We have received many fond memories from present and former islanders through our "Guest Book" and emails. Our Island is very special. If you have memories you would like to share, email email@example.com and we will add you to our Island Memories page.
Tom Longs' Memories - Remembering Sam Long
Posted July 27, 2011
My name is Tom Long, not the Tom Long living at Baseline and Long Road, but the better looking one in Georgia. My brother is Mark, our dad was Elmer Long, brother of Earl, Harvey, and Bob Long, all sons of Mae and Sam Long of Long Road.
We lived on Long Road from ’48 or so until around 1952 when dad built a house on West River Pkwy a couple lots from Bedell. I grew up with the Tranters, Pinkows, Timmy Gross, Fontanas, etc. before moving to Atlanta in 1959. I was just 12 so Huth Road was my last school on the Island and Mrs. Fontana was my teacher.
We moved to GA in 1959 so we remember the Clown House very well…especially the construction, and always guessing what is was going to be. It was always a great treat when dad took us for custard…and the curly cues were great, too. I remember the go cart track best from watching one of my crazy cousins, Sam (Earl) Long, drive around everybody else on the track. You may recall Sam raced everything and anything with an engine…usually a Ford flathead. Sam and I became good friends over the years, visiting each other almost every year. I guess it was fitting that we had more than a few good breakfast meals at McMahon’s including one just days before Sam died.
Also, when I was living on the Island, Sam or Paul (Sam’s brother) would let me ride with them in their big dump trucks…what a thrill I will never forget. Anyway, it was providential I guess that about two weeks before Sam died, I was staying with him and we had a small load of top soil to be delivered to where else but McMahon's (Clown House). It was like stepping back in time watching Sam shift gears and manage that truck like it was an extension of his body.
I have many more wonderful memories that I will try to share as time goes by. Love this site and will visit it more.
Brad Langdon's Memories - Fantasy Island
Posted May 11, 2009
Brad Langdon was employed at Fantasy Island for six years when he played the part of Jeremiah Brandon with the Brandon Brothers western show.
Click photo for a larger view.
"The first year Fantasy Island Park opened (1961) I provided worms for the fishing pond at a penny apiece. It amazed me as a 13-year-old that I could just walk through the gate with my coffee can of worms and then stay in the park! As soon as I realized I was recognized by the guard and no longer had to stop and explain who I was, I got my neighbor to provide the worms and I just walked into the park each day and hung out at The Golden Nugget Saloon.
"Soon enough I was backstage working as the stage manager - all for free of course because I was too young to really work there, and besides, none of the actor/singers in the show really wanted to share in the stage managing which was their responsibility.
Over the years I worked the rides, maintenance, parking lot..and hung out at The Golden Nugget when my shifts were over. Eventually I worked a year as Jeremiah Brandon (1968). Jeff Lubick was Black Bart and we had a third brother whose stage name and real name (Tom?) I don't remember. Bob White played a cowboy, too, although my memory is that he worked part-time. I could be wrong about that.
"A few years after Fantasy Island, I worked as a DJ at WPHD-FM along with Jeff Lubick. I was fired for making anti-Nixon comments on the air. :0)
Today in 2009 I am a minister with the Unity Church, serving a congregation in Anderson, Indiana.
One last thing...I lived across the street from Clyde Farnan (Buckskin Joe) on Carter Drive in Falconwood, which is how I came to be "The Worm Boy" that first year."
Brad, whose family moved to the Island in 1957, attended Kaegebein School and Sidway School before being bussed to Hutch Tech in Buffalo. He attended grades 9-11 there and finished high school at Kenmore East.
Brad wrote, "Here's a wonderful memory of mine. In 6th grade my teacher was Miss (Constance) Carberry. Somehow she was connected with a couple of us kids deciding to do some digging at Beaver Island. It may have come after a history lesson on smuggling booze across the west river from Canada. Anyway...I think it was Bob White (also a cowboy at FI) and I who rode our bikes to Beaver Island and started digging along the water's edge in a particular spot and we uncovered some clay bottles. I found one completely in tact and had it for maybe a decade until it 'disappeared' along with some of my other belongings (but that's another story).
