IT'S JUST ANOTHER DAY

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


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A DAY IN THE LIFE: AN OPEN LETTER TO BROOKLYN ARIEL

My Darling and Most Precious Angel,

Your name is Brooklyn Ariel and you’ve finally arrived, brought into this world on June 3rd of the year, 2019. This was a day that your “Poppi” had anticipated for some time. Not specifically Jun 3rd, but the day that you would join us. You are very small and won’t understand these words for a while, but I hope you will get the chance to and hopefully cherish their intent.

You were born a special little girl. Your Mommy and Daddy love you very much and they have been blessed with the greatest gift ever. You! And in that, you received a wonderful gift in having them as your parents, parent that wanted you and cared enough to have you. The gift of you keeps paying forward as you are also a blessing to your Grandparents, Grandma Jan and me, “Poppi”; G.G. and Grandpa Michael, Aunt Dre (Andrea) and Uncle Joshua, and a lot of cousins. Even your furry friends are happy you are here. Guinness and Marvel and Roman have taken on the job of watching over you and protecting you.

I can tell you as your “Poppi” that I cried when I heard you were born. They were not sad tears in the least. The birth of you is the happiest day of my life in a long string of happy days that I have seen. So, understand that happy tears are the best thing you could have.

In this short week of your life (as of today, June 10th), you have been an incredible joy and a reason to awaken each morning with a glow in my heart and the hope of seeing your beautiful face, your warm “smile” (even if it is gas), and the gentle sounds that come from deep within you. All of that stems from a contentment that you seem to display every day.

But, as your grandfather – your Mommy’s dad – your “Poppi”, let me offer my hopeful thoughts to you for your growth…

…I wish you could know right now how completely loved you are. There is no greater gift than that. I know one day you will understand this, but for now I hope you can bask in its glow.

…I hope to teach you as much as I can from this store of “knowledge” available to me. Know that “Poppi” is not the smartest guy in the world, but he knows enough to get by! I will try to help you see the promise of each new day, and the beauty of every sunset that graces your days. Whether in the sights they provide or in the words that describe them in the most poetic of ways, I hope you will find the hand of God in everything you witness. I promise to help you.

…I want you to know the music in the world around you. And the music in your very soul. Music is important. It will help you express your joy. It will help you understand your sorrows. It will ease your fears. Music will even make you happy for no reason other that just hearing it. And it will make you dance. Dance and music go together like Brooklyn and Poppi. You are my music. If I have the chance, I will teach you how to play music so you will never be without it. We’ll find your unique song (we each have one inside us) and we’ll dance to that too! And you’ll know the Beatles!

…I hope you never lose sight of who you are and where you’ve come from. It is nice to have nice things. But they will not make your life any better, only flashier. Your imagination will serve you well as long as you don’t get fooled into thinking you were meant to be something or someone you are not. Do not place more value on material things than you do on the people around you. They are your true wealth. They will make you rich in heart and mind, and that’s what is important! Be a good person. Be good to people. You are Brooklyn Ariel. Don’t forget it. And don’t get me wrong. It is ok to have nice things, if they are what you want and what you will work hard for. Things don’t come easily, but you’ll appreciate their worth when you work hard for them.

…Of all the gifts I can possibly give you, there is only one that truly matters; the only thing I can give you in great abundance. That is love. You are so loved, and will continue to be as long as I am able to be with you. Know that love will keep me with you no matter where I am. If given the choice of something of great expense or something as priceless as love, I hope you will know to choose love every time. In the end, love is worth so much more.

You are a beautiful little girl. You will grow to be everything you want to be and were meant to be. People will adore you for being the special person you are and will become. But not nearly as much as your Poppi does. Stay well, grow to be happy and love everything around you and you will be even more amazing than I already believe you are. I will forever carry you in my heart, Brooklyn.

 

With so much love,

Poppi


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BEING FOR THE BENEFIT OF… DAN NEAVERTH

You talk Buffalo radio, and the talk will invariably turn to the legendary Dan Neaverth.

