Friday, December 30, 2011

Samuel Nappo RIP

Clarence alumnus ('64) Samuel Nappo passed away 12/23/2011. From the Buffalo News:

June 27, 1945—Dec. 26, 2011
Samuel F. Nappo of Clarence, the owner of a local advertising and printing company, died Monday while visiting family in Rock Hill, S. C. He was 66.
Born in Buffalo, he was raised in Clarence and was a 1964 graduate of Clarence High School. He served in the Army from 1965 to 1967 and was stationed in Korea.
Mr. Nappo was the owner, president and chief executive officer of Community Advantage, a Clarence based business that specializes in coupon mailings and place mat advertising. Prior to that, he owned a company called Bulletin of the Week, and he printed Catholic church bulletins.
He was a member of St. Mary’s Parish in Swormville and was an usher at the church.
He is survived by his wife of 25 years, the former Karen S. Salzer; two daughters, Joelle Toner and Samantha; a son, James Anzalone; and a sister, Marie Mohring.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10:30 a. m. Saturday in St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 6919 Transit Road, Swormville.

NAPPO - Samuel F. Suddenly on December 26, 2011, beloved husband of Karen (nee Salzer) Nappo; devoted father of Samantha Nappo, Joelle (Donald) Toner and James (Darcie) Anzalone; loving "Poppy" of Donny, Nicole and Madeline; dear brother of Marie (Geoffrey) Mohring; son of the late Samuel J. and Mary (nee Scimia) Nappo; brother-in-law of Karleen Salzer; also survived by aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews. The family will be present on Thursday from 6-8 PM and Friday from 4-8 PM at the (Amherst Chapel) AMIGONE FUNERAL HOME, INC., 5200 Sheridan Drive (corner of Hopkins Rd). A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Saturday at 10:30 AM from St. Mary's Church, Swormville. Please assemble at Church. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society or Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. Please share condolences online

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011


If you read the Buffalo News lately, you might be aware that Clarence alumnus ('99) Chad Michael Murray has written a graphic novel (intense comic book) called Everlast. While he will be at the Barnes & Nobel on Niagara Falls Boulevard tonight at 7pm signing copies, you can pick one up now if standing in a long line potentially filled with giggling females isn't your thing.  I got my copy last night.

Not having had the time to do more than glance at a few pages quickly, I have no in-depth review to offer, but that won't stop me from making a few quick comments:

- The idea for the story line came from a conversation with and/or literature left by a familiar door to door religious organization...He answered the door???

- That said, most ideas for stories come from random observations, and the subject matter lends itself to an excellent "What if..." scenario.

- I had read some conjecture online that Murray is merely expanding his public footprint, however that seems a bit cynical to me.  In my opinion, he was able and is motivated to do something that really interests him, and that's always a good thing and worthy of support.

- In the picayune category, I would have preferred a soft cover instead of the hard cover style...more comic bookish...

Everlast is available in bookstores and online (where it's less expensive)...Who knew that B&N online was separate from the store and had different abilities to price things?  Fewer real people to employ, more computerization...Support a brick n mortar bookstore and go pick up a copy of Everlast!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Richard Wood RIP

After an accident at home, Clarence alumnus ('71) Richard Wood has passed away. Rest in Peace.

WOOD - Richard H. Suddenly December 19, 2011; dear father of Correy R.; beloved brother of Jayne Wood (Sue Stanislawski); stepfather of Cheryl (Matthew) Rejewski, Robin Suffoletta and Jayson O'Donnell (Rev. Paul Lillie); step-grandfather of Noah, Olivia Zachewicz, Darien, Braedon Suffoletta; uncle of David Magoss. Friends may call Thursday 3-8 PM at the DENGLER, ROBERTS, PERNA FUNERAL HOME, 8630 Transit Rd., East Amherst (one mile north of Maple Rd. just past Klein Rd.) where funeral will be held Friday at 11 AM. Flowers gratefully declined. Memorials may be made to Mercy Flight, 100 Amherst Villa Rd., Buffalo, NY 14225.

