Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Tourist in my Home Town

I went to Buffalo this weekend for my 30th high school reunion from Sacred Heart Academy. This is the first reunion I've attended and it was a lot of fun. My high school was such a gentle place and all the girls were nice. It was interesting to see the adults we've become and to catch up on everyone's news. Some of them I've known since kindergarten, and others went on to the same college that I did, so we have decades of shared experiences.

Our original uniform made a guest appearance, along with the current SHA uniform.
I'd forgotten we used to write on our hems.

Even with two reunion events and visiting with family,  I had time for some touristing in Buffalo. On Friday, I explored Canalside, a new park on the waterfront downtown, at the site of the original Erie Canal. During the time I lived in Buffalo, the area was more or less a wasteland. Now, there's a large ice rink (used for paddle boats in the summer), art, activities for kids and families, boat tours, and kayak rentals on the Buffalo River. It was wonderful to see the area so alive with people - on a weekday even! I walked down the waterfront trail for a while, as far as the fire station for engine number 20 on Ohio Street. The "engine" is a fireboat, the Edward M. Cotter, the oldest active fireboat in the world. Also along the river: the General Mills Cheerios factory. They were baking the Cheerios as I walked past, it's a delicious smell, though it used to torture me when I was a rower in these waters and always on a starvation diet to make weight.

Edward M Cotter fireboat

This is a public skating rink in the winter

When I was a rower, we mostly rowed in the Black Rock Canal, but sometimes we came down here.
That's the Cheerios factory (and kayakers) in the distance.

Saturday, I indulged myself in breakfast at my favorite cafe, Sweetness 7 on Grant St. I ordered the "proper porridge" with some trepidation because I have been served some truly tragic oatmeal in various cafes, and since my trip to Ireland, my oatmeal standards are high. This, however, really was proper porridge. It was fluffy and clearly had been cooked on the stove and not in a microwave. It achieved almost Irish levels of Oatmeal Excellence. Then I browsed through shops and a flea market in Elmwood Village, the neighborhood we lived in when our kids were young. (Although we didn't call it Elmwood Village then. It was just the "West Side.")

Proper porridge indeed. The book is The Last Chronicle of Barset

Later, I ate lunch in a Burmese restaurant and discovered Burmese milk tea. It is similar to chai and very delicious. I'm going to try to recreate it at home.

I also spent a little time in Larkinville, another newly-restored area on the southeast edge of downtown. It turns out that Larkinville is generally a place one goes to only if there is an event scheduled. They have concerts in the square every Wednesday and there's also a Food Truck Tuesday every week. Still, there were some interesting-looking restaurants with people in them. It's clearly an area ripe with potential and I walked around for a bit. Back in the day, it was absolutely unheard of to be able to safely walk alone on this part of Seneca Street.

In Larkinville. I could smell Cheerios baking way over here, a couple of miles from the GM factory.

So, there wasn't much activity in Larkinville but then I remembered my father telling me about a Frank Lloyd Wright gas station in the vicinity. I found it, after a bit of googling and searching. You can't see it from the street because there's a museum built around it, which I wasn't aware of.

Frank Lloyd Wright designed the gas station in 1927. It was intended for Buffalo but was never built. The city of Buffalo hung on to the plans for years and in 2014 built it within the confines of the Pierce Arrow Museum at the foot of Michigan Avenue. It was a bit difficult to capture on camera, but this is the best I could do. It was designed to have an open wood burning fireplace on the lower level, with the gasoline stored in the attic. Maybe it's fortunate that it was never built!

Check the neon.

From the back
Entrance to the ladies' room. There's an identical mens' room on the other side.

Sunday I flew back to Virginia. I'm always bereft when I have to leave, especially in the summer, when Virginia is like the bottom of a damp gym bag that's been left in a hot car.

Good bye beautiful Buffalo


  1. Buffalo sounds like such a great city. I'm fed up with the swamps of the south but I can't handle northern winters.

  2. Frank Lloyd Wright was one of those architects who put form over function. What a wonderful building though! Sounds like you had a nice trip.

  3. That's a pretty accurate description of Virginia right now. Counting the days until we can head north with the camper!

  4. What a gorgeous city. I can always peg a Wright design, that fits in with all the Spring Green WI area architecture!
    That canal looks pristine. Wow.