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



With the spotlight shining brightly on the soon-to-be, bride-to-be, I think it only fitting to present the other bookend, my daughter Andrea. (She prefers AN-DREE-YA, call her ON-DRAY-A and there’ll be much hell to pay). As you can sense, she is a lethal combination of beauty and brawn – an attitude a mile long and wide, and there’s no hiding the fact that my Andrea is Sassy! (Her self- proclaimed moniker) And she backs that up every time.

Maybe it’s just a defense mechanism, but she says what’s on her mind and means what she says. The “sass” comes naturally. But this “Little Darlin'” has a tender side (which unfortunately she doesn’t let out of its cage very often), which is being displayed as we near the marriage of her sister, Melissa. Andrea was so thrilled when asked to be Maid of Honor, and she lavished her older sister with gifts and all the attention deserving a teacher and mentor.

She has a playful repartee with her soon-to-be Brother-in-Law, Ryan, with neither passing the opportunity to nudge and cajole on many topics, but most decidedly – Ice Hockey and Music.

IMG_0058She loves ice hockey, and has a devotion to the local heroes (?), the Buffalo Sabres in general and her favorite #57. She spouts statistics and minutia that would have rivaled my mindless baseball trivia in my halcyon days. At last count Andrea has amassed 9(?) Sabres hockey jerseys and a Colorado Avalanche sweater. (Gabriel Landeskog is a god – IHHO!)

And there is no mistaking, the two sisters are as different as night and Pop Rocks. Melissa, always the levelheaded one, knew where she wanted to be and got there. Andrea has an idea what she wants and will know when she gets there. I have no doubt she will. My wife admonishes our youngest, “If you were my first born, you’d be an only child!” Knowing the headstrong nature of my Taurus, we all realize that’s a lot of bull. She would have emerged no matter what.

As she says, “Dad, timing is everything!”

As Andrea steps to the forefront, I tend to agree with her.

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Iris Gaines: You know, I believe we have two lives.
Roy Hobbs: How… what do you mean?
Iris Gaines: The life we learn with and the life we live with after that.

                             ~ Dialogue from “The Natural”

Movies if well made, stand the test of time. In this Baseball classic based on Bernard Malamud’s novel, “The Natural”, the hero Roy Hobbs steps out of a self-imposed obscurity to become the best ball player in the game. The lessons learned in a lifetime of learning gave Hobbs the basis for a new future after baseball.

The stadium and other venues around Western New York, became the backdrop for many of the scenes in the movie, The Natural.

With big names like Robert Redford, Glenn Close, Robert Duvall, Kim Bassinger and Darren McGavin setting up shop here, Buffalo took on an almost surreal sense. Seeing familiar sites portrayed as clearly as day on the big screen, gave Buffalonians (auto-correct wants to change this to Babylonians) another sense. It gave them a sense of pride.

War Memorial Stadium (the “Rockpile”) became Knight’s Field, home of the fictitious New York Knights. The original home of the Buffalo Bills of the AFL, and long-time home of the Buffalo Bison Baseball club, the “Rockpile” took on legendary status here (as did the Memorial Auditorium, “The Aud”, where the Buffalo Sabres – ‘NHL’ and the Los Angeles Clippers (as the Buffalo Braves ‘NBA’) had their beginnings.)

The “Hotel Ellicott” in the movie changed the function of the Ellicott Square Building. ESB is an office complex which at the time it was built hailed as the largest office building in the world. The site also claimed the first dedicated movie theater known to exist. It was named for Joseph Ellicott, the purveyor who planned the then Village of Buffalo.

My favorite building in the area, the Buffalo Central Terminal stood in for the Chicago Train Station, with interior scenes captured there.

The candy shop where Roy Hobbs and his girl Iris meet while the Knights are in Chicago, is in reality The Parkside Candy Shoppe keeping its name and function, although losing its location on Main Street in Buffalo.

Buffalo’s All-High Stadium doubled as Chicago’s Wrigley Field during the filming of “The Natural”.

The NYC Maternity Hospital that Roy Hobbs was taken to was “portrayed” by the Buffalo Psychiatric Center. The center currently is not open to the public. Crazy, right?

Other memorable scenes in the film include: South Dayton, New York as the Water stop / Carnival where Roy strikes out “The Whammer” on three pitches as the Hobbs Family farm found its location in Stafford, New York.