Neaverth began his career in Coudersport, Pennsylvania in 1957, a relatively short distance away from his South Buffalo roots to span a sixty year career for the radio veteran. In the early 60’s, WKBW (1520) had lured him to host the afternoon slot, and to eventually become the morning host. Danny enjoyed “looking at you through the hole in the record”, “moving your fanny in the morning” and “getting up early to be the first kid on the block to say good morning” to his listeners. Neaverth spent 26 years at WKBW until a format change to talk radio led to his termination by the late 1980s.

In an interesting sidebar, as a surrogate for WKBW, Neaverth had the chance to bring The Beatles to Buffalo on February 10, 1964, the day after their appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. It would have been the Beatles’ first concert in North America. Danny did not think it wise to risk the $3500 appearance fee for the then “little known” band and declined the offer. Neaverth would later admit that his move was a mistake.

He moved his talents to WHTT on the FM dial for another long stint, until the economic side of things force Danny off the airwaves again. He had come out of retirement as a part of the revival “WKBW,” but after three years, WWKB’s owner ditched the oldies format again, and Neaverth became “semi-retired”.

Earlier in 2017, it was announced that Neaverth was being brought aboard as an on-air personality at “Buffalo’s Very Own” WECK (1230), hosting a Friday afternoon (3 – 7 PM) oldies program.

Neaverth is a member of the Buffalo Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame and the New York State Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame. It will be good to hear his familiar voice again.

 


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THANKS, BUDDY!

I grew up on radio.

(Big whoop! We all grew up on radio.) But I guess it was the time that stands out more than anything. The influences that we garnered from the artists and songs that we heard in our lifetimes had a hand in molding who we would become. Be it Big Band music of the forties, or the 50’s and the birth of Rock ‘n Roll, the British Invasion and beyond, we were birthed in the sounds we heard.

I was a shy kid. (Very shy, extremely shy.) It was debilitating. (I got better!) But my social interactions were slightly above non-existent! I always seemed to find “friends” in the music that played on my transistor radio. (Those born after 1980, I’ll explain transistor radios in another posting. Think of your Mp3 player’s Great-great Grandfather.) So, I had become ensconced in the music of the early sixties and British Invasion, all the way  through the Woodstock era of Classic Rock. (I remember vividly the moment Ed Sullivan introduced those Beatles guys to the world on that February 9th Sunday night in 1964.)

Here in Buffalo, we had some great radio stations across the dial that offered all the music for which this kid could ask! We had WGR (550) on the lower frequencies of the AM scope. WBEN (930) ruled the mid-dial with WNIA (1230) a bit further up the scale. WYSL (1400) put a strong push against the King of Buffalo radio in the day, the 50,000 watt blowtorch, WKBW (1520) which was heard all up and down the Eastern North American  seaboard. There were others, but these five filled many memories with the music of my lifetime.

But the AM dial became a graveyard with the advent of the stereo quality the FM roster of stations provided. Through many machinations, those above favored channels were resurrected to shades of their former glory. WGR’s format went from music to News/Talk Radio and its current Sports Talk blather.   WBEN went through a stint as an Adult Contemporary radio staion to become what they currently program, News/Talk Radio.  WYSL and WKBW had their transformations as well, with KB holding court as the ESPN affiliate and more sports ga-ga.

Resorting to the above mentioned mp3 player (after the stint with cassette tapes and CD players) I found myself gravitating to the online music services. Pandora, iHeart Radio, Spotify, et al, all offered the music I remembered with great fondness. But it wasn’t the same. Something was missing.

Personality. The music lacked personality. Pre-programmed and sterile were no substitute for what I remembered. And the personalities on the radio in Buffalo were wonderful. Jackson Armstrong, Shane (Shane, Brother Shane) Gibson, Sandy Beach and Don Berns, Joey Reynolds, Tom Donahue, Tom Shannon, Dan Neaverth, Jim Quinn, Fred Klestine, Jefferson Kaye and Don Kobiella (Don Kobiella?). Even the News guys added their character. Jim Fagan, Henry Brach, Jim McLaughlin, John Zach, Joe Downey and the incomparable Irv Weinstein.

