Sunday, December 28, 2008

Wolcottsburg Wolcottsville

A small article in the Buffalo News caught my attention Friday:

BERGHOLZ — The Historical Society of North German Settlements in Western New York is trying to help a German man get photos of clothing worn by Germans who came to the United States during the 19th century.

Elaine Timm, of Niagara Falls, said Werner Karsch, of Schmolin, Germany, is looking for photos of clothing worn by those who left the Uckermark region of Germany in 1860 or earlier. Ancestors from that region now live in areas that include Wheatfield, Martinsville and Wolcottsville, Timm said.

Call Timm at 716-421-2217. She said she will take a photo of the articles and forward it to Karsch.

First I'm trying to remember if my mom has any old pictures. Then I look up the history of photography and find that modern methods didn't really start until the 1880's, so now we're talking daguerreotypes most likely.

Then I started thinking about the "Wolcottsville -Wolcottsburg" names, and how I keep forgetting which one is which. I spent a lot of time in Wolcottsburg in Erie County, not Wolcottsville in Niagara County...Yes, I had to look it up.

I don't feel bad about not remembering the name, because even those charged with recording and photographing historical buildings, cemeteries and other resources in Clarence called it Wolcottsville. Having spent an hour skimming through the PDF file I can truthfully say that I'm almost nitpicking.

A lot of work went into this presentation. Even though I thought some valuable places were missed, there is so very much included. After the history is presented the photographs start. You can scroll through by street name & number and do the "I remember" or the "I didn't know that" thing frequently, especially if you no longer live in the area.

Immigrants from the Uckermark area settled in Erie County too, in Wolcottsburg (also known as West Prussia, back in the day). According to Sue Roll, the Hartwig family came from the village of Bergholz near Löcknitz. These towns are north-northeast of Berlin in the province of Bradenburg, located in historical Prussia.

The history of settlers in Wolcottsville (in Niagara County) can be found via the Moll Brothers site, as they thoroughly researched their family history. The Alfred Moll family ended up in Wolcottsburg in later years.

A different article in the News is about a visit to Germany by a Niagara County group, which is interesting from their perspective. I can get huffy about the Clarence Germans being ignored, but why continue in a divisive tradition...

At first glance it would seem curious that 2 similar groups would not have merged. But back then there were no cars, no fast and easy way to stay in touch. This is assuming they would have wanted to. Far from banding together, they were noted for digging their heels in at the slightest difference of opinion and forming new communities. In Wolcottsburg the church split for a while, with the breakaway faction building a new place to worship right next door.

It is an accurate stereotype that Germans can be stubborn, which can be a plus or a minus, take your pick:
  1. Unreasonably, often perversely unyielding; bullheaded.
  2. Firmly resolved or determined; resolute.
If I've lost your attention, try to at least check on the Historical Resources file (takes a while to fully load) and the Moll Brothers history.

And If you have any pertinent photographs of clothing from the 1860's, give Ms. Timm a call!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Buffalo Memorial Auditorium - Auctioning Off Pieces, Saving the Memories

This afternoon I plan on wandering over to the Buffalo Convention Center to attend the Farewell to The Aud event. It's not like one can say goodbye there though. One needs to go down to the actual site for that.

One more glimpse of the place where I saw my first real concert - Jethro Tull - and many more after that...Both many more Jethro Tull concerts, and many more other bands too. Tickets for the orange seats, bought at Norton Hall/the Student Union at UB, were typically purchased due to cost concerns, with full plans to actually park our butts elsewhere.

One of the last times I was in the Aud for a concert was for Bob Seger and his "Like a Rock" tour. I was with someone not familiar with this routine and when I was attempting to wander through lower seats she said in a loud voice "I thought we had orange seats!" after which the usher looked at us and shook his head. I pointed out to her exactly where these seats were, way way up at the top. As we walked away I explained the plan, which she said I should have done previously. I thought she knew! We later watched from a side view in the blues.

Wrestling matches too. I remember my father watching Haystack Calhoun and Gorgeous George on the black and white television. In later years I would go to the Aud to cheer on Hulk Hogan, Jake the Snake, Ricky Steamboat, and various other wrestlers, all while taking pictures, like the one here (I didn't give them ALL away after I had moved on). Some of these I would later sell to wrestling magazines and to fans.

The first match I went to, tagging along with friends on a nothing to do night, featured Jesse "The Body" Ventura (later to be Governor of Minnesota) wearing his boa and Adrian Adonis (real name Keith Franke, of Kenmore). I was smitten with the whole thing, for a while anyway. I lost interest eventually when it became too much like work, and it was more intriguing to take a closeup of a praying mantis in front of us (at an outdoor match at the Hamburg Fairgrounds) than Sergeant Slaughter.

I actually didn't see too many Buffalo Sabres games at the Aud. My first hockey games there were for the Buffalo Bisons, while sitting in the gray seats. They weren't comfortable then, but much better than those orange seats that we viewed the Buffalo Braves from...and one of my kids thinks the upper level of the Arena is scary...Fear of falling was a given. I don't see how anyone could even want to drink too much beer up there.

My kids got to see the Shrine Circus in the Aud (from the safety of lower seats), so they have a bit of themselves in the building too.

Now the seats are for sale - the blue ones anyway. The oranges were bolted to the floor and it wasn't practical to undo them for sale. A tool probably rolled down the aisle and went crashing to the floor in a slow motion foreshadowing of doom for any who tried to pry them loose :) Down with the, Aud... for them!

Anyway, there promises to be various vendors of memorabilia set up, and I definitely plan on coming away with something, even if it's just a hockey puck. You can have your picture taken in front of a fake front, but I'd rather go down to the foot of Main for the real thing.

For those who couldn't make it to Buffalo this weekend, there will also be an online auction of some of the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium seats that have been set aside for just this purpose. Get ready to shell out some bucks, as people bid as high as $1000 for 4 attached seats. Not me. I'll take a picture instead.

12/10/08 Update: Possible auction of the orange seats

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Clarence Teacher - In Memory of Jerome Werblow

Jerome Werblow was an English and public speaking teacher at Clarence Junior High School back in the day (not sure when he retired). I remember him taking the whole class to see "To Sir, With Love" when it first came out. I think he kinda wanted someone to try to sing it to him - didn't happen. A bit late, but I'd like to finally say on behalf of all the students whose lives he touched that the song "To Sir, With Love" is dedicated to Mr. Werblow.

