Friday, May 04, 2007

A Drive into Buffalo

Moored at Buffalo's Navy Park are the submarine Croaker, the light cruiser Little Rock and, hidden behind the Little Rock, the destroyer Sullivans

Awoke to the sound of Priscilla backing her car out the driveway, at about 8:30. Out for coffee with Jeff this morning. After a long debate, we ended up, at “Taste”. We each ordered a bagel and coffee, then eying the sweets, he added an apple pie a la mode, while I opted for a brownie.

200 Walnut Street

It was obscene, considering we were going to take Priscilla out for lunch! "Taste" is quite the gathering place during the work day, especially for attractive women.

After eating, Jeff went out and found he had left his key in the ignition. Not only that, but the headlight had been left on. The battery was dead. We walked over to a gas station across Main Street. A mechanic led us over to his car, removed jumper cables from the trunk, and leaving the trunk open, simply said "put them back when you’re done." Only in small town America.

I jumped his bike from mine. With a $5 bill attached, Jeff returned the cables to the fellow's trunk. We drove into Buffalo, a remarkably compact city, easy to navigate. Little traffic downtown. We stopped on Main, across from Priscilla’s office. Jeff left her a voice mail message that we were waiting on the street below. Soon she appeared with a couple of co-workers.

Jeff expresses his disdain for the paparazzo

Priscilla chats with Jeff outside her Main Street office

Priscilla said I should see the Ellicott Building in front of which, we were illegally parked. While Jeff minded the bikes, we went into the building's ornate Art Deco atrium. Her boss, Greg Yungbluth and his partner Bob Portin were having lunch at the cafe there, so she introduced me.

Ornate elevator doors inside Buffalo's Ellicott Square

Ellicott Square atrium (with Priscilla's boss dining in front of the staircase)

She still had some work to do, so we arranged to meet at "Spot Coffee". Browsing the coffee shop, I thought it was not the most appropriate place to take her for lunch. Her suggestion of "Pearl Street" seemed better. She arrived and I recommended a change of venue. We ended up at "Salsarita’s" just across the street from "Spot". The “fresh Mex” was not to exciting, but adequate.

Outside, at the intersection of Delaware and Chippewa, stands a big screen roadside TV, playing commercials. A taste of the future? Another distraction from the world around us.

The first time I've seen a "Roadside TV", this one at a busy downtown Buffalo intersection. One more distraction for overly-distracted drivers.

Billboard in downtown Buffalo, featuring a gentlemen trailing toilet paper from his trousers. A comment on our obsession with gambling.

Jeff and Priscilla returned to East Aurora, but Priscilla said I should take the "Skyway" for a spectacular view of the city. A sharp blue afternoon. I drove back and forth over the bridge, then decided to return and have a look at the ships docked in Buffalo's "Navy Park": the light cruiser Little Rock (DLG 4)(which I had often seen in San Diego and Long Beach during the late 60s and early 70s), the Fletcher Class destroyer Sullivans (DD537) and the submarine Croaker (SS246).

Wandered among the old waterfront mills and grain elevators, looking for a photo opportunity. General Mills and ADM are among the largest active plants here. South of Buffalo, 8 or 9 Huge windmills have been erected along the Erie lakeshore.

Old mills and grain elevators along the Buffalo waterfront

Returned to East Aurora via Lackawanna, past the huge plants of Mittal Steel (formerly Bethlehem?), Republic Steel and Ford, then out through the towns of Hamburg and Orchard Park.

In the evening, Becky and Kathy joined us at Priscilla's house. We sat on the front porch until it became too cold. Jeff and Kathy were quite tired. Priscilla and I made potato salad (“not bad”) and she cooked hot dogs and toasted some buns on the grill.

Kathy joins the party

Sitting around the kitchen table, Kathy, Jeff, Priscilla and Becky recalled the events during the Pfohl's visit to our Gilmore Street house in Canoga Park during 1965. Though Becky clearly recalls aspects of the visit “like it was yesterday”, I have absolutely no recollection. They talked of all of us riding out to Hidden Hills in Jeff’s old Ford station wagon. Becky recalls me wearing glass frames without lenses. "Where was I?" It was very disconcerting.

Becky bought Jeff a birthday cake inscribed “Mr. Big Pants”. (His birthday is the 9th.) Kathy gave him a "AppleUmpkin" tee shirt. But by 11:00, everyone had kind of pooped out and left, or retired for the night.

The "diet-sized" birthday cake reads "Mr. Big Pants"

Jeff displays his birthday gift from the cousins: an "AppleUmpkin" t-shirt

There's so much maintenance to do around Priscilla’s old house, that she wants me to move in and be the handyman, in exchange for room and board. A tempting proposal.

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