Tonawanda News — As late as the 1970s, this sort of thing was the practice. North Tonawanda’s Melody Fair, near Wurlitzer Park, was a tent hosting summertime productions in the round, and an act like Danny Thomas or Englebert Humperdinck (ask your grandmother) essentially set up shop in town for a week. In between performances the star could be seen making the local rounds, on the antecedents of “AM Buffalo” and the like, shopping at the Broadway Market, visiting radio stations and making his or her presence known. The (several) newspapers would invariably run a photo; “Mitzi Gaynor Visits Veterans in Hospital” (ask your grandfather) or something similar, and thus was the publicity wheel greased.
Imagine Steven Tyler or Christina Aguilera doing that.
It’s different now. Of course it’s different now, but here forward, when I walk from my Kenmore home, past the space formerly occupied by the Wheel Chair Home to Starbucks and back, it’ll be with the knowledge I tread the same sidewalk Bing Crosby trod. What that’ll do to me is anyone’s guess.
Those of us of the historical bent cannot imagine going through life without knowing, and reveling in, this sort of stuff. Needless to say, a person can live a perfectly rewarding life without it, but the quality of life goes through the roof (this person’s roof, at least) when he or she has a grasp on life before his or her arrival.
Getting back to Mr. Crosby: Kenmore was essentially an outpost when it was installed as “the new suburb on the north” in 1899. Think of what the advent of radio did, roughly 1920, to and for those first intrepid settlers. Suddenly a home with a radio wasn’t such an isolated place to be. (I’ve browsed through local newspapers of the era, and every retail business along Delaware Avenue in Kenmore seemed to sell radios, phonographs and phonograph records.)