Cynthia Coons' Memories -
Posted April 9, 2009
My name is Cynthia Coons. My mother and father were Katherine Petrides Coons and Winston Coons. We lived in Falconwood Manor at 54 Redway Road. I and my siblings Vance, Brian, Tim and Lynn, lived at this address from 1954 to 1962. We all attended Kaegebein Elementary School. Across the street from us lived Bill and Fay Wood and their kids, the Barrus boys, John and Grant; and the Tierneys...Ann Tierney was a girlhood friend of mine. We were friends with Mae Capizzi and Sal, Larry Eskew, the McTigues and countless others. I would have graduated with the first class to graduate the new high school in 1966 but we moved to Buffalo and I attended Riverside High School instead. I now live in San Diego after residing in Syracuse, NY and then 20 years in Manhattan, Van lives in Syracuse NY; Brian lives in Coer d'alene, Idaho; Lynn in Hawaii; and Tim lives in Tucson, Arizona. My father passed away in 2004 and my mother is now living in San Diego as well. I used to ride my bike to Beaver Island State Park with Bill Davis, my next door neighbor. John and Grant Barrus and myself once stuffed one of my father's bullheads. Grant ripped his mattress open to extract some stuffing for our masterpiece and I sprinkled it with my mother's best Lanvin perfume and we presented this gorgeous wall piece, unpreserved, to my mother, much to her disgust. I have many found memories of the Island...riding my bike all along Stony Point Road....going to the Wild Root Charlie Regattas on the river and attending the Firemen's summer picnics. My Dad and Bill Wood were long time volunteer firemen. Sadly I recently learned of Grant Barrus' death....he died in 1993 and a minor obituary is listed with the Misawa Airbase website...also Mike O'Dea with whom I attended SUNY Delhi. and...Before I left I did connect with my girlhood friend, Beverly Harmaty.
Doug Smith's Memories - Go-Carts - Fantasy Island - Builder Supply Store
Posted August 10, 2006
Jerry Cahill (left) of Stony Point and Doug Smith of East River Road were working at Fantasy Island in the Western Show in the summer of 1967. - Click photo for a larger view.
Doug Smith recently passed on some of his Island memories after discovering Isledegrande.com and reading the "Clown House" feature.
See "Clown House" and "Clown House #2"
Go-Carts at the Clown House on Grand Island Blvd., early 1960s. Click photos for a larger view.
"Hi Teddy! I just have to put my two cents in. The Clown House memories really awakened a time of youth and innocence. We would ride our bikes or hitch hike up there when it was a safer world, and you always knew who was picking you up anyway. The go-cart rides were 50 cents and you could always count on Mr. Van Dyke, to get on the loud speaker when time was up and yell, "Red lights on...Red lights on, Pull up and stop at the yellow line." Of course some of us would try to get one more lap in. John Linenfelser and I sure spent a lot of time trying to figure out where our next 50 cents was going to come from to support our go-cart habit. My dad or Johns' dad, would hire us to do odd jobs around the stores they owned, Grand Island Lumber and Builders Supply, and Wayside Furniture. My growing up years were spent about 50/50 with my family and the Linenfelsers. What a childhood!!! Big Dan and Betty both treated me like one of their own. I had no idea these memories were still inside me. Thank you for prying them out."
In regard to the photo above of Jerry Cahill and Doug when they were cowboys at Fantasy Island, Doug writes:
"Best Cowboys Fantasy Island ever had, and the year was 1967. We graduated 1966 and worked together in '67. What a HOOT that was. The only other Grand Islanders that I can come up with were Bob White and Liz Prosser. Bob was a cowboy with us, and Liz was part of the Wild West Show, too. Maybe she was Calamity Jane or Annie Oakley. We sure had a lot of fun.
Another cowboy who was with us was Brad Langdon. His family lived on Love Road and had some in-law connections to the Sturtz'. We were there at Fantasy Island when TARZAN ZERBINI was the main draw. I was "Dude" Brandon and Jerry was Black Bart Brandon. We had a brother Ezra who went on to radio fame (Jeff Lubeck) and countless talented stage people. The one I remember most was the lead singer at the Golden Nugget Saloon......Linda Tyrell. She was singing with ...I think the Ray Conniff Singers at the time. But she was from Tonawanda. What a talent!"
(left) 1948 hardware store in the area now known as the Town Commons; (right) new store on Grand Island Blvd. 1952
(left) 1952 Lumber and Builders Supply Store; (right) Link Hardware, Whitehaven June 1968
(right) Formal opening of Link Hardware, November 1974 (Bob and Lynn)
Councilman Paul McCarthy, Lynn Smith, Bob Smith, Councilman Dr. Sam Long, Tax Collector Bob Kaiser, Bob Kraft, Town Clerk Ruth Horner, Joe Gordon, Assessor Art Wade and Rec. Department Director Bob Zuchowski
(from left) Unknown, Bob Smith, unknown, unknown, Roger Kaiser Sr., Harold Webb, unknown, unknown; seated man is unknown with Mary Ann Kruse Arsenault on his lap.
