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… 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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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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IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK ALOT LIKE… BLIZZARD

I live in “Buffalo”. I love my four seasons. But in years where three of the four are Winter… I’m not a big fan. There was a recorded blizzard in January. Municipalities shut down. Schools closed. Driving bans were instituted. And the snow blower got a serious work out.

Flash forward to this morning. Conditions right for a recurrence. A second blizzard in a season. Blizzard of 2014a and Blizzard of 2014b. Having “survived” the Blizzard of 1977 and all subsequent snow jobs, I have been tempered to such folly. Who am I BS-ing? I hate this crap. Give me a White Christmas and I’m a happy little elf. But on March 12th, I’m ready for Spring, or what passes for Spring around here. But the Snow Miser is giving us another B-Slap. And we take it (like we really have a choice). It’s days like these that have me missing Jimmy Griffin, former Buffalo Mayor. He had the perfect solution for times such as these: “go home, buy a six pack of Genny (beer), and watch a good football game.”

James D. Griffin

James D. Griffin

Since football season is a few months away, I think giving Genny a great big hug would be a great way to honor the man. But in spite of that I’ll keep thinking this thought. This snow blows!


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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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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!


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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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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?


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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)


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PLANTING THE SEEDS OF FUTURE BLOOMS

It became a decent day to complete the chore of planting the remainder of the flowers in the various beds around the house. Frail and small in proportion to their soon to be abundant color and size. It is pleasing to the eyes.

Gardening relaxes me, much as it quelled my mother’s nerves back in the day. When she had her small spade in hand, she was transported to a more serene place and time. Those mindful adventures helped her. They probably kept her alive longer, with all the ailments she tended to keep private.

So, I come by my love of dirt naturally. And like I said, gardening relaxes me. Which I think is why when my writing partner, Marie Elena Good (from Maumee, Ohio) and I decided to branch out from “Across the Lake” the idea of a verbal garden appealed to me greatly. It was a thought I had held sequestered in the dark recesses of my mind (sometimes a very scary place) which was just waiting for the right time and place. A poetry place with a whole plot full of other like poetic minds planting seed. Seeds of thought that grow into “works of worded wonder”. The best of the best grows into “Beautiful Blooms”. All from a little spark of an idea; a nudge into rhyme. POETIC BLOOMINGS – the name of the place.

It is truly a joint effort. A communal garden. It eases my mind. While my botanical flowers take root and grow, I’ll watch them sprout until the poetry breaks ground and blooms.

Gardening relaxes me.