Tonawanda News

June 15, 2013

TUCKER: Old photos bring fun memories

The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — A while ago, two old photos were unearthed at the News, one of an unnamed Catholic priest and the other an overhead shot of an unknown parish. After showing the photos to the retired priests at the Cardinal O’Hara priests’ residence and unable to determine who and where the photos came from, Ned Schimminger from the Historical Society of the Tonawandas took a look and could not help.

Then last week, Nick O’Connor, a cousin from Denver, Colorado who designed, made and donated the stained glass windows at the Riviera Theatre, came for a week’s visit. While at our house for dinner, mention was made of the old photos. He not only identified them, but the one of the parish was St. Christopher’s Church and school.

“You can see my house and our garage,” he pointed out. Seems Nick lived on Evergreen in the Town of Tonawanda, just two doors from the school, which he attended. He pointed out the altar in the former parking lot where a “drive through” Mass was said on Sundays. We laughed as he told story after story of him family’s life there and his experiences at the school.

He also knew that the other photo was Msgr. William Solleder, who was assigned as pastor in 1944.

The one thing Nick wanted to do on this trip was ride the Maid of the Mist. So he and my sister, with whom he was staying, decided Wednesday would be a good day .... never mind that the weather forecasters called for rain. And rain it did, but they went anyway.

“The rain was coming in sideways in sheets,” Nick said. He decided going inside was better than getting soaked. However, the two stopped at my house afterwards, both drenched and laughing at the adventure. He said his home is another 1200 feet above Denver and rarely gets rain, but a lot of snow. In fact, he said, the morning of the day he flew to Buffalo, it was snowing. It was 82 degrees here. 

Looking forward to his next visit.


Rarely has Stan Nicholson been wrong. But this week was probably his first mistake ever. He emailed to say how much he enjoyed the article on the Wurlitzer Company and of the descendants of the family who were in town. The article mentioned the Wurlitzer organ was played in a pizza parlor.

“Must take exception though to the idea of a Wurlitzer organ in a pizza parlor. In a rare occasion, perhaps a Wurlitzer ‘juke box’ but show me an organ in a pizza parlor and I’ll show you a new Peace Bridge to Canada.”

Well, get ready to see the new Peace Bridge, Stan, because there are pizza parlors, mostly out west, that feature the Wurlitzer organ as entertainment. Many of the organists who perform at the Riviera’s monthly organ concerts have, or are currently playing the organ in a pizza parlor.


Do you know anyone who likes bullying? Not me. But who seems to be the biggest bully around? How about our governor who thinks by bullying he can get the Peace Bridge moving? He’s making enemies of Canada, our country’s best friend and has even bullied the assembly and senate into endorsing his plan to end the binational panel. He’s trying to pressure Canadian to resolve the dispute over improvements to the U.S. side of the Peace Bridge.

Even usually quiet Assemblyman Robin Schimminger was quoted as saying “(The governor’s) appointees want to see it moved through this Legislature as a bludgeon, as a club against our Canadian friends on the Peace Bridge Authority. ...  I don’t like bullying,” he said.

Seems to me if the governor is looking to be a candidate for the presidency, as some have suggested, don’t do it by making enemies of our friends.


Did you know John Dubickas? If not, you missed a wonderful person whose passion was boats. We met him when he was a salesman for Colonial Ford in Tonawanda and we rented an RV from there for a trip to Florida. He was so personable, loved the Tonawandas and knew everyone, so it seemed. John later owned Duby Marine and was a member of the Antique and Classic Bort Society and Vintage Chevrolet Club of America. He was instrumental in bringing the Richardson boats in for a parade on the canal at an early Canal Fest. He was enthusiastic, fun and always ready to chat. He’ll be missed. Condolences to his family.

Contact community editor Barbara Tucker at 693-1000, ext. 4110 or email