Click photos for larger view
Bob Smith, Doug's father, and Ed Dunshie were well known for many years as the hardware guys on Grand Island. They went into business in 1948 when they founded Grand Island Lumber and Builder Supplies and located in a small building on Whitehaven Road next to Godfrey's Grocery Store in the area now known as the Town Commons. Their next venture was planning, purchasing and starting the operations of a full scale Concrete Transit Mix Service. The $35,000 plant was fully automated and took only one man to operate the batching mechanism.
According to a newspaper article written in 1955: "Operation of the Transit Mix Plant started on Tuesday, July 26, 1955. Simultaneously the New York Thruway contractor started paving operations in the vicinity of Whitehaven Road. For the next few weeks the Batch plan of Grand Island Lumber will be used by the Thruway contractor to mix the aggregate and cement for the Thruway paving. Representatives of Tomlinson Construction were working side by side with Grand Island Lumber employees as the new plant received its shake down. Batch Plant operator was Harold Webb who ran the plant. The entire output of the plant for the month of August had been taken by the Thruway contractor."
The cement plant at Grand Island Lumber and Builders Supply was facing an obstacle in August 1956 as were many Transit Mix operations in WNY. Bulk cement, major ingredient in concrete has been nearly impossible to obtain due to the great demand and priority of the State for Thruway purposes and the St. Lawrence Seaway. Bag cement was available from out of state sources and trucked in to meet the emergency.
Bob Smith, along with his wife, Lynn, opened their own general hardware business in the Beyer Building (now Rockwood Collision/Erie Co. Sheriff's Dept.), on Whitehaven Road in June 1968. For a little more on The Smith/Dunshie story, click "Wiggle Nails" written by Ruth Stahl.
Garey Mesmer - "Thanks For Keeping The Grand Island Spirit Alive"
Editor's Note: Garey Mesmer, a GIHS graduate, Class of 1978, is a descendant of the Mesmer, Staley, Fleischmann and Dilliot families who date back many years in the history of Grand Island. Currently living in Washington State, Garey will relocate to Orchard Park, NY in the middle of May 2006 with plans to return to Grand Island. Garey's memories appear below.
"I just wanted to thank you for keeping the Grand Island spirit alive. I love your website, and I love being from Grand Island," Garey said in a recent email to Isledegrande.com.
Garey's friends, Trisha Geisenhoff and Mark Anderson
at the Dave and Donna Mesmer home at Bush and Alt Blvd.
where they attended Garey's June 1978 graduation party.
The Mighty Midget Baseball Team.
Click photos for larger view.
(Left) 1978 photo of Garey Mesmer, Garey's mother Donna Mesmer, Tim Mesmer and Garey's father, Dave Mesmer
(right photo) Mark Anderson in Boat with hand in air, Scott Allen, George Smith, Pat McCullough (sun glasses) and John Lefler
(left photo) Mark Anderson, George Smith, John Lefler - (right photo from left) Garey's brother, Darryl, his Dad David, and Garey
1968, Bob Luchak, Tim Mesmer, Jimmy Winters, Gary Winters and Garey Mesmer at 741 East River Road.
Mesmer's Dairy - 1979
Click photos for larger view
My name is Garey Mesmer and I am a deep seeded Islander. My grandfather, Jack Mesmer, really lived the American dream. From nothing but hard work and determination Grandpa Mesmer created Mesmer's Dairy. He grew it from a one-horse operation to a multi million dollar enterprise on Love Road. My grandfather was also a former supervisor of Grand Island from 1932-39 and helped get the first bridge built. Grandpa John L. Mesmer also fought unsuccessfully for removal of tolls in 1935 and 1936.
My mother's family, the Staleys, also contributed to the agricultural growth of Grand Island as they farmed much of the land north of Staley Road.
My dad, Dave Mesmer, wrestled at the fire hall in the 1950s as "Manglin Mez" until a retired prize fighter really beat him up. It was Joe Moscato who ended my dad's amateur wrestling career at a sports night on May 28, 1953 at the old fire hall. It was mutually understood before the match that no one would get hurt. Well, as they were brawling each other one thing led to another and Joe Moscato tore old dad to pieces.
My grandfather, father and uncles John R., Franklin, Raymond, and Edward started the operation of their new dairy and milk bottling plant on Love Road in 1953. Their plant on Argus St. in Buffalo was dismantled and moved to Grand Island. The Mesmer family opened Mesmer and Sons Dairy Bar over the weekend of February 27-28, 1954. The Dairy's hand scooped ice cream cones were the very best. I remember what a treat it was to go for ice cream after a ball game. One scoop vanilla, one scoop chocolate always on top of a sugar cone. I especially loved it when my Grandma (Anita Staley) was working at the dairy. She always put in a little extra for me. I would order a hot fudge sundae from her that weighed about a pound with loads of nuts and whipped cream. Needless to say growing up around an ice cream bar turned me into quite a chubby little boy. The Dairy Bar closed in June of 1963 and the space continued as a small grocery.
