I couldn’t concentrate yesterday to work on the blog. Usually I can’t find a topic; yesterday I couldn’t decide on one. Midmorning I went on a hike with Kevin to the Owen Falls Sanctuary in East Aurora, which I was hoping would maybe clear my head a little but really only made me want to write about how pretty trees the trees were. I felt very brave as I climbed down and over and up a creek. I felt very energized and healthy and such too because I haven’t been smoking and it made the hike so much easier. So, then I wanted to write about that, too.
I also wanted to write about my interview that came out yesterday but you can just check that out HERE if you’d like. Anyway, I never made a decision, so I never wrote a blog, so here we are today: Friday.
Deadlines were never my strong suit.
Today, I didn’t know what to write about, so we were back to the comfort zone. Then I was watching the news, and Gabby (who does the community pieces on Channel 4 that I like) was talking about 716 Day. So, let’s write about that.
If you don’t live here in Buffalo, you don’t know what I’m talking about. See, 716 is our area code. So, we have an unofficial holiday on July 16th called 716 Day. I mean, really, it’s a marketing ploy. Shops have sales and there’s this big “Give 716” charity initiative which is cool, but mostly it’s just a stupid little thing like Pi Day or Star Wars Day or Columbus Day.
(Sometimes, I wonder how my humor translates via text. But I digress…)
So since today is 716 day, I will celebrate it by writing about the 716, where I have resided all my life.
I was born at Milliard Fillmore Hospital, named after our 13th president. He is buried up at Forest Lawn Cemetery, where my mother would take me to feed the ducks when I was a little girl. We lived first in the Riverside neighborhood which was, shockingly, along the Niagara River! I lived on Tonawanda Street, named after a Native tribe of the area, across from the park. It was idyllic to me, but not so much to my parents because the neighborhood started getting dicey in the late 80s. We moved out to the suburbs…the “first suburb” of Buffalo, Kenmore. I lived there for something like 17 years and I actually know tons of history about it because we learned it in school and such but I’m not going to tell you anything because it’s pretty boring, actually. (Except for the part where three people were murdered in Kevin’s childhood home, but maybe that’s a different blog.)
I went to school in Eggertsville, another suburb, much fancier than the one I lived in. At least, the area where the school stood-I had lived in an inner-city neighborhood, a middle-class suburb, and now went to what me and the kids from Riverside would have called “rich kid school.” There were many periods of adjustment, but my point is that the 716 takes all kinds.
Eventually we moved to Lackawanna, just south of the city, and then I moved back to Buffalo, coming to a rest in South Buffalo, the home of my father. There are five sections of the city, see…the four directions and downtown, which is actually in the middle, sort of. It confused the hell out of me as a kid…oh but how I loved going downtown!!
We would take the train, which is a single route subway that runs from University of Buffalo South in the Northwest corner down Main St. It surfaces in the theater district, my favorite of all districts, then takes you down towards the Naval Park. There’s big ships there that you can tour, and I even spent the night on them twice with youth groups. The buildings along Main St. are tall and beautiful because Buffalo commercial architecture is unsurpassed, in my opinion. On an early date with Mark many moons ago after he first arrived in the city, he wandered down the street staring up at the buildings in amazement. It made me like him, the way he appreciated the city the same as I did. To me though, the crown jewel of downtown is City Hall. My grandmother worked there when I was young and I have many fond memories of visiting her. Yes…it does kind of look like it’s giving you the middle finger, but you have to go inside and see how amazing it is. Much like a real Buffalonian, it has an attitude, but it’s still beautiful.
Downtown has changed. In the 80s and 90s I got the distinct impression from adults that there was some sort of decline happening. However, since the start of revitalization along the canal and river, things have been booming. There is never not something to do…I have had actual hour-long arguments with folks who talk about wanting to vacation in Niagara Falls vs. Buffalo…OH MY GOD, WHY?! I mean, yes, I know, they are part of the 716 too so I should be showing them some love, but aside from the cataract and the casino there is very little to see this side of the falls. All of which makes a lovely day trip, should you be vacationing in the real hot spot, Buffalo, NY.
Hm. I’ve been rambling for two pages now so I suppose I should wrap it up.
Listen, I feel very deeply about my city. Not only is it my home, but it is a part of me: it is a character in my story. And I think everyone in the whole wide world should come and experience it, and maybe everybody feels that way about where they live, but…I’m right and you’re wrong. Buffalos the best place on earth.
(Still hoping my humor computes.)