Tonawanda News

October 19, 2013

TUCKER: Lost photo presents a puzzle

The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Ryan Proefrock of North Tonawanda found the accompanying photo near the curb while walking on Military Road near Sheridan Drive on Friday. On the back of the photo is a note: “Dad — John Sullivan.” If you know anything about the photo, call or email me at the News. Ryan would love to hear about the young man in the photo and how it ended up in the street. Ryan served in the Air Force and thinks the young man in the photo is in a military uniform.

Cemetery find

Last week, Barbara Markusic from Indianapolis, Ind., emailed regarding the story of Jacob Dawson’s Eagle scout project at Poole Cemetery in Pendleton. She wanted to thank Jacob for helping her find where he ancestors are buried. Holly Dawson, Jacob’s mom, emailed Barbara who was also seeking information about the VanSlykes who she thought were also buried there. Holly emailed Barbara to tell her that there are VanSlykes in the cemetery.

“It is amazing how a story can touch so many,” Holly wrote. “I found out another person I have known through family for years who has been searching for the Poole cemetery for quite awhile and was quite excited about the article. ...  The project and the story have made many people happy and have had a greater impact than we could ever have expected.”

Women of Distinction

What a treat to see so many women recognized for their work and talent at the Women of Distinction dinner last Wednesday. In addition, six high school seniors were also honored for their extensive commitment to school and community.

Sitting next to Ruth Hacker, a very long time volunteer in the gift shop at DeGraff Memorial Hospital, was a special treat. Ruth attended the event to help celebrate the accomplishments of Mary Brown, nursing director at DeGraff. During dinner, Ruth relayed the story about the largest and most elaborate Wurlitzer organ which is a show-stopper at Organ Stop Pizza in Tempe, Arizona. Ruth has been there many times and said she had photos and a newspaper article on the organ. And, true to her word, she stopped at the News on Monday to share the photos and article. What a treasure. Some of the pipes are 32 feet high. Each of the 5,500 pipes were crafted in the same process organ builders used hundreds of years ago. The organ was purchased in 1927 with some of the pipes dating back 1918.

At this point in the story, Ruth said when the organ’s history is told, she always adds “made in North Tonawanda!” The photos show how the restaurant installed the numerous percussions and traps and the platform on which the organ rises from a pit not unlike the one at the Riviera.

Thanks, Ruth.

Showing off

Mickey Sheldon from Tonawanda called to express her thanks to the City of Tonawanda Fire Department for hosting an amazing open house last week.

The firefighters honored breast cancer survivors by wearing their pink fire department shirts. “Only real men wear pink,” Mickey said.

Even “Sparky” the fire dog, wore pink. The firefighters sold shirts and, in fact, ran out of them.

“Chief Stuart came to my house to give me his,” Mickey, who is a breast cancer survivor herself, said. “There were lots of hugs from the big guys who were truly amazing.”

More than 200 adults and children attended and enjoyed all the events. No news yet on what family won a ride on the fire truck from their home to the fire hall to have dinner with the firefighters. What a fun prize.


Several readers commented on last week’s thought about what America and its politicians have become.

Here’s another one: “You can have pornography on TV or the Internet, but you better not put a Nativity scene in a public park during Christmas” or, how about: “We still have freedom of speech, but only if we are being politically correct.” 

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