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Discards: An Epilogue (Goodell & Mulberry Streets 1956)

As a wee lad William Robert came to America with his family in 1914 from the area of United Kingdom now known as North Ireland (which was not established until 1922). His father's birthplace was Drumfin, over in the Catholic part, and I'm not so much guessing that things were a bit unsettled there, what with a War of Independence to start in 1916.

Father Adam already had 3 brothers and 3 nephews here (and a sister in Oregon), so Buffalo was a natural destination for the family, which included 8 children. William Robert was the youngest.

Somewhere along the line William Robert bought a camera and started taking pictures.  The slides that came into my possession were all dated 1955-1957. Most were scenery type shots, and I forwarded them on to folks who might appreciate them more, but I kept a few.

Even though these have family in them, they are distinctive also for the dense neighborhood that once existed in the area of Goodell and Mulberry Streets, stretching on down to Virginia and all points around.  It's now known as the start of the Goodell ramp onto the Kensington Expressway.  The rest has been leveled....Urban "Renewal"...been "shovel ready" for nigh on 50 years now...

Back in the 50's a service station was located at 223 Goodell at Mulberry. The family lived nearby and many members worked there at one time or other.  May have even owned it for all I know, seeing as Father Adam's brother Arthur once owned a gas station at 179 Ellicott at the turn of the century.  Gave jobs to his brothers and nephews when they first came to America...another story there.

Anyway, I had hoped the slides would turn into better pictures, but having chosen convenience over perfection, it is what it is....A blast from the past...

William Robert passed away in 1987, the last of his siblings.  I wish I could say that I remembered them better, but since they were my grandfather's cousins, you can guess where that went...But at least these slides were someone's discards these past 24 years, so that they could become treasures again!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Discards - Part 3

My grandfather's cousin,William Robert, came to America with his family as a wee lad in 1914. He was the youngest of 8 children, and would be the last to pass on. Unmarried, he and his sister Lydia bought a home on Perry Street in the 1950's. After his passing in 1987, the house appears to have been left to a nephew, who in turn somewhat signed it over to someone else (possibly a family member).

I say "somewhat" because for some reason the deed may have had an error and the name never actually switched over for the purpose of tax rolls and other legal  type matters such as housing inspections. Eventually the taxes were no longer paid and the house was sold at a City foreclosure sale to an acquaintance. Before it was sold again, same process, I was able to go in and take a few pictures, gather a few mementos.  A lot of the original contents had remained.

Previously, a portion of an article in ArtVoice, "No Vacancy", seemed to be describing the home, so I saved the link, and now have added pictures. Although the damage was mostly in the middle, not front, of the house (as in the 3rd paragraph of the article), it just fits, even if not the same. The pertinent part:

"Tracy Krug and Kevin Coyne act as Comerford’s sheriffs. They spend their days cruising the streets of the city checking on problem properties, helping Comerford decide whether a building is in need of demolition. In Buffalo’s most blighted neighborhoods, they have become familiar faces.

“People get to know you,” Krug says. ”The first thing they ask when you get out is, ‘When are you knocking it down?’”

One afternoon this summer, Krug and Coyne pull up to a Perry Street residence... The yellow house has a locked gate blocking Krug and Coyne from getting to the side door, the only way that it is safe to enter. The floor in the living room, where the front entrance is, is so weak from water damage that it might not support their weight.

Coyne takes the fence off the post with a hammer and they proceed to the side door.
The weeds in the backyard grow as high as the roof of the garage.

Inside, the smell of mold is pervasive. Water has been leaking through the roof and the ceiling in the living room has been crumbling onto the floor.

In the basement, buckets, lawn chairs, and pieces of wood float on over four feet of standing water. Only four of the steps that lead into the basement are visible. The water almost reaches the bottom of the windows (drained at time of picture).

