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Nathan Mesnekoff began operating a funeral home at 179 Richmond Ave. in 1940. Zoning issues arose as the business grew to the point where Mesnekoff was regularly holding services for two separate families in the home’s living room and dining room. While neighbors were concerned about traffic and parking, the Jewish community stood with Mesnekoff. “Rabbi Elihu Rickel …

History

With a new millennium on the horizon, the world came together. Not for hopes of peace and harmony, but in fear over a potential computer glitch that could have thrown the Western world back into the Stone Age. Computer programmers called it the Y2K bug. Especially on many older, antiquated operating systems, on Dec. 31, 1999, at 11:59:59pm, computers would flip to Ja…

History

With millions of visits from children teetering between whining about the cold and taking it all in, mouths agape, the Festival of Lights was an essential part of Western New York Christmases in the '80s. Niagara Falls, NY first flipped the switch on “A Festival of Lights” in 1981. The lights twinkled in Niagara Falls, Ont., in 1983. The Urban Renewal project that tr…

Buffalo

The 220th anniversary of the birth of Millard Fillmore, the nation's 13th president and founder of a variety of Buffalo’s cultural institutions, will be celebrated at a ceremony at 10 a.m. Jan. 7 at Forest Lawn. The University at Buffalo and the Buffalo Presidential Center are sponsoring the event, which is free and open to the public. The program will begin at Fillm…

History

Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 24, 1969, found us sitting around the Channel 7 newsroom waiting for something to happen. By the 1960s, with declining population, Buffalo was gritty and spunky, but not a particularly bustling news town. Like other industrial cities on the Great Lakes, it was starting to show lots of rust. Decreasing jobs and increasing poverty meant the news …

Buffalo

Deborah Brown and Joe Sparacio have never met. They have never even spoken on the phone. Yet when I reached them the other day at their homes in different parts of Buffalo, they casually referred to each other by first names and asked about the other’s health and well-being. They are close in spirit, if only digitally. Brown and Sparacio are stalwart contributors to a F…

Buffalo

The challenge was laid out Thursday for John Venne, even before the school day had really started. He is a social studies teacher at Burgard High School, where his daily responsibilities include overseeing a morning homeroom filled with teens. One of his students, while waiting to go to class, described how his mother and father were embroiled in an argument the night b…

History

Nearly a century later, the collective American notion of Prohibition is more Hollywood than real life. The truth is, the lines that seem crisp and firm in the movies weren’t quite that way in the lives of people who were, to varying degrees, looking for a drink during the time when booze was illegal from 1920 to 1933. Federal Prohibition enforcement agent George H. …

History

The NFL of 25 years ago was completely different. The Buffalo Bills were great and the New England Patriots were terrible. Buffalo had been to four straight Super Bowls, and New England, under second year quarterback Drew Bledsoe, was in the midst of the team’s first winning season in seven years. Facilities were different, too. When the Bills eked out a 38-35 win at…

Obituaries

Dec. 28, 1924 – Dec. 6, 2019 Hans G. Reif, an economist, teacher and decorated World War II veteran, died Dec. 6 in Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital. He was 94. Born in Stuttgart, Germany, the second of two boys, his parents both were physicians and lived in a modernist Bauhaus home designed by architect Walter Gropius. One of his mother's patients was renowned con…

History

The First Ward's Swannie House is one of Buffalo's oldest gin mills, and recently, the family of the man who started the place began looking for some proper recognition. It was likely just the innocent manifestation of some old Irish storytelling, but the frequently retold told tale explaining the background of the Swannie name doesn't measure up to the records. …

History

The building was brought down around 2006 to make way for the new federal court building which fronts on Niagara Square, but by then, the original purpose of the building – a legitimate art theater – had been abandoned for half a century. The theater was built by the operators of the Hotel Statler in partnership with New York City theater owner A.L. Erlanger in 1927. Th…

Buffalo

Ruby Nelson shares an extraordinary heritage with a handful of others in Western New York. She was born in Georgia 78 years ago today, a couple of decades before she moved to Buffalo in search of better work and opportunities. Her birthday was Dec. 7, 1941, now most often called Pearl Harbor Day, recalling when Japanese forces launched a surprise attack on the American …

History

On Dec. 12, 1948, a Buffalo Bills win at Baltimore’s Babe Ruth Stadium to capture the All-America Football Conference Eastern Division Championship nearly caused a riot. A pass from Buffalo quarterback George Ratterman to Chet Mutryn was ruled incomplete, but fans thought it was a fumbled complete pass recovered by the Colts. The Bills scored on the drive, taking the le…