My mom is Donna Staley Mesmer, and my grandma was Anita Staley. Garey Staley is my uncle. Isabelle and Jack Mesmer are my dad's parents. Around 1973 my grandmother, Anita, married Peter Goyette, the barber across the street from St. Stephen's Church. As you remember, having long hair in the '70s was cool. So whenever we got into trouble, dad would take me and my brothers to Grandpa Pete, the barber, for a brush cut. I must have been in trouble a lot because there was never much hair on my head.
I've enclosed a picture of my championship GI REC team, The Mighty Midgets. The picture is dark and I cannot ID everyone. If you could post the pictures on your website then I may be able to find out the names of the remaining players. It was 1972 and we just could not lose. Most of the games I remember we were always down by a few runs but found a way to win. We kept winning all the way to the Erie County championship game held at the Erie County Fair. My grandfather, Jack Mesmer, watched us win right before he died. My teammates as I can remember were, Header Milkas, Jeff Sturtz, Bobbie Luchek, Chris Gibney, Kevin Doring, and me, Garey Mesmer.
Mark Anderson, who is in one of the pictures, and I are best of friends. His father, Don Anderson, had a small wooden boat. If Mark and I were ever going to use the boat, we had a list of things a mile long to do around Don's house. I remember the list well. Mow and weed yard. Vacuum swimming pool. Clean garage. After completing chores, Don would allow us 1 hour of unsupervised boating time. I also remember some of the things we would do that would not allow us to use the boat. 1- Drinking Don's liquor. 2- Eat the food in the downstairs refrigerator that Mark's mother, Barbara, clearly marked, "Do not eat." Barb is a great cook.
Thanks again for the great service you provide and keep up the good work.
Garey's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor's note: Jack Mesmer bought his first dairy from the Long family around 1941. That dairy was located on the property now owned by Kelly's Country Store. As the Mesmer operation continued to grow they soon out grew the Island location and moved the business to Cheektowaga after purchasing Elfield dairy in 1944. Outgrowing that location as well, the Mesmers moved their dairy operation to Riverside, NY after purchasing Klein's dairy in 1950. Finally, in 1954 the Mesmer family moved the operation to the Love Road site. Fire destroyed much of the Mesmer's Dairy on Love Road on July 16, 1992.
Summer Storm, 1953 and Memories of the Schutt Farm
Photos from left are Fred Schutt's parents, Carl and Mae Bell Schutt on their wedding day at the Bell farm Baseline and Fix roads in 1922; Mae (Bell) and Carl Schutt in the 1950s; Fred with his dog, Skinny (notice windmill in background).
Fred at about 9 years old on his toy tractor; and a 1920s photo of the Schutt farm taken from the roof of the barn (click this one for a larger view). According to Fred, "The building left of the main house is the ice house I mentioned earlier, the building closest to the main house with the addition on it was moved over to 1541 Bedell and became our home. Mabel Ziehm lived in the area of the farm buildings in the background, but the Schutts owned and worked the buildings and fields behind it." Freddie, 16 years old with the main farm house in background (click for larger view).
Editor's Note: The following was included in the Between The Bridges Column last week and brought a response from Fred Schutt, Island resident 1943-1970.
A storm that hit Grand Island at 7:30 p.m. July 1, 1953 was said to be the worst in 50 years. One of the hardest hit was the Henry Schutt farm at Stony Point and Bedell roads. The barn was severly damaged, the house roof pierced, and several magnificent trees on the front lawn were blown down. Lighting at the Grand Island Playhouse Wednesday night was supplied by volunteer firemen who set up their auxiliary power unit at the theater. Ernest Consier of Ransom Road had 50% of his 112 acres of wheat damaged by the storm with a net loss expected to amount to between $2000 and $3000.
Fred Schutt's Memories
I remember it like it was yesterday! I had been working in the garden with my mom and saw the black sky to the North. It suddenly became very still and quiet, not a sound, no birds no wind, just nothing. Then it started raining big drops and the hail came, we ran to the house. We lived next door to the big Schutt farm house. The hail broke the glass of the door as we closed it behind us. The air around us became gray and we couldn't see through it at all, just debris and hail. The house shook with the wail of wind and hail. Water came in in places it shouldn't and we were scared.
