Bennett’s snack time hangouts of the 50s & 60s

By Steve Cichon

It’s a bit of Happy Days in North Buffalo.

A defining feature of any high school experience is what you ate and how you ate it. But during the post-war and baby boomer years, the students at Bennett High School, Main & Hertel in Buffalo, not only enjoyed eating– but also seemed to do a pretty decent job of chronicling lunch time and snack time.

Boys drink milk from Kart’s Dairy, across Main Street from Bennett High School, in the Bennett cafeteria in the 1956-57 school year. (Buffalo Stories archives)

Looking through newspapers and yearbooks and a pile of other resources, here are some great photos showing what teenage-life was like for the students of North Buffalo, University Heights, Central Park, Parkside and other neighborhoods in the north-central part of the city.

Some of the locations are obvious, but some of the them aren’t labelled. If you have any idea which soda fountains, coffee shops, or pizza places are represented in these photos– from Hertel, to University Heights, to The Central Park Plaza– please drop me an email at

Van Slyke Pharmacy and Luncheonette, Hertel Avenue corner of Parkside Avenue. (Buffalo Stories archives)
Bennett students Judy Silverstein, Lynda Sturner, Bonnie Sandler and Sunny Weinstein at an unnamed soda fountain, 1957. Possibly Bargar and Wright’s pharmacy at Hertel and Colvin?  What do you think? Any idea where this photo was taken? Email (Buffalo Stories archives)
Bennett boys eating pizza, 1957. Do you know where? Drop me an email, (Buffalo Stories archives)
Larry Nadel, Judy Rovall, Susie Silverman, Alan Carrel, Jane Stiller and Irwin Falk eating hamburgers and sodas,at The Salad Bowl Restaurant– in what was then The Delaware Shopping Plaza, later the Great Arrow Shopping Plaza, and today, Marshall’s Plaza.  (Buffalo Stories archives)
Bennett girls doing homework, talking on the phone, and drinking Queen-O, 1959. (Buffalo Stories archives)
Girls eating pizza in front of the jukebox, 1959. Any idea which pizza joint? Drop me an email, (Buffalo Stories archives)
Coffee, water, and a jukebox remote. 1957. Louis Trachtman writes: “These guys are (left to right) Richard Kulick (now deceased); Gordon Cohen (now deceased), Elbert Siegel and Murray Munshen.  I feel certain this photo was taken at the Salad Bowl on Delaware Avenue, which was a popular “hangout” for teen agers from North Buffalo.  We all graduated from Bennett High School together, class of 1957. ”  That sounds definitive to me– but earlier, two folks thought it might be Clarence’s Diner. Clarence would give the kids food for helping keep the place clean, and would even let kids fry their own french fries. Clarence’s Diner was in a typical storefront building at Hertel and Starin, where Deep South Taco now stands. (Buffalo Stories archives)




Mister S Hamburgers. Now the site of the LaSalle Metro Station, just north of Hertel, before the viaduct was removed. 1967. (Buffalo Stories archives)

What it Looked Like Wednesday: WNY’s unique pop brands, 1959

By Steve Cichon

In 1959, the Niagara Frontier Bottling Association took out an ad to remind Western New York’s children to bug their parents about returning soft drink bottles promptly.

The Niagara Frontier Bottling Association had 21 members, including the giant names of Coca-Cola, Pepsi and 7-Up, but also much smaller local operations like Visniak, Queen-O and Oscar’s. Just as breweries offered home delivery for committed patrons, many pop bottlers would also drop off soda by the case at your doorstep.

“Ask mother to let you return them and collect the cash deposits,” says the caption next to the happy boy and girl pulling a wagon filled with pop-bottle gold.

Luckily for us nearly 60 years later, not everyone heeded that “bring the bottle back” advice – and many of the classic bottles from long-gone pop makers are still kicking around.

Len Mattie and his wife, Nancy Abramo, run the Parkside Meadow Restaurant. Throughout the classic neighborhood corner tavern, Mattie has displayed what is possibly Western New York’s largest public collection of local pop bottles – among them most of the brand names mentioned in the ad.

Here are some of those bottles as displayed inside the Parkside Meadow:

Ma’s was one of several pops bottled by the New York Beverage Company on Katherine Street in the First Ward.


Kist was bottled by Goddard/Kist in Buffalo. Black Rock Pop was bottled by Black Rock Beverages on Hertel Avenue. Visniak was bottled by Saturn-Visniak Bottling on Fillmore Avenue.


From left: Wethy’s was bottled by Queen City Pure Water; Sea Beverages is from Buffalo; Hi-Hat Beverage was at 416 Chicago St.; Hi Grade Beverage was on Fougron Street on the East Side; Young-O Beverages was based in a garage on Hickory Street; Coleman’s Beverage was on Rhode Island Street on the West Side; Sunny Kid Beverages were bottled by Broad-Smith, 528 Genesee St.


From left: Mission Beverages was located at 127 Kehr St.; Dr. Swett’s was based in Boston, Mass.; Sol Lenzner’s Queen-O was produced at 636 Genesee St.; King Orange Soda was bottled locally by Fillmore Bottling Company.


The Smith & Clody and Vartray ginger beer stoneware bottles date from the turn of the century.


Wulf’s Beverages was based in North Tonawanda. The Fillmore Bottling Works was at 581 Fillmore Ave.