Solar Eclipse, 1970 – A True Story

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, March 7, 1970 – Leisure Lanes, Camp Road, Hamburg, New York. I’ll never forget that day. It was the first time I remember having to make a very difficult choice. It was a wrenching choice. It was an agonizing choice. It was the kind of choice no one ever expects a nine-year old boy to have to face.

Yet I did. And I can blame no one for it except for myself, the expectations I had placed on myself, and the subsequent expectations I had encouraged others to, well, expect of me. Nonetheless, the way I approached the decision appears, in retrospect, to have become the template I have since used for all such future conundrums.

By that point in the latter half of fourth grade, I had become the de facto astronomer of the class. Yes, there was actually a competition of this exalted position, and I was determined Continue Reading “Solar Eclipse, 1970 – A True Story”

Back at the Old Pizza Stand

Bookmark and Share

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”

Size Doesn’t Matter

Bookmark and Share

It may have been my father’s greatest embarrassment, but it was my greatest loss, a loss erased only by 25 years and a chance plumbing mishap.

How my family sees my long lost 1970 trophy.

It all started on a day which lives in “famy” (as opposed to“infamy”). No, I’m not exaggerating. It really was a famous day. On Saturday, March 7, 1970, I found myself bowling three games at Leisure Lanes in Hamburg, New York, among several dozen participants in the first Bowling Tournament my Cub Scout Pack ever had. The rest of the Northern Hemisphere spent the bulk of that sunny midday experiencing the greatest total eclipse of the sun our corner of the Earth will have until April 8, 2024.

I had won the Cub Scout Pack Bowling Tournament that day. My father, the Pack’s Cubmaster, bought a nice bowling trophy and a brass plate to etch the name of the winner. He didn’t expect Continue Reading “Size Doesn’t Matter”

What Popular Fast Food Item was Invented In Western New York?

Bookmark and Share

Here’s a quick question: What popular fast food was invented right here in Western New York? Think you know the answer? I’ll give you a hint – it’s not chicken wings. OK, smarty-pants, with apologies to Frank and Teresa, “chicken wings” Erie_County_Fair_Historical_Trolley_Head_On_300is a correct answer, but too obvious and not the correct answer. I’ll give you another hint – it was invented at the Erie County Fair in the mid-1880’s. If you know Western New York, then you may think you already know the answer. If you’re not sure, you’ll have to read on.

On Friday afternoon, I had the pleasure of making my annual visit to “America’s Fair” – the Erie County Fair in Hamburg, New York. I can tell you stories about the Fair dating from my youthful days when I helped my grandparents hawk slices from the family’s pizza stand, but I’ll save that for later. Suffice it to say, all I ever needed to know in life I learned while working in my grandfather’s pizza Continue Reading “What Popular Fast Food Item was Invented In Western New York?”

The Search for the Slice

Bookmark and Share

[This Commentary originally appeared in the July 6, 1989 issue of The Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel.]

CarosaCommentaryNewLogo_259It rains an awful lot in New Haven. It even rains in the winter. Of course, any amount of snow makes it worse. They don’t use salt in New Haven. They use sand. The snow melts (with the help of rain), leaving the sidewalks a puddle of a gritty mud. Over the years, though, one builds an immunity of sorts and learns to cope with the constant precipitation. (Maybe that’s why I rarely Continue Reading “The Search for the Slice”