Greater Western New York: The Hollywood Ideal of America?

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We drove down “Main Street” into Seneca Falls trying very hard to capture in our eyes the wholesome virtue of Frank Capra’s fictional Bedford Falls. Many people believe the Seneca County village was the inspiration for Capra’s town in the Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life. Some say you can see the obvious resemblance just by driving down the main street of Seneca Falls. It was tough to do. First, a lot of things have changed since Tommy Bellissima remembers cutting Capra’s hair in late 1945. For one thing, urban renewal, while not overly disturbing the buildings on Falls Street (the real name of the main thoroughfare through town), did change the layout of the road on the east side of town.

On the other hand, Continue Reading “Greater Western New York: The Hollywood Ideal of America?”

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”

It’s a Wonderful Western New York Life

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It's_a_Wonderful_Life_250For the umpteenth time I find myself watching Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life. Yet, in all the years those reels have run through my retinal receptors, for the first time I really see the poignant – if unintended – metaphor.

We – Western New York – are Bedford Falls.

I don’t mean in the literal sense like Seneca Falls. I don’t mean in the physical-proximity sense because the movie mentions Buffalo and Rochester. And I don’t mean in the meteorological sense because those are definitely lake-effect snowflakes in the film. Rather, I speak of a much more mysterious philosophical aura that borders on the eerie similarities of tragic prognostication laced with a fringe of hope.

Continue Reading “It’s a Wonderful Western New York Life”