Another fine day from our vacation up north last summer... this was the bicycle ride I took from where my mom now lives in suburban Buffalo up to the neighborhood where I grew up. Kind of a (say this with an echoed announcer voice) Journey into My Passssssst!
I rode over to Orchard Park Road and headed north...
...to Harlem Road which would take me north to Cheektowaga.
This is Louie's Texas Red Hots. I've never heard of hot dogs being called Red Hots here in Texas, but in Buffalo that's what they call 'em.
This is where Buffalo Creek and Cayuga Creek come together to form the Buffalo River.
The Polish Villa Restaurant; come get your pierogis! Lots of Poles in Buffalo (including my family).
In case you haven't noticed, that's a garbage truck I'm following; it's trash day.
Hundred-year-old homes, last remodeled fifty years ago.
One of the biggest hills I rode when I was growing up- the bridge over the rail yard.
And the rail yard.
Time to start looking for my past. This first stop was an attempt to find my great-great-grandfather's grave. The graveyard lies right next to the train tracks.
I looked where I thought it should be, but couldn't find it. I found some interesting markers though. A World War I veteran:
And a World War II veteran:
This guy could be related; my great-grandfather listed in his immigration paperwork a Koscielniak as a cousin he would be staying with when he came to America.
Enough graveyards- time for breakfast, a breakfast wrap combo at Tim Horton's. Yum.
Getting closer to my hood. These are post-war homes from the 40s and 50s
Finally, the house I grew up in.
It's seen better days. Looks like it could use a new roof.
This is Mr. Hank. He is the best next-door neighbor ever. He's over 90 years old now, and still pretty active. (That's my parents' old house in the background.)
One of the prominent features in our neighborhood was the volunteer fire hall at the end of the street.
There were three bars that were "staggering distance" from the house I grew up in. Otto's is one of them.
This used to be Waring's Grocery, the corner store where I used to buy bottles of Orange Crush for ten cents. (That's the fire hall in the background.)
Now I will bore you with my academic career. I went to these schools. I started at North Hill Elementary.
Then in fourth grade I switched over to Maryvale Elementary (background), which was next to the library (foreground)
During my childhood, my hometown was reaching its peak population of a little over 100,000. The 50s and 60s saw the building of many schools. Now, both of the schools where I went through sixth grade are no longer public schools. North Hill, I think, is now a private school, and Maryvale Elementary is now a continuing/community education building, and the library is now an archives and records center for the town. The Maryvale School District once had 4 elementary schools; now they just have one. The population of Cheektowaga has dropped to less than 75,000. It ain't what it used to be.
The high school is still in operation, but even there change is evident.
The mascot has always been the Flyers, since they are just west of Buffalo International Airport. But in my day, the Flyer mascot was Snoopy (dressed for flying his Sopwith Camel). They changed over to a Pegasus some time after I graduated; I never forgave them for that. :P
Ack. There's that Pegasus again.
At the end of Maryvale Drive you can look across a parking lot and almost see the airport.
The neighborhood around the school is more post-war houses. I kind of like this style.
Time to head south.
I didn't take too many pictures because the traffic near the airport and on Transit Road can be pretty heavy. Eventually, though, I cut over to Borden Road which is a little more mellow.
This is the Nickel Creek Cafe. It is typical of inns that were built when the area was still rural. Many of these inn/pubs were "gin mills" (a term my mom used) where old men went to get schnockered. Now I guess they are becoming restaurants.
This is "Nickel" Creek I guess. (It's really Buffalo Creek, but the cafe name references the old buffalo nickel.)
By now things are getting more rural and scenic. This is Leydecker Road.
This is scenic Cazenovia Creek.
Still climbing up Leydecker Road.
The building on the right was part of a "grove." Groves were private picnic areas that were rented out for outdoor events during the summer. My dad was a member of several clubs and fraternal organizations that held summer picnics at groves.
There was usually polka music, beer on tap, pop for the kids, grilled hot dogs, burgers and chicken, maybe a pony ride, and a sawdust pile. The idea behind a sawdust pile is they would put a bunch of money in it and we kids would dig through and try to find as much as we could. We would be put in by age, and they would restock the nickels, dimes and quarters in between age groups. The older kids didn't go in for such kid stuff though; instead, once we got to a certain age, it was more fun to sneak off down to the creek (groves always seemed to have creek access) and catch crawfish (pronounced "crayfish") and take them home as pets (but they never lasted very long).
I don't think too many of the old groves are still open. I think the popularity of the Knights of Columbus, Fraternal Order of Eagles, and other groups my dad belonged to has waned, and the family picnics are less common, so the groves now sit idle.
And there you have it- my personal trip down memory lane. I could be wrong in some of my memories, but I like them that way. ;)