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"Wings Of The Buffalo"

I was born in Buffalo on my way to Nashville. 
Some people say they named it "Buffalo" 
because there isn't one for a thousand miles. 
Others say it got its name from the way the natives look. 
I resent that. 

When I left Buffalo, they had just started building the beltway. 
The next time I got back, the beltway was worn out. 
I never got to enjoy it in its prime. 
And vice versa. 

I remember a ragman. 
This guy was all over town. 
I think he rode on a horse drawn wagon (one of the last), 
and had a big parasol mounted up there to keep the sun off. 
I don't know the origin of his accent, 
but to us kids, it sounded like he was calling out "EDDag". 
We knew it was supposed to be "Rags", 
but that didn't stop us from shouting back: "EDDag". 

We played street hockey on roller skates 
with a ball from a miniature pool table as a puck. 
It was a thrill when it hit your shins, 
and kept us amazingly alert. 

When I was a kid, the scary guys were from Amherst St.. 
A bully named Red Webster knocked me around until about the eighth grade, 
when I beat him up at our sandlot baseball field. 
We seemed to be buddies after that. 
Even so, I picked on him occasionally. 

My grandfather was an engineer on the Pennsylvania Railroad. 
He wore a business suit and carried a briefcase to work. 
In the case he carried his engineer's overalls, shirt, cap, and lunch. 
My grandparents wanted the neighbors to think he was a businessman. 
They were into keeping up appearances, 
but, my teenage cohorts and I didn't help the illusion. 

I played one of my first piano gigs at The Anchor Bar, 
where they invented Buffalo Wings. 
It's no Jonas Salk story, but it's the best I can do. 

We had good teachers. 
I believe we learned by eighth grade 
the equivalent of what is now considered to be a college education. 

Frank Lloyd Wright designed the second house away from us. 

Misty lived in the same town all that time and we never met. 

My grandparents lived in Buffalo for many years. 
Then they moved to Florida to get away from us, 
and we all followed them down here. 

I'd like to go back there and look around, 
but maybe it's better to see it the way I do now. 

Copyright  February 24, 2002 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved.

 

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