WERBLOW - Jerome V. November 10, 2008; beloved husband of Gloria (Resman) Werblow; devoted father of Ellen Werblow of NC, Leslie (Todd) Platts of PA and Barbara (Gary) Catalfu of NC; loving grandfather of T.J. and Tom Platts, Ryan and Kevin Catalfu; brother of Jack (Suzanne) Weblow. Proudly served his country in the Air Force during the Korean conflict and will be fondly remembered by his many students from Clarence Jr. High School, he was an avid sports fan. Graveside services will be held Thursday 2 PM at Elmlawn Cemetery, meet at the Brighton Rd. entrance. In lieu flowers memorials may be made to the Autism Society of NC, 505 Oberlin Dr., Suite 230, Raleigh, NC 27605. The family will receive friends at his former residence, Thursday evening through Sunday. Arrangements by the MESNEKOFF FUNERAL HOME, (639-8890)

Click here to View and Sign Guest Book View/Sign Guest Book

Monday, November 10, 2008

James Montoro - RIP

Clarence alumnus ('79) James Montoro passed away recently in Vermont. Rest in peace.

MONTORO - James C. Age 47, of Middletown Springs, VT, formerly of Clarence, NY, passed away on October 24, 2008 after a courageous battle with cancer. He was buried in Vermont. Beloved husband of Wendy Leffel; cherished son of John and Rose Montoro; dearest brother of John (Melinda) Montoro and Linda (Dr. Samuel) Ruggiero; loving uncle of Carami and Christian Montoro, and Matthew and Julia Ruggiero; also survived by several aunts, uncles and cousins. James was a graduate of Clarence High School and Purdue University with a degree in Biomedical Engineering, and did graduate work at the University of Buffalo. He was employed by Honeywell. A memorial mass will be celebrated in his honor on January 3, 2009 at 9:00 AM at St. Gabriels Roman Catholic Church, Elma. Flowers gratefully declined, donations may be made to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.

Click here to View and Sign Guest Book View/Sign Guest Book

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Francine Marino Storm - RIP

Clarence alumna ('80) Francine Marino Storm passed away October 30, 2008 after a long struggle with reoccurring Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. She had been at Millard fillmore Suburban Hospital for the last few weeks, struggling to get strong enough to return home one more time, but it was not to be. Rest in peace, Francine.

STORM - Francine M. (Marino) October 30, 2008, beloved wife of Michael Storm; mother of Joseph Storm; daughter of Joseph and Angeline (Massaro) Marino; daughter-in-law of John and Gertrude Storm; sister of Joel Scime; survived by many nieces and nephews. Family present to receive friends Monday from 4-8 PM at the PERNA-PELLEGRINO FUNERAL HOME, 1671 Maple Rd. Family and friends are asked to assemble for a Mass of Christian Burial to be celebrated Tuesday at 10 AM from Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Clarence). Interment Mt. Calvary Cemetery. Flowers gratefully declined. Arrangements by Connie Perna-Pellegrino.

Click here to View and Sign Guest Book View/Sign Guest Book

Friday, October 31, 2008

Kupferschleeger Road

Clarence has it's very own notable Halloween spot on the north side of town. Last week's Art Voice picked up on it as it was doing a tour of local spooky areas:
"Lastly we park our butts outside Delaware Road off Transit as the clock inches toward midnight. No one travels down Delaware Road except fanatics like us: a dark road that never sees cars, surrounded by woods. We sit there and listen to the trees. We tell stories about local hicks who hang squirrels and like to eat 16-year-old kids. We look for the mystery of night. Then there’s no more talk, just the beating of our hearts, and the breaths that we take, until someone lights a cigarette and says, “I’m tired. Let’s get out of here.”
The first issue I have with it is the location, obviously. It's not directly off of Transit, rather it's between Goodrich and Salt Roads in the part of town known as Wolcottsburg. Local hicks? Well, this IS campfire scary story time after all.

I also saw another Delaware Road mention online on StrangeUSA from 2006:
"In the early morning hours of spring and fall driving down this old carriage road you can feel a presence of old world culture. If on the right night one can make out a man standing roadside holding a lantern, and two feet on the right or left you can see a young girl waiting with the man for something. Warning: Rumors of a kid beaten pretty badly, please do not stop, it may not be safe."
Oh pooh. What rumors? However it has been little more than a wide heavily wooded trail for over 150 years, so something may have happened. Spooky it is. Not safe? At least it's paved now, which it wasn't in the 60's and before. Driving down two muddy tire ruts going through the closely hovering trees in the midnight hour or any other time brings fears of getting stuck, but that's about it...Of course, if stuck, all those other hobgoblins may come shuffling out of the woods :)

Back in the day when this route was first carved through the forest it was called Kupferschleeger Road (aka Francis Road) after the farmer whose property it bordered. Remember there was a predominant Prussian-German community there at the time. In fact the corner on Goodrich was site to many festivities in the late 1800's, including a beer garden and the first carousal. Probably was spooky then too if someone wandered off.

According to a book written by Clarence alumnus ('84) and teacher Doug Kohler about the North Country of Clarence, the white-sheeted ones came to town in the early 1920's and held a rally deep on the road in 1924. Now THAT'S scary.

The first time I drove my kids down there while killing time they freaked out, and it was broad daylight...Daylight in the outside world that is. The woods have a way of taking time away and replacing it with an otherwordly experience. "Mom, are you sure you know where we are? Mom, can we leave now? Mom?" There's only so fast you can safely drive from one end to the other. Besides, I wanted to savor the atmosphere:)

This Halloween night, or any other time for that matter, check it out for yourself. Woooo!

(HT to Bill)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Jeff Putney - RIP

Clarence alumnus ('72) Jeff Putney passed away October 24, 2008. Rest in peace Jeff.

PUTNEY - Jeffrey C. October 24, 2008, of Clarence, NY, beloved brother of Gail (Ken) Skeens, Michael (Elaine) Conover, John Putney, Nancy (Reginald) Sutton, Leslie Seamans (Doug Byrd) and the late Mark Putney; also survived by nieces and nephews; predeceased by his mother, Betty Jean Staubitz Putney. Friends received today 6-8 PM with a time to share at 7:30 PM at SHEPARD BROS. FUNERAL HOME, 10690 Main St., Clarence. A Graveside Service will be Monday 11 AM at Clarence Fillmore Cemetery, Ransom Rd., Clarence. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Hospice Buffalo, Inc.

