IT'S JUST ANOTHER DAY

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


2 Comments

A FAIR TO GREAT DAY

Erie County Fair

Erie County Fair

Some days are better than others. Today was a better day than most. First, it’s County Fair time in Erie County (Western New York). It still holds an allure all these years even though so much has changed. After 175 years, it sure as hell better have. I’ve always enjoyed the exhibits (and the food) and told myself I would enter SOMETHING at the fair to see how I’d…well, fare. My daughter Andrea has enter photographs in competition and did earn an Honorable Mention ribbon. I figured I’d join her this year. This year, Andrea entered a rather colorful photograph of Niagara Falls, She also experimented with an abstract black and white shot with some interesting colorations incorporated. Her Niagara Falls picture took Second Place in her category. NiagaraFalls2nd I had placed my shots in a “Floral” category and one in “Informal Portrait” The “Floral” entry was the photo of my tea rose with its glowing center and pink highlighted edges. It was taken in series – a daily progression of its growth through the course of a week. From an opening bud to this magnificent bloom the series is capped nicely by this final shot. This earned a Second Place finish as well. TeaRose2nd   The “Informal Portrait” was my photograph of original Beatles drummer Pete Best. He was headlining a show with his Pete Best Band. I had captured this pic up close during his performance and had the opportunity to chat briefly with “The Best of the Beatles”. By my calculations, that’s one degree of separation from John Lennon and I think that is way cool. The Pest Best portrait earned me an Honorable Mention ribbon. All-in-all, a good haul.

PeteBestHM

I’m looking forward to the 176th edition of the Erie County Fair. If I can find the right subject, I’ll try it again. It was a fair to great day.


Leave a comment

HERE, THERE AND EVERYWHERE – BROADWAY MARKET AT EASTERTIME

BUFFALO'S BROADWAY MARKET

BUFFALO’S BROADWAY MARKET

“Bring your car, come and park it. Meet me at the Broadway Market!”

Surveying the Polish Sausages.

Surveying the Polish Sausages.

A Tradition, tried and true. An Old World Market in the heart of the city district of Buffalo, known as “Polonia”. The Broadway Market, a Western New York Landmark, has stood to serve the Polish community for decades. This is the place to be as Easter time draws near. Treats and goodies are found here, and Polish foods have become the staples of  the Swieconka Easter meal. Aromatic Polish sausages (both smoked and fresh) fill the air. The fanciful painted Easter eggs in the Old World style draw the eye and elicits memories of youthful times with family and friends. Breads and butter lambs, and the famous Broadway Market Horseradish, the “bitter herbs” of traditional times all complete the feast. Each food is symbolic in representing Christ’s journey during Holy Week and at Easter.

Easter flowers on display

Easter flowers on display

Easter flowers add their fragrances with Lilies, azaleas, hyacinths, and tulips available amongst others. It is a festival of sorts, as Tony Krew, of Buffalo’s Krew Brothers Polka Band parades down the aisle with his accordion to play polish favorites. But with the times comes mush change as the Market has presumed an International flavor with Middle Eastern fair along with Native American music and even a man with his barrel organ (sans monkey) to complete the scene. 

Much to see at the Broadway Market - Janice picks her Easter lily.

Much to see at the Broadway Market – Janice picks her Easter lily.

Attending the 9:30 mass at the Mother Church of Buffalo’s Polish Community, St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr R.C Church, it was the perfect time for my wife, Janice and I to check out the wares on this yearly Pilgrimage. This week will spell a savory trek to the Polish Mecca, in the shadow of  Buffalo’s New York Central Terminal, for no Easter is truly complete in Buffalo without a visit to the Broadway Market.  IMG_0894

FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT THE BROADWAY MARKET LINK HERE!


Leave a comment

IN CELEBRATION OF FATHERS

Let’s see… I have two Martins, two Walters, two Josephs, a James, a Richard and a John. I celebrate them all today.

The “Martins” are the anglicized versions of the Polish, Marcin (both Great-Grandfathers – Marcin Wojtanik and Marcin Kura).

The succession of Walters ends with me; Walter Francis (Grandfather) and Walter Edwin (Father) broke the name in; I just added some flair.

One Joseph (Great-Grandfather, Josef Jakubowski – Paternal Grandmother’s father) lived well into his nineties (as did many of his progeny). One daughter, Theresa (a Felician Nun – S.M. Consolata) lived days shy of her 100th birthday.

Joseph (Jozef) Kura was my mother’s father. He was my mentor and role model, having spent many hours together in my formative years. A naturalized Polish immigrant, I didn’t know a day without his influence until the day he passed in September of 1974.

James (Maciej) Wasiela was my other Great-Grandfather, (my mother’s, mother’s father). Richard Wojtanik was my Godfather (Dad’s brother) and John Burkowski, my Father-in-law, is the only living celebrant – he is of a diminished capacity in the throes of Parkinson’s and Dementia, but still holding onto this precious life.

Congratulations to my brothers as well: Paul, Tim, Ken (Wojtanik) and Brother-in-law Ray Sahr for carrying on the “tradition”. Happy Father’s Day to every last one!


Leave a comment

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

cropped-twain.jpg

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.

 


Leave a comment

RAISE THE FLAG

It’s my father’s flag. It flew in our yard for years and when he passed and it was lower for the last time, was the final statement of his life.

But now, I have his flag. A corner is a bit tattered, and my intention is to have it repaired and preserved. A noble gesture to some. A frustration for me in that I don’t want to fly it without. Plus, I can’t remember where I had put it since last year.

Picture 094So on this Flag Day, I needed to get a new flag. It’s still the standard under which we live and I love the idea and principals behind it. So I bought a new one, pretty much assuring I will find my father’s flag.

Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone?

Who knew I’d be quoting “Big Yellow Taxi” on Flag Day?


1 Comment

BEAUTIFUL SUNDAY

A smart looking day today. Not overtly warm, but this Sunday holds the charm I remembered as a kid growing up in Lackawanna, New York. Screw the Blue Laws and other random restrictions, it was a guarantee that Sunday was a day of rest. Now I’m not gonna get all biblical on you. That is truly not my style. But after a week of work (with Saturday dedicated to the house and yard) you relished Sunday.

I remember my Grandfather, Josef Kura, a distinguished old (naturalized) immigrant from Igolomia, Poland. He worked in the yard in his later years, various gardens and flower beds; always with a rake or hoe or shovel in hand – the tools of his toil. He dressed in work pants, flannel shirt and ball cap drawn over his eyes. His handkerchief (bandana) hanging from a rear pocket to collect the sweat that beaded on his forehead.  But come Sunday, all that ceased. Dressed in his Sunday best, his going to church clothes – highly polished shoes, pressed pants, white shirt and tie, and a straw fedora perched on his head. This was his uniform for the day.

And it seemed that for a man that worked so extremely hard, it was almost out of character to see him so sedate and relaxed. He was a peaceful man that displayed that persona daily, but dressed for the part each and every Sunday. He rested on Sunday. Today is tailor-made for reminiscing about my mentor. And for kicking up heels and feeling his spirit. I can hear it in the rush of wind. It’s a beautiful Sunday!


Leave a comment

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.

Gold_Star_Service_Banner.svg

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)