Coyne travels upstairs to check the condition of the attic. Cardboard boxes filled with collectibles, pictures, and old newspapers are scattered about.

“All this cardboard makes this a fire hazard,” Coyne says.  That’s an important diagnosis: The danger posed by so many flammables in an unattended building may allow the Office of Inspections to expedite the house’s demolition.

Krug and Coyne exit the house, screw plywood over the side entrance, and put the fence back on its post. They return to the office to file paperwork on the Perry Street home and others that they had visited that day to be submitted to Comerford or housing court. Next week will be much the same."
Found amid the wreckage (most of it induced by kids and also the latest owner, while looking for salvageable items, some of which was given to me) was a tray, lovingly inscribed from one sister of William Robert to another...

At one time these bookshelves were filled with National Geographics and other books that ended up in a crawl space on the 2nd floor (seen on a slide labeled as a test for the flash)...

The top book by Horatio Algier flipped right out of my hand when I tried to look at it...William Robert must have wanted his childhood books to go down with the ship, as it were...

The remnants of lives well lived are now destined for a landfill, most likely. I went by there yesterday and windows were all completely smashed out, the gate removed, and even the top of the tree in front had broken off.  Our treasures may become someone else's discards (hopefully a little more gracefully), but as long as they give us comfort and while here to enjoy them, that's what matters the most.  And life goes on...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Discards - Part 2

When the elderly brothers across the street passed away (hours apart), their niece took responsibility for clearing their possessions and selling the house...After securing important documents and whatever else she may have wanted to keep, she threw open the doors with an invitation for all to take whatever they wanted for free. A few hours later the furniture was gone, along with assorted tools, food items, and other miscellany.

Most of what was left would be tossed into the big blue refuse bin out front.  However, on the walls were many family pictures....2 handsome young men in their military uniforms...their older sister who had passed years before....their mother....and many other memories that were dear to the recently departed.

The niece was near tears as she looked at the photos. After having closed down a few other houses of relatives in recent years, her basement and attic were full of family memories.  "My kids don't want this stuff...I don't know what to do". Eventually, she packed up the pictures and took them home, hoping that her own children would be as gentle when their time came to sort through the memories.

Down the street, a recent widower had moved into a senior apartment.  The big double was too much, and maybe the memories made him feel even more lonely.  No kids, so a company was called in to hold a sale and otherwise disperse of the accumulation of a long marriage As they were pricing items they came across the wedding album and quickly called to see if the gentleman had overlooked it. room even for what he took with, no room for more.  Sad.

An older gentleman with a young man's heart used to come into work every year, maybe twice if he was downtown.  He always wanted a manila envelope to keep papers in.  After being a jerk about it once, I came to realize that he was also a bit young in mind also...a slight mental disability, I guess...I gathered up my (occasionally missing) compassion, and always had an envelope or two ready for him when I saw him come in.  He always rewarded with with a huge smile :D

The last time I saw him, there was time for more conversation, and he rewarded me even more by sharing memories of Vaudeville, of Allen Street, his uncle the magician, and how he used to help backstage when he was young.  He had the programs from back then, photos...I haven't seen him since, and it's been a few years, after being a regular for over twenty.  I wonder what happened to him...if he's living in a senior apartment somewhere, if he passed on....I also wonder what happened to his memories, his prized possessions, stored so carefully in his envelopes...

More later...

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Discards - Part 1

Lately it has been stated via various sources that there are 12,000 vacant houses in the City of Buffalo. While not necessarily saying that the number is wrong, I'm somewhat curious as to how that figure was generated. Tax bills being returned as "undeliverable" may have an incorrect mailing address, as much due to an input error as unforwardable for whatever reason (those mechanical sorters are just soooo efficient *sarcasm*).  There are many homes with unpaid taxes that have people living in them, and many vacant buildings that are paid in full (one way around massive attention from inspectors/housing court for "investors").  Was a hand count done? Does it include apartments buildings/former hotels/rooming houses? Business type buildings?