Click here to View and Sign Guest Book View/Sign Guest Book

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Clarence Teacher - In Memory of Herbert Bosch

Long time Clarence school teacher Herbert Bosch passed away on October 2, 2008. I never had him for English, but Budd Bailey ('73) recalls him as the teacher that cured him of any interest in reading Shakespeare after junior year elective. However he's willing to concede that Shakespeare was more to blame for that than Mr. Bosch.

The '69 Saga had a two page photo spread in appreciation of Mr. Bosch, and I borrowed a few of the pictures to share here (photo from later years appeared in the News).

From the Buffalo News:

May 16, 1923 — Oct. 2, 2008

Herbert A. Bosch, a retired Clarence High School English teacher, died Oct. 2 in Mercy Hospital. He was 85.

Born in Port Jervis, the Elma resident came to Buffalo with his family in the late 1920s. He attended School 54 and Fosdick- Masten Park High School.

A Navy veteran, Mr. Bosch served on destroyer escorts in the Pacific, Mediterranean and Atlantic theaters during World War II. After the war, he received his bachelor’s degree in education from Wagner College and his master’s degree in education from the University of Buffalo.

Before retiring in 1984, he taught for 31 years, starting at Cattaraugus and Amherst Central high schools. His last 25 years as a full-time teacher were at Clarence High, where he was known for singing “The Night Before Christmas” before the annual holiday break and once narrating a school band performance of “Peter and the Wolf” in Kleinhans Music Hall.

After retiring, he was a substitute teacher at Iroquois Central High School for many years. A lover of history and nature, he volunteered at Tifft and Beaver Meadow nature preserves and was president of the Elma Library board.

Surviving are his wife of 61 years, Carol Kenline Bosch; five sons, Peter, Stephen, Jonathan, David and Daniel; two daughters, Kathy (Sister Ambrosia) and Janey; a brother, Paul; and a sister, Ruth Becker.

A memorial service will be at 3 p. m. Oct. 25 in St. John’s Lutheran Church on Woodward Road in Elma.

BOSCH - Herbert A. October 2, 2008. Beloved husband of 61 years of Carol (nee Kenline) Bosch; father of Peter (Laurie), Stephen, Jonathan, Kathy (Sister Amvrosia), David (Kathy), Daniel (Melanie) and Janey; grandfather of 19; Opa of 15. Mr. Bosch donated his body to UB. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Hospice Buffalo, Inc. or Tifft Nature Preserve. Memorial service to be held October 25th at 3 PM in St. Johns Lutheran Church, Woodard Rd., Elma.

(View/Sign Guest Book)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Williams Hall

100 years ago the Clarence Center Volunteers Firemen Company was formed. E.W. Eshelman donated the land for a fire hall and the company set out to raise money to build one. The first firemen's picnic was held in July of that year for fundraising, and the tradition has continued ever since. Wesley Williams donated a large sum of money to the fund, thus "Williams Hall".

As time went on more space was needed for trucks, since there was only one doorway, on the lower left. Eventually another hall was built and the original was mothballed. Now it's gone, but you knew that if you went to the picnic last year.

Now the site of Williams Hall bears a marker with a plaque on the back - gone but not forgotten. While demolition by neglect still irks me, it's not uncommon, unfortunately. The Buffalo Memorial Auditorium being another example of this mindset, as well as the grand interior of the no longer used entrance to the Buffalo Science Museum (at least that may be renovated).

There is a bright side - now the bandstand can be seen from Clarence Center Road. This isn't the place that Route 66, Hit n Run, and West of Mark will play - they'll be on a stage in the beer tent. No, this bandstand will be home to a more low-key style. The groups there will play the kind of music that all ages can enjoy while eating or resting from walking around.

The picture of Williams Hall is also a reminder to take photos of historic buildings while you can. You never know - one day you may show up to capture an image for posterity, camera in hand, and find out it's gone. I should know, because it happened to me.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Clarence Historical Museum

Today is the "History Day" part of the Clarence Heritage Days weekend celebration. That brings us directly to the front door of the Clarence Historical Museum, located at 10465 Main Street, on the north side of the Town Park. It will be open all weekend so that residents and visitors alike can view the collected materials relating to early and present day Clarence.

A couple of weeks ago I stopped by and was shown around by the museum curator, Clarence alumna ('71) Alicia Bush Braaten (pictured). There are various sections on military history (including current residents in the armed forces), domestic life, industry, schools (including yearbooks from back when through 2008), and much more.

The Goodrich-Landow log cabin is also located on the grounds and is available for inside tours. It was interesting to learn that the phrase "sleep tight" originated in the need to tighten the ropes that held the mattress up. The "bed bugs" part is self-explanatory.

I've posted the pictures I took in a web album for all to browse through. I'll be adding more as I go back on a later date and meander though the parts I missed that day, due to becoming fascinated on one side of the museum, while at the same time, reminiscing with a childhood friend :) So much to see, so little time alloted...Time flies, both that day and in the historical sense.

Today there will be a special focus on old time games and activities for an afternoon of memories. From the brochure:
"Outside there will be a checkers tournament, croquet, nine pins, game of graces, jacks, marbles, and more! Inside the building speakers will present short programs at the top of each hour. Historic re-enactors will be on the grounds to answer questions, especially the age old one, "Was life easier back then?"

The regular hours of the Museum are Wednesday 10am - 2pm and Sunday 1pm - 4pm (March 1 - October 31). The hours for Clarence Genealogy research at the Gerber Greatbatch Library, 10871 Main Street are Wednesday 9:30am - 12noon (716-749-1623).

Mark Putney - RIP

Clarence alumnus ('74) Mark Putney passed away July 23, 2008 after a long illness. He counted the late Rich Beyer (Class '70) among his closest friends . Rest in Peace Mark.

PUTNEY - Mark D. July 23, 2008 of Clarence, NY. Beloved brother Gail (Ken) Skeens, Michael (Elaine) Conover, John Putney, Nancy (Reginald) Sutton, Jeffrey Putney and Leslie Seamans; also survived by nieces and nephews. Predeceased by his mother Betty Jean (Staubitz) Putney. Friends received Saturday 3-5:30 with a service at 6 PM at SHEPARD BROS FUNERAL HOME, 10690 Main St., Clarence. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Roswell Park.
Published in the Buffalo News on 7/25/2008 Guest BookFuneral home infoFlowers Charities

Friday, July 25, 2008

In Memory of Jerry Gorman

Clarence alumnus ('74) Jerry Gorman died yesterday morning, with his partner and caregiver, Judy Monin, by his side. From Judy's walk page:
"Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound…Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Superman!