WWKB (the reformatted version of WKBW) made a short-armed attempt to resurrect the radio giant a short while back with the best ratings they had since the 1990’s. But with little promotion and a real lack of commitment, the once great 1520 fell to the curb.

Flash forward to 2017. A guy named William Ostrander bought WECK Radio (1230 – the former WNIA). The on-air persona of Ostrander is Buddy Shula, and Buddy seems to be on track to do it right on the Buffalo Radio dial. He’s bringing “Buffalo’s very own” personality back to the music we love. Local radio with local news and local broadcast professionals to replace the pre-programmed “music of your life”.

I, for one am excited to see the advent of “Good Ol’ Radio” done with a new drive. And the names? Tom Donahue will remain the morning show host, bringing on Buffalo radio veteran Gail Ann Huber, coming on board as co-host and the aforementioned John Zach returning to Buffalo airwaves as their news director, anchoring the local CBS News affiliate. Jon Summers, another KB legend steps into the 9-12 spot and Harv Moore “the boy next door”, taking noon to 3:00 PM. Harv’s former sidekick, Robert Taylor (Taylor and Moore) is the on-air branding voice of WECK. Mike Jacobs covers the three to seven slot Monday thru Thursday. And Friday evening from 3-7 will be filled by Dan Neaverth, ready to move your “Friday Fanny”. To top off the night, Buddy Shula will take his turn behind the mic from 7-9. The changes take place on July 10th. This should be interesting to hear. And long over due. My music, the right music, done the right way. Anyway, I think it’s great!

Thanks Buddy!


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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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MAKING MY WAY BACK “HOME”

It’s been a while since I posted here. Situations and circumstances put life clearly on my doorstep. But we persevere. It’s what life is about.

So here I sit, less than two weeks to Christmas 2013. The tree’s up (the SECOND thing that gets my spirit right – the Christmas music that begins on Halloween not withstanding). That sight and those sounds brings the feeling closer to home. Those who know, understand. Losing both parents at Christmas time (mom on Christmas Eve ’86) it takes some doing every year to find my Christmas. It comes around eventually, but it is still a struggle. The girls are grown and all the magic of their wide-eyed Christmases lingers in the shadows. They “will” my spirit to come our and play!

So I am slowly coming home to Christmas. The decorations that have laced our traditions are being put into place. I will be ready.

A little known secret. Every year for twenty-six years, after all have retired to bed, I put on the suit to dress under the tree. All gifts wrapped and brightly adorned are placed beneath by me in the guise of the Jolly Old Guy! They believe because I believe. Even if only for ten minutes once a year on Christmas Eve, I AM the spirit of the Season. I am Santa Claus. We are all Santa Claus.

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For a journey through my Walter-ego, visit my poetry blog, I AM SANTA CLAUS ( iamsantaclaus.wordpress.com )


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LIFE IS A BEACH

Beach7513 004Last day of vacation of a sucky, rainy week, we decided to take a ride to the beach of our separate (but connected) youths. The drive up Route 5 along the lake passed through bright sunshine to overcast skies to smatterings of rain (some downright monsoon like). But we continued on.

Evangola State Park was the place we went for a day of sun and fun, picnic lunches and escape. It remains the same. However, it looks different. Maybe it was just perspective from childhood to the verge of my senior years. But the essence of it was Eerily familiar.

Grabbing the blanket and radio (and with umbrella in tow) we headed through the park to the shore, getting caught in a downpour before our destination. Under a tree, we debated ending the trek and returning home. But, just as suddenly the rain stopped.

Down the ramp to the sand, barefooted and determined, we found the beach deserted. No one, save for the two guards still on duty.Even the gulls were few. The skies changed but our connection stayed strong. As the rays of sun made an occasional appearance, it reaffirmed our believe in a greater power. My wife and I took our leave in the expanse of this Lake Erie shore. Even one day at the beach, albeit a rainy one, was just what the doctor ordered. It was sill a good day!


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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!