

To live even part of Darch’s description of the Broadway Market on a weekday 40 years ago, one has to visit during Holy Week or around Christmas.

Broadway Market entrance, 1970s

She says the bland, uninspiring exterior “frames a bevy of activity that assaults, engages, and titillates the senses. The first thing one notices is the sound: the low hum of marketplace banter, the roar of the butchers’ saws, the plop of food onto scales. The cash registers ring out crisp and clear, like cymbals in a marketplace symphony.

“Around the periphery of the building are twenty meat stands where one can purchase not only freshly made Polish sausage, but other ethnic specialties as well. These appreciative eyes noticed fat links of sausage coiled like cobras poised to strike, pale pink ground sausage, speckled white sausage.”

Redlinski Meats, she reported, sold more than 300,000 pounds of sausage the previous year at the family stall.

The sounds of the Polish language being spoken by women with their heads wrapped in babushkas still filled the Broadway Market 40 years ago, and those women were the mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers of those who’ll visit there this Easter weekend.

The Broadway Market is a different place today, but we visit because there is something of that essence that is still there as we watch the butcher uncoil the sausage and the horseradish jars being filled right before our eyes, and we hear people who don’t know more than ten words of Polish wish each other “Wesołego Alleluja” — Happy Easter in Polish — because it seems to be the right thing to do.

Buffalo’s last city-owned Polish-language sign

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

I take a photo of this great bilingual sign every time I walk by it in the Broadway Market parking ramp for fear that it will disappear.

Is it the last still-used city-owned sign in Polish? It’s the only one I know of… and it’s a treasure.

“Tony Krew” and his accordion provide the soundtrack Broadway Market

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Listen:

His smiling face and happy accordion are one of the great welcoming sights of the Easter Season at the Broadway Market.

Steve Cichon and Tony Krupski at the Broadway Market during the 2018 Easter season.

And with his Easter season appearances in newspaper and social media photos and all over television newscasts, Tony Krupski has really become the face of the Broadway Market.

“Many people tell me that, yes,” said Krupski last week at the market.

Krupski has been playing accordion for 60 years, famously for his family’s band, The Krew Brothers Orchestra and for Full Circle. Playing at the market is really source of pride.

“I don’t take it for granted. I’ve been playing all my life. But the Broadway Market– it rejuvenates the entire year. I’m happy to be a part of it,” says Krupski.

So now as his playing creates new memories and a connection to the past at the Broadway Market, he’s reminded of his own memories of the place.

Tony Krupski entertains holiday shoppers at the Broadway Market with his smile and accordion.(Buffalo Stories/Steve Cichon photo)

“I remember coming here to the Broadway Market as a youngster,” says Krupski. “My parents would bring me here and we’d shop in the market. In the back, the hucksters selling fruits, vegetables and chickens. It just brings back a lot of memories, and here I am, years later, enjoying and playing here.”

Tony honored me with a command performance of my favorite Krew Brothers’ song, The Buffalo Polka.

Polish Buffalo in the 1930s: Gramps on Easter & Dyngus Day

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Long before Dyngus Day was the celebration of Buffalo culture it has become over the last decade, it was, as most know, a day of celebration and fast breaking in the Polish community.

My grandfather, Edward Cichon, was the seventh of ten kids born to Polish immigrants who lived in Buffalo’s Valley neighborhood (nestled between South Buffalo, The First Ward, and The Hydraulics.)

Grandma & Grandpa Cichon. Edward V. Cichon and Marie T. Scurr-Cichon.

His memories of Easter and Dyngus Day went back more than 70 years when I interviewed him for a news story back in 2006. He’s giving us a first-hand account of Dyngus Day in Buffalo in the ’20s & ’30s.

Born in 1926, Gramps grew up on Fulton Street near Smith on a street that was, at that time, half Irish and half Polish. Most of the men on the street, including my great-grandfather and eventually Gramps himself, worked at the National Aniline chemical plant down the street.

On Dyngus Day, he’d go behind his house along the tracks of the Erie Railroad—the 190 runs there now—and grab some pussy willows to take part in the Dyngus Day tradition of swatting at girls on their heels, who’d in turn throw water at the boys.

For Easter, Babcia would cook all the Polish delicacies like golabki, pierogi, and kielbasi.

The sausage, Gramps explained, was all homemade. “Pa” (as gramps always called his father) would get two pigs, and they’d smoke them right in the backyard on Fulton Street. The whole family would work on making sausage at the big kitchen table, and then hang the kielbasa out back—but they’d also butcher hams and other cuts of meat as well.

While he was in the frame of mind, I asked him about the Broadway Market, too. In the late ‘20s, His mother would wheel him the two miles over to the market in a wagon, and park him next to the horses while she shopped for food and across the street at Sattler’s.

Reading these stories is great, but listening to Gramps tell them is the best.