Yes, Superman! Strange visitor from another planet who came to earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men.

Superman! Who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel in his bare hands, and who disguised as Jerry Gorman, mild-mannered IT Manager for a great metropolitan juice manufacturer, fights a never-ending battle for Truth, Justice, and to “Strike Out” ALS!"
Darn kryptonite, disguised as ALS...

Jerry first contacted me a short 2 weeks ago to ask everyone to join him in the Walk to Defeat ALS. The request still stands. From his sister Deborah (Class '72):
"In his last days, Jerry followed his team results in the ALS Walk avidly. It was something he could do even while bedridden, since he still had enough muscle function to use his computer. As a most avid competitor (we used to call him the "Terminator Moderator" when we played board games), he was happy to finally reach #1 in both team and individual races.

We are now asking anyone who wants to know of a charity to support in Jerry's name to donate to the Walk to Defeat ALS. We are determined to keep him as King of the Race in this year when he will not be with his walkers.

ALS is one of those diseases that doesn't get much attention because it affects a relatively small number of people, but it is so incredibly harsh and inexorable.

Jerry enjoyed life even when it threw him some very hard knocks. He had a talent for that, and I try now to take a lesson from him.

Jerry has generated love throughout his life, and it means so much to me as his sister to know that so many people honor him with their kind words."
Take the time to read previous posts that Jerry contributed to, and that many have left condolences on. Take the time to go to Jerry's Journey, and also the team page, to read the stories by clicking on the many names. Take the time to remember Jerry by donating to "Strike out ALS!"

Most of all, remember Jerry. He will live on in the hearts of many and continue to be an inspiration for us all.

"Rest in Peace" almost doesn't seem fitting. Somehow I have a feeling that he'll continue the fight from the other side. Rock on Jerry! We'll miss you.

(the pictures are from Jerry's team pages and include Jerry & Judy, and at the Brown's in FL)

GORMAN - Gerald V. (Jerry) July 24, 2008. Loving companion of Judy (Kaminski) Monin; dear father of Jeanna, Michael and Alexandra Gorman; son of Jeanette B. (Buccella) Licata and the late Donald Gorman Sr.; brother of Deborah (Benito Cachinero) Gorman, Rosemary (Robert) McLennan, William (Kathleen) Gorman, late Donald (Carla) Gorman, Jr.; uncle of Benito and Alexander Cachinero-Gorman, Chase Gorman, Ashley and Natalie Gorman, Emma, Abby, and Hannah Palmerton; also survived by many aunts, uncles, and cousins. Funeral from the JAMES W. CANNAN FUNERAL HOME, INC. (Southtowns Chapel) 3155 Orchard Park Road, Monday at 9:30 and from St. Mary of the Lake Church at 10:30 AM. Friends may call Saturday and Sunday from 2-4 and 7-9 PM. In lieu of flowers donations may be sent to Jerrys Journey-Buffalo Walk to Defeat A.L.S., P.O. Box 784, Dunkirk, NY 14048. Online registers book at
Published in the Buffalo News from 7/25/2008 - 7/27/2008
Guest BookFuneral home infoFlowers Charities

Monday, July 7, 2008

In Memory of Becky Neiss

Clarence alumna ('79) Becky Neiss passed away suddenly on July 4, 2008. She has been described by everyone as one of the nicest people, and a really wonderful person. Becky was fun to be around, and she was caught on camera at last year's Labor Day picnic as she was hanging out with friends (pictured above).

Becky worked as an administrative assistant in the Economics Department at UB. She loved her work family, and they were very important to her.

Becky will live on in spirit in the hearts of many. Condolences to both family and friends.

Rest in peace.

From the Buffalo News:

NEISS - Rebecca July 4, 2008, age 47, of Williamsville, NY, beloved daughter of Rebecca J. (Woodworth) and the late Charles R. Neiss; dear sister of John C. (late Marylouise), Sharon A. (Mark) Phillips, Charles V. and James C. (Marie) Neiss; also survived by her loving dog and companion, Bailey Blueberry Neiss, nieces, nephews, many relatives and friends.

Friends received Tuesday 4-8 PM at SHEPARD BROS. FUNERAL HOME, 10690 Main St., Clarence where a Funeral Service will be held Wednesday at 10 AM. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Animal Humane Society of your choice.

Becky was a 1979 graduate of Clarence High School, and also of SUNY at Buffalo, where she earned a BA in Psychology.

Published in the Buffalo News on 7/6/2008. Guest BookFuneral home infoFlowers Charities

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

At The Foot of Breckenridge Street

Much has been in the news lately about the collapse and potential revival of the historic White Brothers Livery. Sam Savarino was able to take ownership of it yesterday for $1, and thus insure maximum effort and ability towards restoring it. That's a far cry from the original $400,000 asking price for a building assessed at $40,000. After allowing it to deteriorate, the previous owner didn't want to take responsibility for his lack of action. Surprise, surprise.

This started me wandering, camera in hand, to another old building in the area. Sort of a "whatever happened to" type of thing.

Also on the west side is the Breckenridge Street Church (pictured) which was built in 1827. Located at the end of Breckenridge, it too was the focus of much hand-wringing until Rich Products agreed to preserve it. I think that means mothball it, but at least it's not demolished.

The Breckenridge Street Church (also known as the Union Meeting House) exists on land that was originally part of a large parcel owned by Peter Porter, of Porter Avenue and War of 1812 fame. Supposedly when President Grover Cleveland was in town he attended services there. It is now classified as a warehouse.

Right around the corner from it, at 19 Mason Street, is a little house that was built in 1800. That means (if the date is accurate) that it survived the War of 1812, in which most of Buffalo was burned to the ground.

Although Mason is listed as a street, it actually is a narrow alley. Located among warehouses, it's easy to miss - I thought it was a driveway for loading docks. The house itself is the only residence left on the street that at one time overlooked the Niagara River.

Currently, the Mason Street House has bars on the windows and doors. It has siding on it, so it has been taken care of but lacks the "original look". However, it's so isolated that I wouldn't want to be there after the workers have left for the day (as a matter of fact, even with a worker visible I didn't get out of the car).

