“It was a different time, then, son”

By Steve Cichon

I stumbled on this patch on eBay… I had a knit winter hat with this patch on it, which Grandpa Cichon got working at Buffalo Raceway.

It seemed for a few years every Cichon was keeping his or her head warm with one of these orange and blue hats.

Gramps was good at finding stuff hanging around at work. I’m not exaggerating to say there must have been 20 of these hats around the family.

That was in addition to the stuff he used to bring home from National Aniline.

There was an endless supply of work gloves, flashlights, wooden-handled ball peen hammers, and blanket-lined denim work coats.

I’m sure some of these things were issued to him, but there’s little doubt he lifted some of this stuff, too.

It was before I was around, but his stories about being the night watchman at Paul’s Pies are legendary, too… coming home with the car filled with baked goods–mostly day old, I’m sure.

If Gramps was telling this story, he’d probably have ended it with, “But it was a different time then, son.”


I think this Seneca Mall Santa was ready to give me extra stuff because I had a connection at the track.

Buffalo in the ’40s: Before SolarCity, there was National Aniline and Republic Steel at RiverBend

By Steve Cichon

SolarCity is promising 1,500 jobs at its currently under construction South Buffalo location, which marks a big turnaround.

Buffalo News archive

For nearly three decades there seemed to be little hope for the vacant, decayed brownfield. The area now known as the RiverBend, where the Buffalo River meets South Park Avenue, was home to a steel plant and chemical factories, making the area highly contaminated. There weren’t resounding calls for remediation and reuse.

But the area was once home to thousands of good-paying jobs. Buffalo Color, the last part of a much-larger operation that was once National Aniline and Allied Chemical, closed in 2000. Across the river, Republic Steel closed and tore down its steel plant in the early 1980s.

This photo shows the build out of both National Aniline and Republic Steel in 1949. The single drawbridge at the top of the photo went over South Park Avenue.  As you can see in the Google Maps image below, most, if not all of the buildings pictured are now gone, but new buildings with new jobs are coming up in their place.