A Bridge Too Quiet

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I never understood the lure of trains. Don’t get me wrong. I love trains. I just can’t figure out why. I mean, I was born at the dawn of the Space Age, watched Star Trek when it was still on the air and followed NASA’s lunar program with diligent pride. Heck, I even majored in physics and astronomy, served on the Strasenburgh Planetarium’s 40th Anniversary Task Force and created an official astronomy outreach project (AstronomyTop100.com) that received the official endorsement of the United Nations during the International Year of Astronomy in 2009.

Many were the times when I thought I was finally done with trains. But, like the mob to Continue Reading “A Bridge Too Quiet”

Such is Fame: The Real Enduring Legacy of Niagara Falls

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In crafting a list of hidden gems of Greater Western New York, it’s apparent one must define what one means by the word “hidden.” Of course, if one of these not-so-hidden gems turns out to have inspired something truly outstanding, well, that would be worth writing about. Before I get to that, though, let me share with you my methodology for compiling this list, but allow me to do this by showing you, not telling you (assuming that’s even possible in the format of the written word).

For example, we have plenty of gems that have received broad national attention. Indeed, several people, events and activities from, in and around the Greater Western New York region have found themselves honored with places in our history books.

What school-aged child doesn’t know the name of Continue Reading “Such is Fame: The Real Enduring Legacy of Niagara Falls”

Ode to Curt’s Stop-In: An Era Ends

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Like a scene from The Wonder Years, I remember the feeling of youthful exuberance when, in the dark of evening, we crossed the six lanes of hectic highway as only Buffalo, NYreckless eight-year olds could. The thrice daily shift change left Route 5 abuzz with a cornucopia of cars – from speeding muscular sportsters to equally vigorous family sedans. I wasn’t looking at the traffic, though. Instead, my eyes fixed on the heavens above as I followed the path of a faintly glowing satellite arc through the starry sky blanketing us. I pointed it out to my friend, who also had a thing for astronomy. It was the early summer of 1968 and I was about to experience something I would never forget.

We survived the treacherous crossing and made a bee-line to a place I had never Continue Reading “Ode to Curt’s Stop-In: An Era Ends”

Earth Day and Kodak Bashing

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This Commentary originally appeared in the April 19, 1990 issue of The Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel.]

CarosaCommentaryNewLogo_259Miss Powell possessed an unusual amount of progressiveness for a fourth grade teacher planning to retire in two years. One of three sisters, she had the kind of rugged individualism we, as Americans, have come to admire. She taught at Woodlawn Intermediate, located in the Bethlehem Steel industrial complex.

Teaching blue collar children, most of whom had been brought up in households full of ethnic ritual, must have been quite a Continue Reading “Earth Day and Kodak Bashing”

Chasing the Iron Ghosts of Blasdell Junction

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A different year. A different time. A different era. A different culture.

Dry cinder and billowy steam painted the surroundings. The clanking and grinding of metal against metal pierced the air. The steady distant drone of heavy industry Blasdell Junction - RR Sign Amidst Nature_300provided background color for the audio pallet.

Within less than one square mile of reshaped earth lay more than twenty-two linear miles of railroad. Stacked one above another, the tracks featured motive power from five Class 1 railroads and one industrial switcher.

Squeezed within a quarter mile wide swath of land included: two junction tracks (formerly the Terminal Railroad that bypassed the busy railroad yards of the City of Continue Reading “Chasing the Iron Ghosts of Blasdell Junction”