It doesn't seem to be architecturally significant, and other than being old, nothing special. I would think it's construction and interior details would be historically interesting though, unless it was gutted somewhere along the line.

The Mason Street House survived the burning of Buffalo...that alone should count for something!

(the map is from 1894 and is part of the City of Buffalo Atlas located on the Erie County/Real Property website; click on sections within for detail)

Update: More pictures of the church and the little house on Mason

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Log Cabins

Back when Clarence was first founded everybody was building log cabins. The land had to be cleared and thus a ready supply of logs was available for the necessary shelter. Lumber mills would come later.

The top picture is of my great-great-grandparents' log cabin that existed down on Goodrich. Behind it is a house that used to be located on Wolcott. It took them 3 days to roll it on logs to it's current location (thanks to William Greene, current owner, for that info). In the picture you can see that it's still lacking a solid foundation. You could say that logs came in handy.

Much has been made of the Landow-Goodrich log cabin, now located in front of the Clarence Historical Museum. It's the best preserved example in it's original form. The Brace home on Main also has a log cabin embedded within, but it's not the only one in town.

At the corner of Wolcott and Goodrich there are 2 buildings across the street from one another that contain log cabins. The double structure on the right used to house a corner store. I think the cabin is under the larger building, as the History of the Town of Clarence says that August Meisner enlarged it by building around it first, then added a meeting place to the right later on. Clara Kanehl, who lived at the above mentioned house, later operated a store there.

Across the street there's a little white house behind the stop sign (currently owned by the Fitzners). That has a log cabin within it also. Another great great grandmother, Christina Faskel (she of the missing headstone - more on that later) used to live there.

Actually, if one were to browse through that intersection there's a treasure trove of history to be glimpsed. On the far right is a corner of the old German school. To the left of Fitzner's house is Frenchy's tavern (whatever it's called now), a very old mainstay. In it's parking lot is the first Clarence Center post office.

Also on that corner (of Delaware Road) is where the early immigrants used to have a picnic grove. The first carousal (made by Carl Landow and Carl Newman) operated there, earning at first scorn for it's frivolity, and later acceptance by the hard-working Germans.

I'm sure that there's many more log cabins out there, nestled within other buildings. They're a testament to solid workmanship and materials. People made do with what they had, and didn't let anything go to waste. We could learn from that.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Foot of Main - A Tour Along the Waterfront

It used to be that the foot of Main Street was where some of our parents threatened we'd end up, living in a cardboard box, if we didn't get our act together. Now it's becoming quite the place to be, with the biggest aspects yet to come. Well, that's if "new" can beat out nature and history.

It's hard to tell that many places you see on the news are all linked together, if you're not familiar with the area anymore. Here's an easy primer:

Start out by Memorial Auditorium (while it's still there), which is a parking lot away from HSBC Arena, home of the Buffalo Sabres. Everyone knows where that is, right?

If you go over to the area immediately adjacent to the Arena, you'll be roaming through the historic Cobblestone District. Heading to the west instead you can walk straight through to the lookout tower at Erie Basin Marina, while passing through many an attraction.

Immediately you'll come upon the Commercial Slip, the Erie Canal terminus that opened to the public last weekend. There are walkways,bridges, and signs that direct your attention to the historical moments and people connected with the area. While some chronically dissatisfied people have decried it as garish, I like it, as do the many other people I observed. Also featured are the excavated ruins of the Steamship Hotel.

A few steps over is the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park. There you will be able to board ships and a submarine (for a small fee), and gaze upon fighter planes. This is where many of the monuments commemorating both the war dead and everyone who served in the military are located. Don't forget to check out the museum. I want to mention also that this park seems to have undergone many name changes. The term "Servicemen's" was also in there at one time. It's the same place.

A short walk along the water will bring you to the Erie Basin Marina. This is the home of the ships Miss Buffalo I & II, but there is more! Shanghai Red's (formerly Crawdaddy's) is across the way, but we prefer to grab some food at The Hatch. You can sit on the outdoor patio and watch the boats and view the Buffalo Lighthouse across the way, before ambling onwards.

A note of caution here - there are signs warning patrons to guard the food from aggressive sea gulls. These are not put up to be cute. I had a hot dog swiped from a tray as I was carrying it out a few years ago. Then the bird sat a few feet away and tried to eat it. I grabbed it back and threw it out. If I can't eat it, neither can the gull (aka the common tern).

Incidentally, the tree sculptures are once again on display along the roadway, across from The Hatch. The identity of the "Mystery Man' turned out to be Tim Rusert of South Buffalo, the political talk show host. Also new is Dewitt Clinton, seen pouring water into the Erie Canal.

After walking by the seawall for a short spell you will come upon the newly opened Buffalo Beach. It's not for swimming (riptides and all), but for relaxing. Last September I took a picture of a family enjoying a patch of sand that they reached by climbing down the rocks. Now there's a sandy walkway going down to the enlarged area (pictured). It's kind of neat :)

Across from the beach is the lookout tower where you can gaze out across where Lake Erie and the Niagara River meet, and across the way to Canada. Also back to where you left your car. Of course, after visiting the Military Park you can always move the vehicle into the Marina, since there's plenty of parking. But walk - it's not that far!

Last weekend I went down there and took my camera. Everything has been loaded into the re-titled web album "Erie Basin Marina, the Commercial Slip, and the Naval and Military Park". However, it should be noted that I merely take pictures. The guy at Buffalo T-Shirts takes photographs. If you check out his blog, you'll more photos of the foot of Main, along with other places.

Visit the foot of Main Street where the Niagara River and Lake Erie meet - you'll be glad you did!

Saturday, May 31, 2008


For some reason or other the word "quaint" really grates on me. The usual words accompanying it - rustic and old-fashioned - also bother me. All of them mean basically the same thing to me - frozen in time.

The word has been used here a few times, by myself in a somewhat sarcastic manner at times, and by others. The Buffalo Pundit used it recently to describe the Four Corners and Clarence Hollow. It's a big marketing tool word too.

The Town of Clarence is not static. It is constantly evolving, while at the same time trying to preserve the traces of it's roots. Quaint is Lily Dale - nothing much has changed there for over a hundred years. Clarence doesn't fit that description.

