IT'S JUST ANOTHER DAY

A blog about a life awakened and rejuvenated around Western New York.


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BEING FOR THE BENEFIT OF… WILLIAM McKINLEY

Leon Czolgosz assassinates President William McKinley at the Pan-American Exposition, 1901

A new century was dawning and Buffalo held the spotlight as it hosted the Pan American Exposition in 1901. (See Here, There and Everywhere – “The City of Light” and the Pan American Exposition). On September 6, 1901, U.S. President William McKinley had visited Niagara Falls with his wife before heading to Buffalo, New York for the Pan-American Exposition. The plan was to spend some time greeting the people at the expo.

President McKinley was positioned inside the Temple of Music building at the Exposition, Many people had been waiting for hours in the heat to meet the President. Unfortunately, among those waiting outside was 28-year-old anarchist Leon Czolgosz who had plans to kill President McKinley.

At 4 p.m., the building was opened and the throng of people were funneled into one line entering the Temple of Music building. In an organized fashion, the line of people approached the president. The “visit” was the briefest of moments… a quick hello and shake of the hand and then rushed out the door again.

President McKinley, the 25th president of the United States, was just starting his second term in office and the people appeared happy to get a chance to meet him. But, at 4:07 p.m. anarchist Leon Czolgosz moved into place to “greet’ the President.

Czolgosz held a .32 caliber Iver-Johnson revolver, which was wrapped in a handkerchief.  His covered hand was noticed as he reached the President, It had been a hot day, and many of the visitors to see the President had been holding handkerchiefs so as to wipe the sweat off their faces. 

When Czolgosz reached the President, President McKinley considering Czolgosz’s right hand injured, reached out to shake his left hand. The assassin brought  his right hand up to President McKinley’s chest and then fired two shots.

The Assassination of William McKinley – Wikipedia

The Assassination of President William McKinley – Crime Library

The Last Speech of William McKinley – PBS.org

Images of William McKinley at the Pan American Exposition, 1901 – University of Buffalo Libraries


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HERE, THERE AND EVERYWHERE – THE CITY OF LIGHT AND THE PAN-AMERICAN EXPOSITION, 1901

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The Ethnology Building in the evening
Pan-American Exposition, 1901

 

When you hear the term “City of Light” people presume someone is referring to Paris, France. They would be correct in that assumption, The Age of Enlightenment had Paris as its center of ideas and education. Its intellectual preeminence earned Paris its title as the City of Light. The lighting of its city streets in the last quarter of the 19th century reinforced Paris’s claim on the moniker.

In the early 20th century, the city of Buffalo, New York began calling itself the City of Light. Plentiful hydroelectric power from nearby Niagara Falls helped support that claim, but also because it was the first city in America to have electric street lights. During the 1901 Pan-American Exposition, this was made clearly evident, as the illumination of the buildings and avenues made night time enjoyment of the “world fair” of sorts, a reality. The area where the exposition was held shows very few reminders of this landmark happening during Buffalo’s early days. Interest in the event waned quickly when United States President William McKinley was assassinated while receiving guests at the expo. Anarchist Leon Czolgosz was responsible for killing McKinley and vaulting Vice-President Theodore Roosevelt to the presidency.

The Pan-American Exposition of 1901 played an important part in the development of Buffalo as a city, as it shined a spotlight literally on the “City of Light”

Find more information about the Pan-American Exposition of 1901 at these sites:

Pan-American Exposition – Wikipedia
“Doing the Pan” – The Pan-American Exposition
1901 Pan-American Exposition Buffalo, New York Photos


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WATCHING WALLENDA

Nik Wallenda.

What can you say about him? The guy is insane. He’s nuts. He has a death wish. He is extremely talented, And focused. And driven.

Nik Wallenda is amazing.

My knees knock on an extension ladder more than a story high. They say, “Don’t look down!” I look down and worry about falling and breaking something. What does that say about Wallenda? (What does it say about me?)

To be so sure that’s what you want to do when you grow up is commendable. To achieve your dream is a gift from somewhere way North of the horizon. It’s no wonder Nik Wallenda is so successful at what he does. He’s the seventh generation in the “Family Business”. And he walks with Jesus.

Now this isn’t a religious diatribe. It’s just that from his first step over the gorge that is as deep as the Empire State Building is tall, Wallenda was thankful for every new step forward he was “allowed” to take. And if he were going down, he’d go down with his prayer in his heart. But, Nik Wallenda was held aloft. As you watched (if you watched) his incredible feat, you noticed something. After a while, the high wire disappeared. It blended into the grandeur of the Grand Canyon’s magnificence. And there he was, the Great Karl Wallenda’s great-grandson suspended in mid air walking with the most spectacular view in the house.

Nik

Photo credit: AP

It laughs in the face of the old joke, “Why does Wallenda cross the Grand Canyon (and last year, Niagara Falls)?” It’s obvious. To get to the other side (which was the side this whole trek started on before helicopter whisked him to the starting point!)

Every ending is a beginning, after all!


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BEING FOR THE BENEFIT OF… SAMUEL CLEMENS (MARK TWAIN)

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Mark Twain lived in Buffalo from 1869-1871. This is significant in that it shaped him as a writer and as a person.

His time in Buffalo was the longest period that Twain had lived in one place since early childhood. Buffalo was the first place he lived as a married man, the birthplace of his first child, the first place he owned a home (truth here is his new bride and father-in-law conspired to buy the house, a luxury that a fledgling newspaper man could not easily afford) and the first place that he became co-owner of a newspaper. Buffalo was a place of many “firsts” in Samuel Clemens life.

Though a time of great productivity for Twain, it was also a period of his greatest tragedies. His father-in-law died from cancer and his wife Olivia (Livvy) from Typhoid. His son Langdon died tragically early in his life as well.