Whichever method was employed, whatever the number, there are undeniably many vacant houses, and many vacant lots that used to have a home on them. Back in the early 1900's there were houses crammed into every available green space except in the more well-to-do enclaves (and where Olmsted carved out territory).

There were those with a storefront where the proprietor and family lived upstairs.  There were doubles that people built so family members could be close, not to rent to strangers.  Cottages were stuck behind larger homes as a place to live while building the main house, later for family or income. There were houses slapped up by factory/business owners so that employees could live nearby, transportation not being what it is today. Either they were rented or sold to the workers, with payments coming out of paychecks.  No one ever thought that they would still be standing more than 100 years later, but they are. That's not even getting into all hotels thrown up to house people during the Pan-Am Exposition that later turned into apartment/rooming houses, or those built expressly to rent to the masses.

Not everyone raced to the suburbs as a symbol of better financial circumstances, or to escape the "big, bad city" and its ever changing occupants (aka "those people" who could be a different race, ethnic group, religion, and just plain different).  Many times it was like a rolling wave as city planners in their "wisdom" declared vibrant areas "slums" in a bid to clear away the less well off with funds garnered via Urban Renewal to create "shovel ready" sites.  A still well-known mayor cleared out his entire childhood neighborhood, perhaps to erase the roots of his humble beginnings, perhaps to also show he wasn't being prejudiced when the black neighborhood was mowed down to...perhaps a little of both...near downtown don't ya know, and the powers that were wanted people downtown, just not those less fortunate people.

Housing projects were planned as a substitute (whoopee) and those that didn't like it could just leave, and so they did. Usually they just moved a bunch of blocks over to a different area, but in the process, people who were already there then also moved to a new neighborhood, and so it went, with spillover to the suburbs.  The I190 threw areas into disarray and the Expressways Kensington and Scajaquada ripped the heart out of some more. And then there were the riots that cleared out some more.  Many reasons, same results.

That's a lot of places that people called "home" and filled with their hopes, dreams, and later, their memories. Now many are abandoned or neglected, the discards.

More tomorrow....

Monday, November 7, 2011

Charles Orts RIP

Clarence alumnus Charles Orts ('72) passed away October 31, 2011. May he rest in peace.

From Childs Funeral Home:

Charles Orts
Date of Birth: February 24, 1953       Date of Passing: October 31, 2011

Place of Birth:Buffalo, New York
Place of Passing:Erie County Home
Resided in:
  Akron, New York
  Mr. Orts was a truck driver for Serafino Trucking in Depew, N.Y. Retiring after a brief illness.
  Dear father of Jennifer Orts of Clarence, NY, Kimberly (James) Fromwiller of Middleport, NY, Amy (Joseph) Newkirk of North Carolina and Jacob Orts of Akron, N.Y. Grandfather of Kathleen and James Fromwiller and Noah Newkirk, brother of Carl (Maria) Schory of Grand Island, N.Y. and Barbara Mayer of Alaska.
Viewing info:
  Family recieved friends on Friday from 2-4 PM in the Childs Funeral Home, LLC 10 Eckerson Ave. Akron, N.Y. Where services followed at 4 PM. Rev. Gregory Hall, pastor of the Clarence Presbyterian Church, officiated.
  Evans, New York

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Joyce Krause Phelan Kuhns RIP

Clarence alumna ('73) Joyce Krause Phelan Kuhns passed away on October 14, 2011.  May she rest in peace.