It can be a bit disorientating to cruise down a road not usually taken and see the build-up that has taken place. Going down Thompson Road a few years back I was struck by all the new builds. It produced a feeling of "Where am I? Where did all the farm houses go?" Maybe I just parked some in my memory that weren't there, substituting another country road for this one. Maybe.

Subdivisions where there used to be fields. McMansions sprouting like so many weeds. The place where I grew up looked nothing like this. And my version looks positively urban compared to that of previous generations.

It was all downhill after Grant City went up opposite Transitowne Plaza (at Main and Transit, for the new folks). Next thing you know Eastern Hills Mall was built, and now Transit Road resembles one big strip plaza, with Main Street panting in the wings.

The only area that still resembles my youth somewhat is the northern-most part of town. That too will change once the developers get their shovels in the land that still is considered agricultural at this time. However, since when it's not farmed the land looses it's exemption (per town legislation), more will hit the dirt, so to speak. Can't really blame the developers - that's what they do for a living. Can't really "blame" anyone. Change.

Yes, Clarence used to truly fit the definition of rural. No more. You used to drive down Goodrich from Main for a good 3 miles without seeing much evidence of habitation. City folks coming out to visit for the first time wondered if they'd ever find a town :) Then again, most of what is now considered the second ring suburbs where like that, even Amherst.

Before it was despoiled by gaudy things like cars and electricity, Clarence was quaint. Before becoming the haven of developers, later day Clarence could even be described as quaint, a little bit anyway. Now it's a rapidly changing place that considers the places and people of our youth, things we took for granted, as so much history.

I remember when the Four Corners had a tavern and there were rooms to let along the side, and when Eshelman's was run by an actual Mr. Eshelman, and when Bratt's across Clarence Center Road was run by Thelma and Mr. Bratt. And I'm not even that old! (no eye rolling please)

There's still one oasis amid all the progress. One place where nothing really changes - the Beer Tent at the Labor Day Picnic! Oh yeah - and the clam chowder, barbecued chicken, and the food in general. The Parade...and the bandstand...Labor Day in Clarence Center. Then it's back to life in the present day world.

Like Jan Hartwig said, "That's life; the only thing that's for sure is that things change."

Change - the only thing to do is hang on for the ride.

"Life is a culmination of the past, an awareness of the present, an indication of a future" - Charles Lindbergh

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Hollow - Part Three

I asked a select group of people (my class of '72 classmates and relatives on my mother's side, many of whom graduated in the '40s and '50s) their opinions on the Clarence Hollow posts. My thought was that those who had stayed in Clarence their entire lives would have experienced changes gradually and therefore have a different viewpoint than those who have moved away - even if only a few towns over, where they now spend most of their time.

I also thought that age might come into play. Those of the Parker generation would have seen more changes over time, while those of us in the middle are still hanging on to the images of our youth. The youngest generations more than likely haven't been hit by that "change" thing - yet. If our grandparents could weigh in, I'm sure there would be yet another angle - "Changes? Let me tell you about changes..."

As expected, most people may have thought about it but chose not put their feelings into words. However, Parker alumna ('49) Janice Donner Hartwig did take the time, and here is her viewpoint:

"I'll comment on the recent things in the Bee about Clarence Hollow because I don't agree with them.

Perhaps some of the buildings are run-down but I'm sure in time someone will work to improve them. Maybe the writer didn't happen to be here during the time Main Street was torn up due to the installation of the sewers and things really were a mess. I think the work the N.Y. Dept. of Transportation or whoever did it has turned out beautifully from the East Hill to the West Hill. The brick walkways and the lampposts now give it a quaint look and it's neat and clean.

Perhaps it's not as he remembers it but that's life; the only thing that's for sure is that things change.

If he'd like to hear laments, he should talk to someone from one generation back who remembers when we went to school at Parker up on Academy Hill -

"Far above the busy humming, on a hill so high,
stands our Parker Alma Mater,
reaching toward the sky"

"In those days" the guys would sneak out of school and go to the bottom of the hill to "Ma Hummel's" (Mysterious to me, I don't know if I was ever there) but it always sounded like many things transpired there.

It made many of us sad to see Parker torn down.

Thinking about it, I suppose the writer probably went there for his early years of school but that's not the same as when it was high school with 45 - 75 students per grade."

Agree or disagree with the posts on Clarence Hollow? Truthfully, I don't think that there is a right or wrong answer. It's all in our perceptions, and in our memories.

(The top photo is of Hummels's located at Main & Academy; It was a service station in the early 1900's, but it seems to have gone through various incarnations. Both it and the Parker School photo are from the History of the Town of Clarence)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Hollow - Part Two

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.

From Cathy:

"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."

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Hollow - Part One

The following opinions (in 2 parts, today and tomorrow) 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.

Not everyone gets the Clarence Bee, and not everyone reads all columns. It's also not available online. For those who missed it, here is Alec's letter, rewritten in it's entirety:

"I recently came into Clarence for some family matters and was appalled by the condition of Clarence Hollow.

I grew up in the Hollow during the 60's and 70's when the Hollow was Clarence. The memories of the beautiful homes and the small businesses that dotted Main street with wonderfully kept yards are still fresh in my memory.

For many years I was able to come back, to visit my family and until recently, to see this once beautiful town of my youth.

I knew many of the families who lived in the Hollow. Some were local business people, and many were members of the volunteer fire department, as was my father, all with a fierce pride in their town's appearance. They all took special care in how their homes and businesses looked.

I know from talking with some of them that they are feeling betrayed and that no one cares. As I drove around town I saw homes near Our Lady of Peace Church literally falling apart and homes in the Hollow that are nothing more than unpainted storage garages. There are dirt piles left from the sewer installation put in to "improve" the town.

I understand that time marches on and that things change. Change seems to have moved Clarence out of the Hollow, and the "new" Clarence is further west.

That's fine, but there wouldn't be a "new Clarence" if not for The Hollow and the people who took such pride in it.

I was really shocked to see this once beautiful slice of Americana in such disrepair. Shame on you, town fathers, for how you have treated this wonderful piece of history and how you have failed the people that helped shape your town."

Interestingly enough, the following week in the Bee there were no rebuttal letters. In fact, a lone voice joined the Massaro viewpoint via the Bee Heard line.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Remembering Kevin Miller

Clarence alumnus ('71) Kevin Miller passed away unexpectedly last month. He was a friend to many, both young and old, and he will be missed by all.

