Life is a (Small Town) Carnival

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Like any kid growing up in the snowbelt otherwise known as Blasdell, I looked forward to three things each summer. The beginning of summer would signal going to IMG_0016_Mendon_Carnival_Twilight_300Fantasy Island to celebrate a good report card, ride the steamboat and watch the live shootouts. The end of summer meant going to the Erie County Fair to see the vast array of other-worldly side shows on the Midway, the acrid smell of burnt oil and rubber at the demolition derby and the taste of my grandfather’s sumptuous pizza. Sandwiched in between, both chronologically and geographically was the Big Tree Fireman’s Carnival. I think it was actually called the Big Tree Firemen’s Annual Field Days. But for kids (and headline writers short on space) it was the Big Tree Carnival.

Here’s the real difference between Fantasy Island, the Erie County Fair and the Big Tree Continue Reading “Life is a (Small Town) Carnival”

Back at the Old Pizza Stand

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In the opening scene of 1962’s The Music Man, Harold Hill, con man extraordinaire, unexpectedly bumps into his old friend and accomplice Marcellus Washburn. Marcellus has since married a “nice comfortable girl” and settled down in the idyllic Midwestern town of River City (“Gone legitimate, huh? I knew you’d come to no good,” laments Hill). When he asks Harold if he’s still pitching steam automobiles, Hill shakes his head “No” and says, “I’m back at the old stand” whereupon he pantomimes conducting a band.

I can’t say Hamburg had the stubbornness of River City, Iowa, (after all, Hamburg is the “Town that Friendship built”), but I can attest to an idyllic feeling growing up off South Park when it had only two lanes. And like the magical concluding scene of The Music Man, my brother and I (and maybe even my mother and father, too), couldn’t wait to Continue Reading “Back at the Old Pizza Stand”

Bring Back Crispy M&M’s®!

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They disappeared without much fanfare in 2005. I barely noticed it, but, then again, I don’t often buy M&M’s®.IMG00010-20100719-2030_orange_M&Ms_300 When I did, I usually did it only to fill treat bowls for the holidays. But Crispy M&M’s® Crispy remained my favorite of the brand. You’d think they might have been the favorite of the manufacturer, since, according to the Wikipedia entry (as of July 18, 2010), they brought in more profit than any other M&M® variety (caveat emptor, Wikipedia contains no reference for this “fact”).

Just in time for Christmas – is that why I first noticed them? – Crispy M&M’s® came into being in December 1998, the company’s first new flavor since 1954, when it introduced Peanut M&M’s®. Most folks, though, probably remember the debut of the paranoid “Orange” character in an ad that Continue Reading “Bring Back Crispy M&M’s®!”