To recap, the following opinions (in 2 parts) are those of two Clarence alumni, members of the Massaro Family (and also of Massaro Cleaners, then located in the Hollow). This will be broken up by writer for emphasis and also ease of reading.
On a recent visit home Alec Massaro ('75) was dismayed at the conditions he witnessed and wrote a letter to the Clarence Bee (published May 14 2008). After reading the letter, sister Cathy Massaro Fisher ('72) added some sentiments and memories of her own in an email.
The Massaro viewpoint is more than valid in that they grew up in Clarence, as opposed to moving there at a later date. Their memories are real, rather than an attempt to recreate nostalgia.
"Alec has such strong, romantic memories of Clarence "in those golden years". I think many of us do. I have told my mother often how I cherish our childhood, and how they truly were "the wonder years", for me anyway. No bicycle helmets, no rapes, parades down Main Street, concerts in the Town Park, and true town pride.
My father fussed endlessly over the bedding plants in front of the store (Massaro Cleaners), and the chores we had as children included shoveling the sidewalks in front of the house and store (BEFORE we opened), keeping the big front glass windows clean and anything that said we were proud of our home, business and town.
We belonged to the larger community and that was important to our parents. They taught us by their actions and instilled in us why it mattered. So I know why Alec is so disturbed, and when I visit his home on Long Island, I see everything my dad ever taught him about being a good neighbor and home owner reflected in his yard.
Now my visits back to Clarence include trips to the cemetery on Ransom Road. This last trip, which revolved around burying my stepfather, happened at my favorite time of year...spring. I love spring because of the lilacs which grow wild across the street from that cemetery...a long row of white and pale purple bushes. I took clippers and made an enormous bunch to take over to my father's grave.
My father would be the saddest of all to see what has happened to Main Street.
That enormous bunch of lilacs looked so beautiful on his headstone."