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

       By Steve Cichon

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.

Buffalo Bob Smith sings about Bells Markets

       By Steve Cichon

Typically, when Buffalo Bob Smith enthusiastically shouted the question, “Say kids, what time is it?” the answer enthusiastically shouted back was, “It’s Howdy Doody Time!”

That wasn’t the case in this series of Bells Markets TV ads from the early 1970s.

“It’s Bells Supermarket Time,” the peanut gallery shouted from the vegetable aisle at Bells.

Robert Schmidt was born in Buffalo and attended Fosdick-Masten Park High School (now City Honors School), and began a radio career on WGR and then WBEN with lifelong friend and early on-air partner Clint Buehlman.

Clint Buehlman and Buffalo Bob.

As Bob Smith, he moved to New York City radio in 1947, and when he started hosting a children’s television show shortly thereafter – adding the nod to his hometown to his stage name, becoming Buffalo Bob Smith.

The video shows three 30-second commercials which aired on Buffalo television in the early 1970s.

They were transferred from 16 mm film as a part of the Buffalo Stories Film Conservation Initiative.

The Buffalo Stories Film Conservation Initiative

By Steve Cichon

I hope you’ll join me in saving a big chunk of Buffalo’s history.

Thousands of hours of Buffalo’s history as recorded from the 1960s through the 1990s was on its way to a landfill.

But in July, 2018, Buffalo Stories LLC saved this collection from the curb, taking possession of about 3,500 video tapes and reels of 16mm film.

We’re still sorting through it all, but suffice it to say, there is nothing like this archive anywhere else in the world.

It was shot mostly in Buffalo over the course of 35 years for commercials, and institutional and promotional video. Most of these moving images have never been seen by anyone other than the people who shot and edited the video…
Until now.

There are a few reasons this amazing archive was about to wind up in a dumpster.

Despite its real historical value, no institution would take this stuff first because of the sheer amount of space needed to properly store the material.

But then, even once it’s stored, there’s the additional burden of gathering the physical resources necessary to view and digitize what is on these bulky old tapes and films.

While 16mm film and one-inch video tape were the industry standard for decades, the equipment and skills needed to make the video on those formats useful to us today is incredibly scarce.

At the moment, I have no way of showing you the video locked away on these defunct media. That’s why I need your help.

It takes not only time to unlock the images on these tapes, but it’s going to take a substantial financial investment to find the equipment needed to digitize, restore, and bring back to life the contents which haven’t been seen in 20, 30, even 50 years.

Help me bring what is now a warehouse full of old tapes and films back from the dead, and then tell the stories that are found in those images in the Buffalo Stories way you’ve become used to.

An early peek at what’s on these films is just amazing.

I was able to use a flatbed scanner to get a good look at some of the 16mm images on some of the film.

These still photos are amazing, and with your help, we’ll soon be turning these cast away piles of film and tapes into living, moving digitized video, to be shared with the world and help make Buffalo’s past– a big part of our future.

For a couple of decades now, Buffalo Stories LLC and, well, my attic, have been the last hope for Buffalo’s treasures on the way to the trash…

But this is more than I’ve ever taken on before, and I need your help.

We’re dealing with 11 pallets, the cost of a storage unit, and thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment needed to see the amazing footage that is literally in my hands— but for the moment, inaccessible.

Conservatively, I need about $3500 worth of equipment to be able to view all of these different media. If you’re like me, and you think that there is some value in not only saving these tapes and films— but also bringing this footage to life, I hope you’ll consider joining me in making a financial commitment to make that happen.

Support The Buffalo Stories Film Conservation Initiative

Your support of The Buffalo Stories Film Conservation Initiative is NOT tax deductible, but it’s the only way we’re going to be able to save these amazing images.

All merchandise is slated for November, 2018 delivery so that we can get to digitizing the tapes and film as soon as possible. Thanks for your understanding.

Buffalo Stories Ball Cap $50

The proceeds from the purchase of this cap (deliverable November, 2018) will be used toward the conserving, digitizing, and sharing of the Buffalo Stories Film Archive



Buffalo Stories Tote Bag $25

The proceeds from the purchase of this tote bag (deliverable November, 2018) will be used toward the conserving, digitizing, and sharing of the Buffalo Stories Film Archive



$10 towards Buffalo Stories Film Conservation efforts

These funds will be used toward the conserving, digitizing, and sharing of the Buffalo Stories Film Archive.  Any $10 increment amount can be entered.


Any questions? Thank you!