MILLER-Kevin D. Suddenly, in Shanty Town, in the early morning rain of April 12, 2008; known as the fixer of a variety of life's many problems, Kevin will be missed by many far and wide. He is survived by his lifelong partner and best friend Tree (Ann Redmond); sons, Nathan D. (Sabrina) and Ryan (the boy); daughter, Major Erin C. Miller; grandson, Jackson; Tala and Stella; sisters, Elizabeth (Wally) and Nancy (Steve) and brother, Brian and several nieces and nephews and many colorful friends. The family will be present to receive friends on Friday from 2-4 and 7-9 PM at the (Harris Hill Chapel) AMIGONE FUNERAL HOME, INC., 8440 Main Street (near Harris Hill Rd.)
Published in the Buffalo News from 4/16/2008 - 4/17/2008.

(Shanty Town was located on the south side of Main near Sheridan; It was built in the 1930's to house the miners that worked at the Spaulding Quarry)

Thanks to Dan for the photo, which shows Kevin as most people remember him.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The German Lutheran School In Wolcottsburg

I constantly get those whiny emails blathering on about having to press one for English and so on. It's ironic because most of their ancestors came to this country not speaking English, and rarely getting the hang of it to the point of thinking in English in their lifetime. The children spoke both languages most likely, and their grandchildren now probably don't even speak the tongue of the old country at all. It's the same with the current crop of immigrants.

Back in the day before mass communication and easy transportation, enclaves tended to stay more isolated, especially out in the country. Churches served as community gathering sites as well as places of worship, both then and now. Many churches, especially in Buffalo, were built to gather the immigrants so that they could hear God's word in their native language and comprehend it. They also received assistance in learning English and navigating in their new country.

St. Paul Lutheran Church in northern Clarence was one such place. Located in what was then primarily known as Wolcottsburg, it was home to a large German congregation which immigrated there from Prussia starting in the 1840's. The services were conducted in German and they had a school building also, which still stands on Wolcott near Goodrich.

This was in the day before Clarence had a unified school system, and every area had to fend for itself pretty much. At the time it had separate doors in front for male and female students, as was standard for those times. From History of the Town of Clarence:
"St. Paul's congregation supported it's own German school. At times there were as many as 100 pupils enrolled. The pastor served as school teacher and for this was paid $1 extra per day...Except for one afternoon English class, all lessons were heard in German.

In 1918, when the United States went to war with Germany, the congregation at Wolcottsburg was asked to close it's school, which it did."
Why do I think "asked" might be the polite way of putting it?

I remember that my grandfather (who attended this school) still had a German hymnal in a bottom desk drawer. I never heard him speak German however. His children never learned it, and my entire German vocabulary consists of "Nein!" and a few other stray words.

This early German population doesn't receive a lot of mention in modern day histories of Clarence; the school building is no longer in use after serving as the parish hall for decades. However it still stands as a reminder of simpler times, of country schools, and of our immigrant past.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Jared Parker, The Namesake of Parker High

Way back in the day, Clarence had a loose system of one room school houses to provide the basics for the children at the primary level. Some of them still survive, such as Eddie Haidon's childhood home on the corner of Keller and Strickler (pictured). Most live on in memory only.

From the book "History of the Town of Clarence" by Oneta Baker (source of school pictures), the history of the schools receives much attention. After all, everyone went to one of them. The historical information following is from this rich source.

After the Civil War, the Union Free School law was passed. This was the movement to have a public school system which was to be supported directly by the taxpayers. The first thing on the "to do" list was to organize a high school. There already was a private one on Main Street, but the farmers weren't the only ones who were frugal.

Dr, Jared Parker enthusiastically embraced the new Clarence school system. He donated books and other things, including a 5" refracting telescope for the observatory. He also gave land for a park, and a later school site. But most of all he pledged to donate $15,000 for an endowment fund, if the taxpayers did the same.

Thus came the first establishment of a school tax, as they did indeed match the amount. This began the 1st school in NY to be comprised entirely of rural districts. The school was renamed the Parker Union School in recognition of Dr. Parker's outstanding contributions to local education.

The Parker school buildings themselves are gone now, but Jared Parker himself is memorialized in Forest Lawn, and in a fantastic book produced by Forest Lawn Cemetery, which notes prominent people and unusual monuments. Parker receives mention in both categories.

The monument IS unusual. Dr. Parker stands on top of a base that shows the faces of his wife and sons protruding through the sides. It's almost as if he's keeping them captive for eternity. When I look at the photo of Laura Parker I can almost imagine the eyes popping open and the face beginning to scream...over-active imagination, I know :) From "Forest Lawn Cemetery - Buffalo History Preserved" (page 126, source of Laura Parker picture):

" Dr. Jared Parker, sculpted in the days before women's rights, stands lordly and autocratic over bas reliefs of his wife and 2 sons. Dr. Parker (1803-1886) was a prominent physician in Clarence and assumes a heroic pose in his marble likeness, with a Napoleonic right hand tucked in his suit coat and a classical robe draped over his Victorian clothes.

Meanwhile, his wife, Laura looks dour and unhappy, and his sons Napoleon (age 38) and Hiram (aged 20) are especially serious. The carefully executed sculptures are by noted Buffalo artist, Elias Beach."

The monument is located in section Q of Forest Lawn in Buffalo NY.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Carl "CJ" Wolf Jr. - RIP

From Childs Funeral Home, Akron NY:

Carl "CJ" Wolf Jr.
Date of Birth: August 9, 1953 Date of Passing: March 25, 2008

Place of Birth: Buffalo, NY
Place of Passing: At his residence.
Resided in:
Lockport, NY
He was a 1973 graduate of Clarence High School. CJ worked as a Shipping Foreman at Fagen's Building Center in Clarence. He was also a member of the Nativity of The Blessed Virgin Mary RC Church in Williamsville. CJ was a gifted piano player and known to many as a musical genius.
CJ was the son of Carl J. Sr. and the late Nancy C. (Wright) Wolf. Besides his father, survivors include his sister Brookes (Jeffrey) Wolfe of NC, two brothers Steven of AL and Jason Wolf of Wilson, NY and one nephew.
Viewing info:
A Memorial Mass will be celebrated Saturday, April 5th at 10 AM in the Nativity of The Blessed Virgin Mary RC Church- 4375 Harris Hill Rd., Williamsville, NY 14221.
Expressions of sympathy in CJ's memory may be made to the Nativity of The Blessed Virgin Mary Church in the form of masses.
Completed by the CHILDS FUNERAL HOME, 10 Eckerson Ave., Akron.

