Life In The Buffalo Snowbelt

– Can You Tie My Skates?

We had many fun times such as ice skating at the Village Park pond which had a rather rustic cabin and large open fireplace with a warm fire that was kept blazing. Even today when I smell and open fire it reminds me of that place and those wonderful times with friends.

 

 

 

– We Simply Went Out And Had Fun Together!

This is a classic example of what we did in the Winter.  The Village Park on the west side of town had a pond that froze and gave us a great place to get together.  Many in this photo were from the North Federal Street ‘gang’ with others joining us from various neighborhoods and outside of the Village.  Many of us walked there and home… no cell phones or texting to interrupt our fun! Communication occurred via speech – mostly face to face….  imagine that! Life was much simpler in those days.

We all skated until we were tired or cold or both! Our dogs would follow us from home and faithfully stay until it was time to go home.

We knew how to dress for the weather and didn’t wear helmets. We did not sign waivers. If someone fell and got hurt we would help each other out and no lawyers got involved. If someone was hurt too badly to walk home someone would run home to their parents or to the nearest house. I’m not sure whether there was even a phone in that little skating cabin.

Growing up in The Buffalo Snowbelt of Western New York State was an education in values which developed character. My mom taught us the “DRESS TO WALK” mentality in the wintertime. You never knew when you were going to be stranded as most of us were a time or two.

When those snow or ice storms hit we would instinctively check on each other – especially the elderly in our neighborhood. “You should stop to see Miss Roche, offer to shovel her sidewalk and find out if she needs bread or milk”. And we did. Miss Roche and her brother were elderly and in NO shape to do either. After shoveling them out I would walk to “Star Market” half a mile down the road to get what she needed and carry it back. She may have paid me 50 cents or a dollar (and I’m not talking about the Rappers) [and I may have kindly refused it!]. She would be grateful for any help at all. These are the values our parents taught us and that we taught the next generation. We all saw community come out in all of us when storms or disasters hit our little village.

Proximity to The Switch – two blocks to the Northwest.

Leaf Raking at The Gullos

Gullo LeavesThis Northern Small Town has Four Seasons.   Here we were enjoying a very awesome Fall – many old big trees… and leaves like you won’t believe unless you’ve experienced it!  The Village DPW – “Department of Public Works” -had some major work to do in this small town – that of cleaning up the leaves.  Their dump trucks had plows for the Winter snow and large vacuum cleaner-type contraptions to collect the mass amounts of leaves in the Fall.   Village residents raked their leaves to the curbside and the DPW sucked them up and dumped them at a large compost site.  The uncertainty was the timing of the leaves changing color, the trees shedding their entire “coat”, and the DPW getting things cleaned up BEFORE the snow fell – between the persistent rains.  A chore of big proportions.

The occasion here may or may not have been a paying job for us kids.  The property here was a big mansion-like home on Lake Street – a stone’s throw from what we called “The Five Corners”.  Sam Gullo owned it during my 18 years in Perry.  I recall several years when we assisted our favorite local newspaper (The Perry Herald) photographer – Lyle Richardson, with this photo op.  One year we raked the leaves for the photo and walked away… leaving the leaves in a HUGE pile only to kill the grass.  Sam has since forgiven us.

This photo tells quite a story – the dress code here was quite 70′s.  Stripes and plaid were the norm (don’t mix them).  Several families are represented here – Cicero, Ferris, Scott, Beckary, Taylor, Fong, Watson, Otis… and a few unknown.  We didn’t have or know any differences between our families socio-economically, we were friends and knew how to work and play hard together.  Competition came in our games and activities.   Most families had only one car… no cell phones or computers or satellite or cable… and the list goes on.

We would leave our homes and go “to play” with our friends for hours on end and be subject to correction by other parents (with the fear of more correction from our own parents when we got home) for doing something stupid [How would I know?].  We climbed trees, neighbors’ garages, and whatever else we could scale.  The front porch light for a certain family was the signal to get home – fast – and that usually initiated a scattering of the rest of us.  The sun had set, night had come and a new day would be coming soon.

Many good athletes came out of North Federal St – Sam was quite the Tennis player, Christine and Denise played softball, Glenna, Albert and I ran track, Dave and I played soccer.  We all rode our bicycles – it was both a form of exercise and transportation.  We were all fit and in great health.  Obesity was not a word known to any of us.

Proximity to The Switch – 200 yards to the East.