KUHNS - Joyce Elizabeth (nee Krause) Of New Hope, PA, died peacefully, surrounded by the love of her family on Friday, October 14, 2011 at Hahneman Hospital in Philadelphia. She was 56. Born in Clarence, NY on June 20, 1955, she was the daughter of the late Richard and Elizabeth Krause of Clarence, NY. After graduating from Clarence High School in 1973, Joyce earned her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees with honors in cell and molecular biology from the University of Buffalo in 1978 and 1980. She was employed as a senior research scientist with Bristol-Myers Squibb in the department of pre-clinical drug discovery since 1990. She was the loving wife of the late Stephen C. Kuhns of Austin, TX. She will be sadly missed by her two sons, John Phelan of New Hope, PA and Brian Phelan of State College, PA; her stepson Jesse Kuhns of Austin, TX and his wife Clarissa and their son Jesse. In addition, she is survived by her first husband Kevin Phelan of Clarence, NY, and her sister Barbara Krause and her partner Joe Pelino of Clarence, NY. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in her name to Fisherman's Mark, 89 North Main Street, Lambertville, NJ 08530.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Save St. Adalbert Basilica!

Despite being self-sustaining, Bishop Kmiec has ordered the shutdown of St. Adalbert Basilica on Stanislaus Street.  The last day as a full time church is scheduled for this upcoming Sunday. The people strenuously objected, much to the dismay of those who prefer to believe that demographers and the bishop can do no wrong.  As fast as the signs went up, some people felt a need to tear them down.  Ha...missed one...

Painting for Preservation did its last Art-In to bring attention to the plight of the devastated parishioners, and as a show of support. You can read about it in the Buffalo News, as well as view a few pictures here. Note the scaffolding...the people haven't given up.

It was a beautiful day, and wonderful homemade food and music were provided by the parishioners for all to enjoy. The keyboard player also played the sax, and as I was wandering down a side street she let loose with a plaintive solo that just seemed fitting, echoing through the quiet neighborhood.

There is an Ethiopian Orthodox Church across the street, and a few streets over I spotted some new domes peeking up over the houses. Later on I went over to check it out...

...and did a little research once I got home. While the main church is now a mosque/school (other building appears unused), the Holy Mother of the Rosary Polish National Cathedral was built in conjunction with St. Adalbert...sort of...Seems that back in the day the parishioners got in a bit of a battle with each other, things got ugly. Then the Diocese tried to dictate the outcome...some things never change. From my favorite church history site (click on link to read the rest):
The seat of the Buffalo-Pittsburgh Diocese of the Polish National Church, former parishioners of St. Adalbert's Church on Stanislaus Street founded the church after a period of discord resulted in their departure. Throughout the early years of St.Adalbert's, constant turmoil existed among the immigrant congregation. Some of the members were at odds with the Catholic Diocese over who controlled the property and buildings which they had built and maintained through their contributions. On 27 July, 1895 after an extended period of violence and bloodshed, the church enlisted the assistance of police in having thediscontented parishioners removed from church property. After their dismissals, they banded together and purchased property on Sobieski Street. On 8 August, 1895 they celebrated their firstmass on the vacant lot.
After enduring throughout the years, St. Adalbert should be saved and savored, not merely somewhat preserved, to gradually fade away. The faithful should be rewarded, not shunted off to another parish. Multiple priests staff the moneyed...surely some could be spared where the need is greater....Save St. Adalbert Basilica!

Anyway, the Art-Ins are done for the season, however samples of the artistry produced will be on exhibit at the Statler Hotel during the National Preservation Conference.  Until next year...

Friday, September 9, 2011

Peter Naples RIP

Peter Naples ('72) passed away last Sunday. I remember Pete, although the last mention of see of him via yearbooks is from our freshman year. Whether he went on to a different school or had different goals, I'm unclear, however I know he made an impression on everyone he met....and that's a good thing! Rest in peace, Pete.

Peter J. NAPLES Jr. 