Presidential hopefuls who visited Buffalo, ended up in footnotes of history

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

In 1900, William Jennings Bryan leaves his train to “thousands of howling, hurrahing men—insane with enthusiasm, some said they were—to make those who saw the whole believe that never had Buffalo such a grand demonstration for a political candidate.” (Buffalo Stories archives)

William Jennings Bryan speaks at the Broadway Market, 1900. (Buffalo Stories archives)

As soon as this evening, one of the two candidates for president will be written into the headlines of history — and the other will be written into the footnotes. On this Election Day, we take a look at some of the candidates who have come this close to the White House through the years, and the time they’ve spent here in Western New York.

1900: William Jennings Bryan

As he campaigned against President William McKinley, Congressman (and later Secretary of State) William Jennings Bryan filled the streets of Buffalo’s East Side as thousands jammed into the Broadway Market and surrounding streets to hear Jennings speak.

Buffalo Courier, 1900. (Buffalo Stories archives)

“On the East Side it seemed as if the whole populace had turned out to shout and cheer for Mr. Bryan,” wrote the Courier. It was estimated that 25,000 heard him at the Broadway Market, and another 8,000 heard an address at a convention hall. Another 40,000 lined the route between the two places.

—–

1936: Alfred Landon

Kansas’ governor came to Buffalo in his bid to unseat Franklin D. Roosevelt after Roosevelt’s first term in office.

Alfred Landon waves his hat to Buffalonians lined up in Shelton Square and along Main Street in August, 1936. Today, this spot has One M&T Plaza to the left, and the Main Place Tower and Mall to the right. (Buffalo Stories archives)

Landon rally at Offermann Stadium. The ballpark was one block east of Main Street at Michigan Avenue. The spot is now occupied by Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts. (Buffalo Stories archives)

After parading through the streets, Landon stopped at the Statler Hotel for a tea put on by Buffalo’s Republican women. That night, Landon held a rally under the lights at Offermann Stadium, which was the home of the Bisons from 1924 to 1960.
—–
1952: Adlai Stevenson II

Stevenson was the man who took on Gen. Dwight Eisenhower for the Oval Office being vacated by Harry Truman in 1952. He then ran against the incumbent President Eisenhower in 1956.

Named after his grandfather — who was vice president during Grover Cleveland’s second term — Stevenson was governor of Illinois and was later named ambassador to the United Nations by President Kennedy.

Adlai Stevenson signs a campaign poster from the back of his train in Niagara Falls. Stevenson spoke to about 1,000 people just outside Niagara Falls New York Central Station.

—–
1964: Barry Goldwater

The Arizona senator joined his running mate, William E. Miller, in the congressman’s hometown of Lockport for a September 1964 campaign stop.

05-sep-1964-goldwater
Buffalo Stories archives

It was declared “Bill Miller Day” in Lockport in honor of the candidate for the vice presidency.  The crowds were compared favorably to four years earlier, when John F. Kennedy — then a senator and candidate for president — barnstormed through Niagara County, including a speech in Lockport.

One difference — despite the crowd’s being made up of people who knew, loved and were proud of their neighbor and his accomplishments — as many as 100 Niagara County sheriff’s deputies were there to keep order and protect the candidates. The stop was only 10 months removed from the assassination of President Kennedy.

—–

1968: Hubert Humphrey

Vice President Humphrey picked up the mantel of the Democratic Party following President Johnson’s announcement that he wouldn’t run for re-election, and then the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.

Humphrey visited Buffalo many times during his time in the senate and during his time as vice president.

Hubert Humphrey speaks with anti-Vietnam War protesters, standing on Delaware Avenue, just off Niagara Square in front of the Statler Hotel in September, 1968. (Buffalo Stories archives)

 

What it looked like Wednesday: Easter ’83 at The Broadway Market

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

This week, The Broadway Market kicks off its busiest time of the year — the days leading up to Easter.

For generations, the market was the epicenter of Buffalo’s Polish community.

A fixture in the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood for more than 125 years, the market’s heyday was likely in the 1950s – when every Friday and Saturday people from the neighborhood stuffed into the newly renovated structure in the same way we see now only during Holy Week.

William Roesch, The Albrechts, Broadway Market

The glory years were certainly waning by 1983, but the market had much of the same character and charm as it did in the earlier years. Dozens of second- and third-generation family businesses filled the stalls once run by their fathers and grandfathers.

This piece takes a look back at some of those families and how the market had changed through the years up until that point. Many who still remember the old daily hustle and bustle of the market miss it terribly – the next two weeks is an opportunity to relive a part of what it was like, and perhaps conjure some idea of what the future of the beleaguered landmark might be.

The photos and text here were featured in “The Magazine,” The News’ Sunday insert in 1983. The paper is from the Buffalo Stories collection.

The Redlinskis Broadway Market

The Wojciechowiczez, The Bordeaus, Broadway Market

 

Buffalo in the ’80s: Smell of pierogi at Broadway Market

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Can you still get homemade duck soup at the Broadway Market?  This story could have been written this week:

April 21, 1984: Smell of pierogi, road of crowd greet market Easter shoppers

“Under a heavy aroma of pierogi, 99 varieties of cheese and all manner of fish, the shoppers maintained a dull roar all afternoon. The aisles were flush with people of all ages, housewives pushing baby strollers, stockboys struggling with mobile racks laden with the kind of breads and cakes that could be bought nowhere else.”