Tonawanda News — I daresay it’s one of those Western New York spots — like Fort Niagara and the Buffalo Zoo — that every children reared in the 716 area code has visited for at least one school field trip.
Until recently, my most vivid memory of the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park was a fifth-grade trip. Bored with the usual group of girls, I tagged along after a group of the boys for one last look at one ship where we hadn’t spent much time. I don’t remember which one ... this was 28 years ago.
And being 10- or 11-year-old boys, they thought it would be hysterical to try to lose me on the ship.
And they did.
To this day, I can picture what it was like to wander the corridors by myself, hearing nothing but echoes, wondering if my class would leave without me. The halls seemed to stretch on forever, and I was positive I’d been on there for hours. In reality, it had probably been minutes. When I emerged, the teachers hadn’t even realized I was missing.
But enough about my childhood trauma. In all those years since, I’ve paid precisely one visit to the park, getting an avid history lesson from my World-War-II-buff husband that I retained more for its enthusiasm than its content. But when the opportunity arose for our family to become members this past summer, I jumped at the chance.
Sam in particular is at the age where he becomes fascinated with nearly everything to which he’s introduced, from the frivolous — video games— to the serious — history and science in particular. I bought the Naval Park family membership Groupon with images of father-son bonding in my head, and an interest in Naval history being passed down to yet another generation.