From the Buffalo News:

WOLF-Carl J. Jr. "CJ" Suddenly of Lockport, NY, entered into rest March 25, 2008. Dear son of Carl J. Sr. and the late Nancy (Wright) Wolf; loving brother of Brookes (Jeffrey) Wolfe, Steven and Jason Wolf; uncle of one nephew; also survived by many friends. Memorial Mass will be celebrated 10:00 AM Saturday, April 5, 2008 in Nativity of Blessed Virgin Mary RC Church, Harris Hill. No prior visitation. Memorials in CJ's memory may be made to the church in the form of Masses. Arrangements by the CHILDS FUNERAL HOME, Akron. Online obit
Published in the Buffalo News on 4/2/2008. Guest BookFlowersCharities

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Erie County's Scanner Accuracy Law Lives

Somewhere in the late 1980's retail establishments challenged item pricing laws (having to price each unit for sale individually). Scanning the bar code had become the new way at the check out and it was argued that placing those little stickers was time-consuming and price changes made them messy. There also was the documented fraud by some customers changing or peeling off those little buggers.

Erie County enacted a Scanner Accuracy Law that in exchange for an item pricing waiver the stores must be held accountable for the accuracy of the scanners, with escalating penalties for violations. This requires customer vigilance, but so be it.

In the early days going to a certain supermarket was like picking up money laying on the ground. They were really bad at scanner accuracy. With 2 kids in diapers this was a boon for my finances. See, the "prize" for catching mistakes is 10 times the amount of the error, not to exceed $10. Plus the overcharge, of course. So a $1 overcharge would lead to an $11 payout. The stores face escalating fines and mandatory reporting to the Department of Weights & Measures.

The stores themselves have become experts at attempting to circumvent the penalties. Store managers have claimed that since the item in hand weighed 7.2 ounces and the ad said 7.5 ounces, it doesn't count (shelf tags rule). Or the item was out of place (doesn't count). Pointing out a pricing error during the checkout results in "But you WEREN'T overcharged, I corrected it - doesn't count".

I really haven't been pouring over my receipts lately or memorizing the prices. Scanners and pricing have become such a retail obsession that it's really not worth the effort. An apparent $5 error changed that however.

Last night at "Bull's Eye" I finally picked up McAfee Virus Scan after looking at it for the weeks leading up to the current expiration of my old product. There had been 4 units on the top shelf with a tag reading $29.99 for over a week (I can be indecisive). Finally I bought it, got home and realized I had been charged $34.99. So I went back.

The girl at customer service called electronics. Rather than ask for a mere price check, she specifically stated to the lad what I had been charged versus my claimed price. I decided to go to the store shelf to meet him. Lo and behold, all the units had been moved to a lower shelf with a corresponding shelf tag of $34.99!

As it turns out, there were 2 separate products, one being for single computers, the other for multiple PC's and they had 2 different prices. But rather than explain to me that the items were mis-shelved (if the kid had realized this), there was attempted deception. In fact, after reading both shelf tags, I had to explain it to the kid multiple times how I had been mistaken (I wasn't trying to rip off the store). "The products are NOT the same. See - this one says 3 PC's, this one doesn't."

I exchanged products to the smirk of the CS rep, got what I had originally intended, and went home.

The big thing is, the employees appear to have been taught to do whatever it takes to avoid being in violation of the scanner accuracy law. Prompting the price checker. Moving the product. Whatever else might be in their barrel of tricks to avoid responsibility, if indeed they are in violation.

I blame management and top-down pressure that they face, as the kids are too young and they have no real stake in any customer-centric outcome (unless they are somehow penalized as part of their employment).

I was mistaken, but the store was wrong.

My son said "Who cares?"

I do. In my opinion, maybe you should too.

Update: More on the subject May 5, 2009

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Harbison Brothers - A Correction of Sorts

Back on November 27th I wrote a post called "Harbison Brothers and Buffalo's First Gas Station". I was using a small article published in Business First in 1997, the facts of which were probably gleened from family members. The contentious part of a paragraph is this one:
"Harbison Brothers Inc. was originally founded as a maker and re-builder of wooden barrels in 1893 by Adam and Andrew. John, a younger brother, joined them at a later point in time."
Knowing that Adam and Andy were older than John I just assumed that they must have been a lot older, without consulting any family trees. They were not. In 1893 all three were still wee lads on the old sod.

This is were it gets a bit speculative, knowing some facts and not others, since it was a long time ago. However, three uncles had arrived in America first, the original Harbison Brothers. Arthur Ross Harbison and 2 brothers, William and Andrew most likely formed the original business in 1893.

The younger Harbison brothers, Adam, Andrew, and John began arriving in the 1902, as they each became old enough to pull up roots and settle anew.

The most likely scenario is that the younger family members eventually took over the family business. A letter from the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society dated 1990 adds some additional info:
"We searched the city directories and found that the Harbison Brothers were first listed at 179 Ellicott St. in 1917. The business was described as "barrels." In 1918 the description reads "gasoline and oils," still at 179 Ellicott. In 1919 the listing is "Harbison Brothers, 2nd hand barrels, 32-42 Appenheimer St. So it would seem that the photograph must be from either 1917 or 1918."
Meanwhile, I have heard from a previously unknown 3rd cousin in England, Pauline Erwin. It seems many family members and their friends have fond memories of Arthur Ross meeting them at Ellis Island and welcoming them to America. He eventually settled in East Aurora with his wife Sara Victoria, where his namesakes and other descendants still reside. His brothers, William and Andrew, remained single and are buried at Forest Lawn.

**UPDATE**  There was another uncle (verified with death certificates) , brother to Arthur, William, and Andrew, who came to the United States with his family and worked at the garage.  His name was Adam, and he is buried in Forest Lawn, along with his second wife, Annie Morton, and 5 of his/their children (4 of whom remained single, and a daughter who is next to her husband).

I have temporary possession of my mother's meticulously kept genealogy files on the Harbison side. They were put together with input from other relatives, some of whom have their own extensive files. I will be scanning these into the computer to share with Pauline and others as we explore family ties. My thanks to her for getting me interested in this side of the family again.

For those of you that I have totally bored with this article, I leave you with one thought:

Do you know who's in your family tree?