Other films had their origins in and around Buffalo, but not to the scope of “The Natural”. It shined a bright light on the city and people of Buffalo and the surrounding area.

For more in-depth descriptions of these locales,

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Bob Curran was one of my favorite columnists when I was finding my way in life. Writing for the Buffalo (Evening) News, Bob was a decorated combat veteran in World War II. His “Curran’s Corner” column was consistently a tribute to veterans everywhere and through it he had championed many veteran causes. His trademark…  his tag line, encouraging words for his brothers in arms was “Hang Tough”.

BobCurranOf his articles, I loved the snippets of truth he would present under the above title, “It’s one of those opinionated days…” The news of the day can elicit many emotions ranging from compassion to down right frustration with the world at large. It is easy to draw upon these to fester a muse or pose problems; it’s a lot harder to “rage against the dying of the light”; presented as opinion and taken as “fightin’ words”. But to the contrary, those voices be damned. Have your say, but don’t shove your beliefs and vision down my throat (or up the old “Eerie Canal”). Thank you Bob Curran for your service and your common sense approach to dealing with the world. But back to the subject.

It’s one of those opinionated days…

…What ever happened to common courtesy? I remember helping hands extended in the guise of brotherhood,and having four fingers and a thumb, not just a single digit. These days the return of the “Me” society, the “Hurray for me, screw everyone else”, seems more prevalent than a polite, “Can I give you a hand?”

… I remember a little thing that was displayed after e150px-Sealofgoodpracticevery show that aired on television called “Television Code Seal of Good Practice”.  It meant that what was viewed carried a responsibility with it. Family friendly fare and some socially redeeming values. Those were the days.

mayberry…In that vein, it seems the world could use more Mayberry and less Honey Boo Boo.

…Does anyone play the “Star-Spangled Banner” at the end of the broadcast day anymore? With endless infomercials on the air, does the broadcast day even end anymore?

…Reality was every day living; the hardships and joys of life dealt with in dignity and not some scripted adventure show about living in the wilderness, or having babies in your formative teen years. Stars dance (big whoop), and dive (bigger whoop), and race and walk and so on, ad nauseum. REAL people fall on hard times, lose jobs and become homeless, some contract diseases like cancer and AIDS and heart disease, and some even die from them. But I guess such topics are too harsh for a viewing audience.

…Thank a veteran for their service. The freedoms we share (and sometimes abuse) are hard won through their sacrifice and bloodshed.

…We used to care for our elderly and infirm. It became a family responsibility to pick up this gauntlet and carry on. Financial burdens are understandable, but we seem too ready to put our aged into facilities and forget them to carry on with our self-important lives. And so it goes.

…There was a time when crime rates were down and respect for law enforcement was up.

…Does anyone write new music anymore, instead of just talking over someone else’s proven success? Does a lyric carry more meaning by adding the word “fuck” or “mother-fucker” to it? My naivete is obviously showing.

The opinions expressed above have been fermenting for a long while, and appear less relevant in today’s society. When we give governments full control of our lives it is easy to not live (and believe we’ve never had it better). I guess it’s best that I bury my head back into the sand and dream of Bob Curran and the “good old days”. Life just seemed to be more valuable then.

“Say a prayer for our guys (and gals) over there!”

Hang tough!

God rest you, Bob Curran!

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Chance to squint at a sky so blue that it hurts your eyes just to look at it. …”
~ Burt Lancaster as Dr. Archibald Graham from “Field of Dreams”

Blue skies. Incredibly blue. This second day of May in Buffalo plays out this way. Certainly, it made it very hard to not feel a “sick day” coming on and just enjoy it. I caught glimpses through the overhead windows at the shop. Basking in the radiance as I wander past the gaping garage door, a random distraction that needed no excuse to occur.

The Buffalo Baseball Bisons (no other sports team in the city carries the nickname anymore, but you grow up hearing things, they become legend!) play in the evening, but how perfect would the horizon look from third baseline seats. I’d even forgo the “dog and a beer” (I’m not a communist, I just need to watch myself) for the chance to view that sky from such a prestigious perch.

Not a cloud. Just the blueness of blue! And faint stripes of airplane vapor trails wafting to obliteration on the odd occasion. You’ve seen this scene on Hawaiian travel brochures, and Myrtle Beach flyers. But this is Buffalo. The Fran Ciel Ice Cream stand is open for business, they’re playing ball at Coca-Cola Field and it does truly NOT suck. Skies so blue…

My eyes hurt!