There is a collection of his writings from this traumatic period, entitled Mark Twain at The Buffalo Express: Articles and Sketches by America’s Favorite Humorist (Northern Illinois University Press; 1999).

Mark Twain honed his writing acumen in Buffalo during his time as the editor of The Buffalo Express newspaper, (he often collaborated on articles and columns with  Joseph Larned, his co-editor and friend).

For more on Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) click here.

 


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WTF, PEOPLE?

WTF!

I’ll make a broad leap here and assume that you learned something in Driver’s Education. I could be wrong, and you’ve taken every opportunity to prove me so. A refresher course is in order.

It’s red. It has eight sides (I won’t confuse the morons amongst you by calling it an “Octagon”). Big bright white letters (four of them, as a matter of fact. I know you know all about four-letter words) that spell out the word S-T-O-P. Stop! As in “Do not go”. I don’t give a rat’s ass if there’s no one coming or in the intersection. I don’t care what time of the night (or early morning) it is . If the f-ing sign is red, and the f-ing sign has eight sides (an Octagon, very good class) and the f-ing sign says stop, then you FUCKING STOP!

You don’t reduce speed and cruise through, you STOP! Don’t look at me approaching WITH THE RIGHT OF WAY and stare me down until the last possible second and still proceed to pull out in front of me, You STOP.

This isn’t meant to be a race to the next sign you totally ignore. It isn’t supposed to be a race at all. What are you saving? Three seconds of your precious life that could have been spent…what? Flipping off the guy you almost killed because he had the audacity to be on the road when you were cruising the boulevard for God knows what.

So I have become “that” guy. The guy that comes to a complete stop and looks in all directions before even remembering I have a gas pedal. Yes, I’m holding you up and maybe saving your life. I’m the guy that drives the speed limit because I know idiots like you are in a hurry. Yes, I’m the guy slowing you down and possibly saving my own life. With all the modern time-saving devices nowadays, there still seems to never be enough time that we have to rush all over ignoring traffic signs, or other drivers, or pedestrians (those are the people that are walking, morons). Life is not a game of Grand Theft Auto or Fast and Furious. Once they’re dead, mangled or injured, they stay that way!

For two straight days I have had near-misses with the same driver no less, blowing through his red light as I start to advance into my green arrow indicated left turn. Who needs rules! I guess they think they have the “right” to drive with reckless abandon. But, there’s a funny thing about “rights”. Yours end when they infringe on my right to stay alive.

And one more thing (now that you revved my engine). Since when has every driver suddenly become a mathematician? I know the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. But the sprint diagonally across a parking lot is as brainless as the aforementioned rant on the sign. (The red one. Eight-sides, S-T-…).

And these are the wide-awake and sober drivers! I won’t even attempt to open THAT can of worms at the moment.

WTF, people?


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THE LONGEST DAY

Today marks the 69th anniversary of the horrifically bloody battle at Normandy, France.

The Battle of Normandy was waged during World War II in the summer of 1944, between the Allied nations and German forces occupying Western Europe. 69 years later, the Normandy Invasion, (D-Day), remains the largest seaborne invasion in history, involving nearly three million troops crossing the English Channel from England to Normandy in occupied France.

Marines approach Omaha Beach

There were twelve Allied nations that provided fighting units who participated in the invasion. These included Australia, Canada, Belgium, France, Czechoslovakia, Greece, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Operation Overlord was the codename for the Allied invasion of northwest Europe. The establishment of a secure foothold, was known as Operation Neptune. Operation Neptune began on D-Day (June 6, 1944) and ended on June 30, when the Allies had established a strong hold on Normandy. Operation Overlord also began on D-Day, and continued until Allied forces crossed the River Seine.

Click on the above photo for a video about D-Day.

There were several classic Hollywood films about this historic event.

The Longest Day” (1962)

Saving Private Ryan” (1998)

“The Big Red One”  (1980)

“D-Day: The Sixth of June” (1956)

“The Americanization of Emily” (1964)

Also notable was the 10 part HBO series, “Band of Brothers”

 

We honor and pay tribute to the brave service men and women who served with distinction and courage.


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A DILIGENT DIVERSION

Respects paid, and flowers laid into the soil to toil under the sun’s diligent efforts. A quiet stroll through the grounds of Holy Cross Cemetery in Lackawanna, NY. Taking root near where my parents (Mom and Dad, Grandmother and Grandfather) lay in repose, they already are looking colorfully splendid in the cool afternoon daylight. The silence (near-by road noise, not withstanding) makes this a very cerebral place. Thoughts and heart pangs shared in an almost telepathic state. I rue the fact that it is too late to share my achievements in person. But they know. I can feel it. Our connection has stayed strong.

On my way out I stop briefly to re-establish my place to resume the Service project I began a summer ago. I never made it out as planned. Tracking back, I spotted three markers that look untouched. Extracting pad and pen, I begin to record facts engraved in granite and stone, some the lone evidence that these unselfish souls once existed.

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Gold Star Service Banner

I remained working on Section 25 until I had every last man noted and accounted. More awards and another Purple Heart recipient. I even came across a designated Gold Star Mother; she will be included in the tribute! Three men who fought in the Spanish-American War. So much history buried in mystery here. I assume the role of detective, scratching out clues to solve these very divergent puzzles. I must look strange on my hands and knees, clawing and carving sections of sod overgrowing the flat slabs. Moving from grave to grave, with the hopes of saving some pride and sense of dignity for those who have given me the ability to do so. It remains the very least I can do.

Tomorrow is a big day. I will return in love and out of respect for these extraordinary individuals who have served the whole of us.

Thank you for your service.

“Hang Tough”

And “say a prayer for our guys and gals over there!” (Thanks Bob Curran)