Tonawanda News

February 22, 2014

TUCKER: Cleaning out revives life's memories

The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Around town

Bob Derner needs some help from the City of Tonawanda officials. Bob emailed the following plea:

“I see the bridge swing mechanism on the bridge behind my home every day! These politicians don’t realize what a remarkable connection to their history they have. Maybe a letter to the council asking for a plaque next to it from former graduates of THS would help. (I’ll try anything to get it done. I have no shame) (The bridge) is next to the Riverwalk that has visitors from all parts of the world who come all summer and walk by it. It’s the last remaining, hand-operated, swing bridge left on the New York State Barge Canal and was built in 1886 by the Delaware and Hudson Railroad Co. to transport lumber to eastern markets from one of the largest lumber ports in the world at that time.”

Thanks Bob. We’ve all seen that remarkable bridge every time we cross the canal. And Bob’s right, a standing plaque denoting the bridge’s history as well as the importance of the Erie Canal and the Tonawandas, would be fascinating reading to locals and visitors alike. My hope is that it won’t take Tonawanda as long to put up this plaque as it is for North Tonawanda to take down its signals and stop signs.


Hope it isn’t too late to heap some praise on the City of Tonawanda DPW workers who, after the last snow, removed the snow banks on Main Street and Seymour Street. What a great job. There we were in the middle of a horrible winter with snowbanks everywhere, impeding sight of drivers, making access to stores and businesses nearly impossible, and it was the DPW to the rescue. I didn’t think I’d see a curb until July and lo and behold, there they were. Thanks.


A visitor to the News office on Friday said she is as tired of hearing the TV station repeat and repeat the weather as she is of her husband’s snoring which, she said, drives her from their bed. She’s so right about the TV weather forecasters (I have no comment on the snoring) as it seems in a half-hour newscast, repeating the weather three times is over the top and very annoying. Isn’t once enough?

Out of the Past

Ed Balling, a native of North Tonawanda, now living in Baltimore, sent an email in response to the columns about St. Francis of Assisi School and its fight with the diocese.

“I had the pleasure of reading your column on the closing of St. Francis,” Ed emailed. “I too remember the Sundays spent there with my Dad working on parish projects. Even though we were not parishioners of that parish, my Dad seemed to always end up there. I also remember working summers with my Dad at Balling Construction and Uncle Hank (Balling) coming by to inspect. As I have not actually lived in the city for over 30 years, Sharon and I have visited many times and St. Francis has always been there. I sent a letter to the Bishop of Buffalo asking why the only Catholic school shared between two cities had to close, and got no response. I went one step further, and sent a letter to the Bishop of my Diocese asking him to ask the Bishop (Malone) why, and then let me know, and no response. I guess that being able to understand the need of your followers wasn’t part of Being Bishop 101A or B. I hope that those fighting to save the school succeed.”

Looking Back

On Wednesday, my grandson helped sort through all the boxes, boxes and boxes of saved items that have been squirreled away in my basement for years. The point was to get rid of the really old and keep the rest. We filled four large boxes of items that are no longer used to take to my sister in Alden who enjoys selling things at the Clarence Flea Market. The old bowling ball, mugs, Christmas decorations, a lemonade jug and so much more are now nestled in my car to be delivered tomorrow.

The best for me to keep (at least temporarily) are the boxes of letters that I received when I was in college from my brothers and their classmates, dad, mom, great aunt, cousins and summer job boss. My grandson could not get over how many pages each letter contained.

“We’d be texting or sending emails today and they wouldn’t be long at all,” he mused.

I spent two evenings reading the letters and what fun. My brothers, a year apart in age, were both at Notre Dame (at that time an all-boys school) and being several years younger, had just started at Marygrove College, an all-girls school. We girls sent the guys package after package of brownies and received thankful letters back. When my oldest brother graduated, he was drafted and my mother’s letters were full of concern about him and urged me to write to him often. My dad’s letters were the most fun, as he was always generous and often his letters included a reference to “the enclosed money” which he hoped was enough.

There’s one more box to go through and it’ll be a wonderful chance to relive a terrific part of my life.

Contact Community News Editor Barbara Tucker at or 693-1000 ext. 4110.

Contact Community News Editor Barbara Tucker at or 693-1000 ext. 4110.