When the air cleared and we saw the destruction, we were devastated. A chicken house that stood at the back of our yard was totally gone, not so much as a shingle or nail was ever found. A big Elm tree was twisted and broken and limbs laid on our driveway where a brand new Chevy had been sitting. The Chevy was sitting in a field some hundred feet away with not a scratch on it. The main barn was minus its huge sliding doors and the entire barn was leaning drastically towards the South. The 45' tall ceramic silo was crumpled to the ground, roofs gone off sheds, huge elm trees, chestnut trees, and others were twisted and battered and down in the front yard of the main house. The barn doors were found later to be inside the barn up in the highest lofts. Raymond Schutt was caught in the barn from the storm, and when he was about to make a run to the house, he opened the door just as the huge silo crashed in front of him. Had he stepped out sooner, he wouldn't have made it. Luckily no animals were hurt. We had to build concrete anchors in the ground on the north side of the barn and used large cables to pull the barn back up straight. Lot's of work!
In 1953 Raymond Schutt was the owner. He received it from my grandfather Henry when he died. Raymond had several brothers and sisters, Clarence, Elmer, Carl, Lester, Mabel Ziehm and Sarah Webb. Raymond was the youngest and Carl was my dad. Lester is the only one living today, and he is in Seattle Washington area. We lived in what was originally a bunk house for farm hands. It was moved west of the present main house, then added onto. It's at 1541 Bedell now. Mabel Ziehm and husband Myron lived in a small home across Stony Point and centered looking down Bedell. It's no longer there nor are the barns and sheds that went with it.
The main big house had an ice house that was used to store large blocks of ice cut from the river at the end of Ransom Road. It is still there today, but has been converted to a garage. It had walls filled with sawdust for insulation.This was the only refrigeration they had all year until electricity came along. The farm was the first on Grand Island to get electricity, and my grandfather saw to it that we had modern equipment to work with. The ice house was a real treat on a hot summer day, to go into the dark cold room and touch the ice. On the roof of the ice house was a very large, brass bell that was used to summon the hands for dinner each day. It was sold along with many old pieces during an auction many years ago. Wish I had some of those things today!
Buffalo Evening News Reports Storm Of July 1953
A Grand Island woman was hospitalized today as the result of the thunder squall which leveled buildings, trees and power lines in the northeastern part of Grand Island Wednesday, July 2, 1953.
Residents are totaling up damage and crews are clearing debris left by the quick-hitting gale which struck hardest in the triangle bounded by East River Road, Baseline Road and Express Highway. (Could the writer have meant East River/Baseline/Whitehaven?)
Mrs. Richard (Lois) Morgan of East River Road suffered lacerations and cut tendons in the left arm when the wind blew in a window pane and sprayed her with glass particles as she sat in the office of Dr. Norman G. Stessing on East River Road.
At Mt. St. Mary's Hospital in Niagara Falls, Dr. Stessing operated on the arm this morning. Hospital authorities said Mrs. Morgan's condition is good.
The storm was called "a mild tornado like the ones in Oklahoma" by Mrs. Joseph F. Stamler of Whitehaven Rd. Mr. and Mrs. Peter P. Vanthoff of Whitehaven, residents for more than 50 years, said they believed it was the worst wind storm "since the tornado of 1896."
A two-car clapboard garage was picked up and moved 15 feet over against the home of James R. Johnstone on Stony Point Rd. near Bedell Rd. The Johnstones said they never heard the garage hit the house. They and their daughters were in the cellar.
The Henry Schutt farm at Stony Point and Bedell roads suffered some of the heaviest damage. The top 20 feet of a 36-foot clay-tile silo was blown off and a metal chute leading from the silo to the barn was carried by high winds about 1000 feet into a pasture, where it lodged against a fence.
An ice house was knocked off its foundations, a garage roof was ripped off and a chicken brooder carried away. Shingles were torn from the roof of the Schutt home, leaving in one spot a hole large enough for a man to crawl through.
Sheriff's deputies reported orchards in the area striped of young fruit and wheat fields flattened by moth-ball-size hailstones which accompanied sheets of rain.
Highway crews labored throughout the night and were busy today clearing fallen trees from blocked highways but despite their efforts some roads still were open only to one-way traffic.
Electric power in the triangle was still off this morning. Power company crews were working to restore a feeder line from Tonawanda which fell on River Road about one mile north of the South Grand Island Bridge.
Electric power failed at 7:32 p.m. Wednesday evening. Telephone service failed at about the same time. It was still partially out this morning.
Island Teenager Takes Summer Job - The Summer of 1964!
