Tonawanda News


January 5, 2013

Catching up with old friends


Tonawanda News — “Another angle that I recall was asking my parents ‘Why do so many people come in and out of the basement of that place?’ I couldn’t help but notice as I was waiting for our pizza. Apparently, I was too observant for my own britches, because I was briskly told to just mind my own beeswax.

“My Dad passed away when I was 10 so I never got an explanation. ... My question to you is this. Was that Tonawanda La Nova Pizza the pre-curser to the Todaro-owned, now famous La Nova in Buffalo? The recent death of Joe Todaro Sr. is making the memories flood back.

“... Only in the last 10 years have I heard stories of how my ancestors got through the tough times of the Depression. Recently-passed great-uncle Bill explained to me that, as an aspiring young attorney, he worked his first job at the Telephone Co. One of his first assignments was to investigate why there were 13 phone lines running into the building at 22 N. Niagara St. It seems that after his insufficiently insured “Frank O’Connor” freighter sank, great grampa “ran book” to make ends meet at his ship chandlery.

“If I’m not mistaken, I recall newspaper accounts of the Todaros being accused of running gambling junkets on a plane. It is pretty hard to raid an in-flight plane. Ingenious!”

Kevin asked the Historical Society of the Tonawandas the same question and Carole Barnard said the city directories, sources of invaluable information, found that yes, the owner of that business (43 S. Niagara St.) was Joseph Todaro.

Indeed Kevin’s hunch was right. Here at the News, we have a large file on Joseph Todaro, mostly stories from the  70s which outline his brushes with the law and noting that he started his La Nova in Tonawanda.

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