Friday, March 20, 2009

Two Towns in One - Part 1

A while back there was a column in the Buffalo News about Long Street in Clarence Center. It contained this observation:
"Long Street is not what many consider a “typical” Clarence neighborhood, not that there is such a thing, anyway. The houses are older, not very large, and are close to the street, which barely accommodates two cars heading in opposite directions."
Actually that description is exactly what I think of when referring to Clarence, not the Beverly Hills 14032 et al version that many seem to conjure up, even among some of those that live there. If one were to concentrate on getting from here to there without detouring through any of the many subdivisions, the traditional part of town is pretty much all one sees, with an occasional bigger house (that desperately needs fast growing trees) appearing by the side of the road.

Therein also lies a split within the town, with each barely aware of the other in real time. Those who think everyone in town is upper middle class or wealthy most likely just zip down the main roads without a much of a thought towards those who live in the "little houses", while those of more modest means rarely meander through all those rapidly spouting enclaves that house those with different expectations.

Meanwhile the elected officials must try to the best of their ability to represent all the townspeople. Some seem to cover their eyes and hope for the best, others try to reach out to all, and still others alienate with little effort.

More on another day...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Last Fine Time

The time is 1947 and the setting is 722 Sycamore Avenue in Buffalo NY. From there the author takes us back in time and also shows a glimpse of what was to come (I'm not quite finished reading it). While George & Eddie's bar is the center of the universe, the author brings in historical context of the city, the nation, and the world at large. It was shortly after WWII after all.

It's not about life in a bar. It's about the people that exist in this space in time. There is no conversation. Reading The Last Fine Time by Verlyn Klinkenborg is like experiencing time through a kaleidoscope. From one scene to the next the picture comes into focus and then whirls away, to be replaced with another. Detailed pictures formed from words.

A blurb on the back cover by Anne Tyler of the Boston Globe says it all:
"Brings an era to life...All at once, a small, bygone portion of America becomes so real that we seem to be not so much reading about it as drawing it forth from our own memories."
One need not be Polish or have any special special affinity for the east side of Buffalo in the glory days to thoroughly enjoy this book. It's so real that I even had a dream about anonymous people that are glimpsed throughout the book, and I never ever dream about the books I'm reading.

Marvelous book! HT to Joe Buckley of In Other Words for suggesting that I move this up on my to-read list. Thanks!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Darryl Smith - RIP

Clarence alumnus ('73) Darryl Smith passed away March 2, 2009. Rest in peace. From the Buffalo News:

SMITH - Darrell R. March 2, 2009; beloved father of Jeffery (Amy) Barton, Yvonne Smith and Roy Smith; devoted grandfather of Sophia Barton; dear brother of Doug (Jean) Smith and Keith (Louise) Smith; also survived by his girlfriend Sue Williams. The family will be present on Thursday from 2-4 & 7-9 PM at the (Harris Hill Chapel) AMIGONE FUNERAL HOME, INC, 8440 Main Street where funeral services will be held on Friday at 11:00 AM. Mr. Smith was a member of Carpenters Local 289. Please share you condolences at

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