Click photos for larger view. The "postcard" photos (left) are no doubt from the early 1940s! The photo on the right is probably the fire that Mike refers to in his memories. The teens shown are Margaret Lapine Webb, Loyd "Butch" Glasgow and Paul Long.
Editor's Note: After recently posting to the "Between the Bridges" column, the photo of these street cars that served as tourist cabins from 1938 to the early 1960s, I received a note from Mike O'Dea who was employed at the site as a teenager. Mike grew up on the East River and resided there with his parents and five siblings from 1947-1967. He is now living in Carmel, Indiana with his wife, Carol and 15- and 16-year-old sons, Daniel and James. Here are his memories.
I enjoyed the picture of the trolley cars and Bridgeview Produce store. I worked for Joe Scirto at Bridgeview Produce during the summer of 1964 and into the Fall. He was a great man to work for. I was 17, but he had me deliver fresh produce to several restaurants in Buffalo and other areas. Also, I remember going out in the Fall to pick up apples and pumpkins with "Les the Indian" (Joe's name for him) somewhere near Lockport. We would load the truck way over its limit, then stop for a 6-pack on the way back to the Island. Les was someone that Joe would pay in cash. I had to go pick him up down on Niagara Street each morning about 5 a.m. Most of the time he would still be sleeping it off from the night before.
I learned a lot from Joe about the hard work involved in making a business successful. He was down at the market in Buffalo at 3:30 a.m. each morning to buy wholesale (and would be at the store all day to sell). Then I would go down and pick it up around 6 a.m. on my way to get Les. Joe was a good man. When the building had a fire that summer, he gave Les and I all the gallons of ice cream out of the freezer we could take home, as the electricity was out and he said there was no sense in wasting it.
One day a hobo came by and Joe had him paint a new store sign. He did great work. Joe said he came around once a year in the summer and he always had a sign that needed painting. The hobo had some great adventure stories, and Les and I would sit watching him paint and listen, until Joe would get after us for sitting around!
When Joe built the new store down the road, I worked there for a little while. Don't know what happened to Joe. Do you think he is buried on the Island?
Great picture, great memories.
Thanks for bringing them back.
Editor's Note: The street cars, serving as tourist cabins since 1938 on Express Highway at Staley Road, site of today's Burger King Restaurant, were burned out and the metal frames hauled away in the spring of 1963. Left standing was the building housing Bridgeview Produce and Ernie's Meat Market. For a little more history on Arner's Tourist Camp, click Old Photo Album, Volume Two
Michael Barker, Resident 1955-57, now in Phoenix, AZ comments: My family and I immigrated to the US in 1955 where I was in Mrs. Shriver's 5th grade class with Jim Linenfelser. Jim was taller than most of us kids and his voice seemed to have already changed.
My close buddies in school were Dave Gisman, Garey Staley and Bob Falon, better known as Cabondale. Peggy McNulty was the nicest girl in our classroom but my amorous schoolboy crushes were on Renee Thirion, Kathi Lang and Donna Wadon, all of whom never knew I existed. And let's not forget Miss Mauri who broke my heart by becoming Mrs. Laman. I later became best friends with Bob Harper who lived on Love Road with his brother Paul, sister Carol and his Dad, who was the nicest man in the world.
As temporary residents of the Island we spent those two wonderful years in the duplexes and then made our permanent home in Tonawanda. During my high school years I reunited with and became very close with Dave Colcord whom I am sure we all miss very much.
About five years ago I ventured onto the Island for old times sake and came across Dave Haller who hadn't changed a bit since childhood. Some of the other names I remember well are John, Paul and Mike Gast. (Mike and I got sick to our stomaches one day smoking one of his dad's Dutch Master cigars.) I can't believe we never got caught. Jimmy "Red" Snyder was also a great buddy.
I found this web-site by browsing Classmates.com and went directly into the Old Photo Album. Thanks for all those wonderful memories. My wife and I are now residing in sunny Phoenix, AZ.
Grandyle Village Parade
Click for larger view
Barbara (Glor) Martin, Resident 1942-62, now in Delaware, Ohio comments: "When I went to high school there wasn't one on the Island. We were bused to Tonawanda or Riverside. I went to Tonawanda Class of '58. My son, Dale, who lives in Cincinnati emailed me a link to Teddy's "Between the Bridges." It was fun reading, and I even recognized some of the birthday pictures! I was reminded of the Grandyle Village parades when we decorated our bikes and wagons with red, white, and blue crepe paper and paraded down Love Road. Mom still has the flag with 48 stars that we used to hang out on those holidays."