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NAPLES - Peter J. Jr. September 4, 2011 at age 58, beloved son of the late Peter J. and Virginia (nee Curran) Naples, Sr.; dear brother of Daniel, Gregory (Joyce), Charles (Marina) and the late Marc and Nancy Ann Naples; cherished uncle of Darcy, Denise, Donna and Marc; also survived by one great-niece and one-great nephew. The family will be present on Friday from 4-8 PM at (Harris Hill Chapel) AMIGONE FUNERAL HOME, INC., 8440 Main St., where prayers will be offered on Saturday at 9:15 AM followed by a Mass of Christian Burial celebrated from Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church at 10 AM. Friends invited. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made toNational Kidney Foundation . Share your condolences

(photo is from the Clarence HS Class 1969 yearbook; let your mind's eye color in red hair)

Friday, August 26, 2011

St. Mary's on the Hill - The End

Somewhere someone is smirking, fully delighted that St. Mary's on the Hill is finally gone...Hey jerk, you can retire now...Yep, a lot more damage has been done since these pictures were taken a few days ago...

Once concern was documented that the rectory...that roof way in back to the right (above)...was in hazardous condition...

...the bulldozers were out in force knocking down...the church......and then the school...

...before finally getting to the rectory. No reuse plan good enough for naysayers, no investigation into the feeble handoff from one slumlord to another...Well, there were a few of those...good intentions, bad intentions (no, I didn't forget who gutted the interior), same results... Maybe someone has big plans.  Maybe make a duty-free on that corner, sell it to the PBA, or better yet, a parking lot for the armory people....nothing against the armory, understand!

The Connecticut Street Armory is right next door, which was rebuilt after a fire...lived a few blocks away when that happened....a little suspense wondering if there were explosives inside...

The remains of the bell tower from a different angle....(yes, I like those window-framed shots)...

More photos from Tuesday evening here...I was fortunate to be there at the same time as Stan and Beth, so I walked around a bit more than I may have on my own. If you ever wondered what a gutted church looks like...

Curious that there's no word from any of the former parishioners.  Maybe they were all in their 90's and their grandkids could care less.  Maybe they did the grief thing in 1995 when it closed and don't want to look back.  Turned the Church Home and Hutchinson Chapel on Rhode Island and Busti out to pasture too, with no grass...How cold.

Pity no one ever told all the people who gave their blood, sweat, and tears to build beautiful places of worship that in the future the church "leaders" would scoff at their efforts...."it's only a building"...

Pictures from a few years ago, through the demo of the bell tower in pouring rain to the above pictures are here, also with a link on the side.  I'll probably be adding a few more from the Memorial/Protest Art-In tomorrow morning, so check back.

Until then, hum along with the Doors...this is The End...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Fairfield Library

I almost hesitate to call this gem the Fairfield Library, because it isn't a library anymore...

...even though there are still books on the shelves...

As a matter of fact, it's for sale by the City of Buffalo, if you know anyone that wants it and can work their way through the hurdles set up to prevent poor ownership.  Problem is, the City isn't the best owner either. Apparently the neighbors have taken it upon themselves to cut the grass, tend the gardens, and pick up.  Read more on Painting for Preservation.

Originally it was a Unitarian Church, intended as an easier place to attend, back in the day when transportation was always an issue. Eventually they merged back with the main church on Elmwood.  Then the Lutherans  moved in, but they were busy building a bigger church, so they moved on also. Sort of a starter church I guess, of which there are a few that I know of, but the rest weren't designed by prominent architect William Sydney Wicks. It still has the bones of a church, from the front view, the side entrance, the windows, the stained glass (see books picture above), and so on.

 ...the roots of that black walnut tree may take over, left unattended...

Anyway, then the City took the church over, made it a library, and the rest is history, so to speak.

There are a few ideas floating around out there for potential reuse: a community lending area, or an art school, or a combination of the two. My own thought revolved around making it trendy residential with an open floor plan, perhaps with a home office in the basement area, which is probably already finished, judging from the staircase going downwards.  The choir loft would make a nice sleeping area too...wouldn't even have to add a spiral staircase! Alas, I think a large obstacle is the heating bill.  Probably not very energy efficient, although if someone were to go green, the angles for solar panels might be ideal.

On a fine summer morning, however, the library preened for the artists gathered around...

Still beautiful, still dignified, after all these years...