The New Sidway School
Click for larger view
Philip Killian, Charlotte Sidway School Class of 1941, now in Tonawanda comments:
I was born on West River in 1928. At that time land was very cheap. Houses weren't insulated as they are today and that cold winter wind off the river could be miserable. People looking at property there today would probably find it hard to believe land was ever cheap there.
I moved to the house on Base Line Road in '34 and lived there until I married in 1957. Later my Dad sold the house to my sister Lois and her husband Bob Kaiser. They were both former Tax Receivers on Grand Island. They sold the house several years ago and bought a house in Florida.
I attended a one-room school on Staley Road for 1st and 2nd grades. Gracie Williams (of the Island's pioneer Williams family) used to transport me and several other children to school in her model A Ford sedan. I attended 3rd and 4th grades in a two-room school on Base Line Road at the site of the present Town Hall. It housed grades 3 thru 6. In 1937 I moved into the newly opened Charlotte Sidway School. We thought it was awesome after the old schools we had attended. We were particularly impressed with the new gym we could play in. I had Miss Veronica Connor as my 7th and 8th grade teacher and she was the best I ever had. At that time she was also principal. I remember one time when we were lined up in the hall (probably getting ready to go to gym or music class. I scooted up a few places in line and suddenly felt a none too gentle tug on my hair as Miss Connor pulled me back in line. There was no serious damage but my head sure tingled for awhile. Today if a kid went home and told about it, chances are their parents would be contacting their lawyer to institute a lawsuit. Back then, If I went home and told my parents, I would have been punished again. How times change."
I remember in the late 30's when I got a glimpse of President Franklin Roosevelt when his motorcade crossed the Island. He visited the CCC Camp which was located on Grand Island Blvd. near Buckhorn State Park. This organization was set up to give young people something to do during the depression years when jobs were so scarce. They wore uniforms and lived in barracks much as military personnel did. They developed Beaver Island & Buckhorn Island State parks so certainly left their legacy. After we entered WW2, the government took over the camp and a Military Police Battalion was stationed there.
Considering Western New York's problems today as far as industry, it would be hard for people to believe that at that time, Western NY was a major defense supplier and considered by the government to be second only to Detroit in importance to be defended in case of any air attacks. Numerous emplacements were set up in the area including several on Grand Island with large Anti-Aircraft guns and searchlights manned by military personnel. At times they would have mock Air Raid alerts and when the sirens sounded, the people had to turn off all their lights or cover their windows. They had Air Raid wardens who used to go around making sure people were complying. After the sirens, many searchlights would criss-cross the night sky - it was quite impressive. The Bell Aircraft Co. with their P-39S and Curtiss Wright with their P-40S supplied thousands of fighter planes to the Allied Air Forces around the world. The Russians particularly liked the P-39 as it had a cannon mounted in the nose which was successful in strafing German tanks."
This article on Phil Killian came about after finding a notice in the 1952 Island Dispatch, included in the "Between the Bridges" column this week. The article mentioned that Phil was crowned Grand Island's undisputed ping pong champion in a tournament held at the Young Men's Club of Grand Island which met in Larson's Soda Bar on Baseline Road across from St. Stephen's Church. According to Phil, after Mr. Larson gave the young men of the Island permission to use a spare room in the building, the boys acquired a pool table and a ping pong cover to go over it.
Phil explains further.
You asked about the guys who had keys to that "Club." There weren't too many who had keys but as anyone who had a key could bring any of their friends, there were a lot of fellows who hung around there. The list would include Bud Newman, Mel Webb (who was one of the better pool players), Buzzy Anderson, Ed and Ray Mesmer. Art Staley, Tom Benton, Harold Webb, Kenny Webb, Bill Altschaft, my brother Robert, Ray Zahm, Don Kaiser, and numerous others- We had some great times. I always liked Ping-Pong and honed my skills when I was stationed in Japan as member of Occupation Army. We had many Japanese working at our camp and many were very good Ping-Pong players. I played against them in our Recreational Hall and they usually beat me but I learned a lot.
Robert "Bob" Grycel, Sidway Class of 1958, now in California comments:
"I have many fond memories of the island and the people I grew up with there. I lived at 49 Love Rd,(later changed to 1582 I believe) and my phone number was BR3122. My neighborhood friends were Peter Glor, Hobie Cullen, Lee Wheeler, Danny McMahon, Mike Senf, Lynne Ehlert, Donna Harding, and Dana Robertson, and I remember a lot of good times with all of them. I attended William M. Kaegebein School, and later Charlotte Sidway School. We ate a lot of pears on the river, caught a lot of sunfish in the creek, spent a lot of time at Beaver Island, and kept a boat at Brobeil's Marina. I still have my hockey skates hanging in my garage which got a lot of use at "The Dykes." Tuckers used to have great Birch Beer candy, and Mayers had great "Belly Wash." I haven't seen the Island since 1959, but I feel that I had the best childhood anyone ever had. Thanks for the web page, and keep up the good work."
Sunset Drive - 1955
Click photo for a larger view
Timothy Martin, now in Virginia comments:
" My Great Grand Parents had a cottage on Sunset Drive. My Great Aunt was Lillian "Brown" Shear who taught at Sidway in the 1940's. My father is Jerry Martin, the father of Glenn Martin, my brother, who still resides on the island. I have great memories of G.I. over on Sunset Drive when the family would gather in late spring and summer. It was very peaceful spot on the island. Walking down by the water enjoying the beauty of nature that was born into spring. Those times were the best of my childhood. Reading some of the comments I find many people have the same fond memories. There will never be anything more special than those days on the "Grande" Grand Island."
Grand Island High School
Mandy "Clare" Malaney, 1976 graduate of Grand Island High School: "I moved here in '75 from Toronto when I was just 16. I couldn't believe my parents would do this to me. All I saw was fields! Where were all the buildings? I longed to be back in Toronto with my friends. I could actually see the 'Panasonic Tower' in Niagara Falls, Canada from my bedroom window which gave me great comfort and great sorrow, knowing Toronto wasn't far from there. My school in Toronto had well over 3,000 students and my first day in Grand Island High was quite the experience to say the least! I remember telling my Mum that this couldn't be the school I should be in! My first day there I went to the 'lav' and was asked rather sternly, if I was a 'Senior'? Luckily I knew what, Freshman, Sophomore, Junior and Senior meant...(we don't use those terms in Canada) and thank goodness I was a 'Senior'! I guess the bathroom I was in was for Seniors only and who knows what would have happened had I been an underclassman! Well that was over 26 years ago. I'm the only one still here from my family and I've raised two wonderful daughters here! I have such special friends that moving here wasn't so awful after all! I call Grand Island my home, and I'm proud to live here!"
Arty (Haller) VanHeerde Class of '69 comments: "Hello all, it was great to reach this website. I have been in CA since 1971. Married with 2 sons. 24 and 26. Life is good and Warm! I have many memories of Grand Island, my uncles were Del and Herb, the Restaurant at Love and Baseline. I also worked at Beaver Island State Park and remember many Softball Games and Parties after work, Lifeguards VS Maintenance Crew!!!! Also Reidies Pizza, The Bedell House. Our class worked hard to have a Senior Lounge at the school.
Del & Herbs
I am also a DeGlopper on my Mom's side and they are all over the Island. My Grandmother (Nana) taught school in the one room school house on the corner of Baseline and Bush Rd. My Dad was a GI Fireman, Chief around 1957. We had a fort in the backyard at 2020 Fix Rd, where I grew up and many parties with many friends, my brother Art and I shared friends.
Mike Stefik was a resident of Grand Island from 1948-1958 and now lives in Seaview, WA. He and his wife operate a motel and antique shop.
"I was born in Buffalo but lived on Grand Island until I was about 10 years old. I attended Kaegebein Elementary School. My favorite teacher was Mrs. Butler, 2nd grade. I believe I had Mrs. Glor for 1st grade and Miss DiVizio for 3rd grade. I remember Jeffrey Barlow who moved to Wilmington, Delaware and Thomas Walsh who had a huge crush on Carol Kohlhagen.
My father was apparently quite involved in the centennial when I was very young. I do remember the song, "Grand Old Island," which I believe he wrote. I remember trudging through the snow and it seemed it came almost to my ears. I hated wearing "leggings" because the other kids didn't. I remember ice skating in the back yard in a man-made rink.
I remember Falconwood Manor. I think our house was a Sears Roebuck house and that my Dad and Grandpa added on to it, 1526 Love Road, phone number BRIDGE 3201. I remember getting ice cream (the good kind of soft ice cream they used to have) at a stand that the top of it was a large clown.
The Clown House, now home of the Islander Restaurant
I think butch hair cuts were 50 cents. I remember the tall siren on a pole in our neighbors' back yard and a black board on their garage door telling where the fire was. I don't know if it is still the same but there was only one bridge then. It seems like the local swimming beach was called Beaver Island State Park.
This is probably not very meaningful stuff but it is so long ago. Today we have a small motel and antique shop on the southern Washington coast where Lewis and Clark first saw the Pacific Ocean. We will soon be celebrating the bicentennial of that event. Sounds like you are going to have a great event!! Good Luck."
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