Tonawanda News


January 17, 2014

ADAMCZYK: Memory so green you need a visual aid


Tonawanda News — An ice cream parlor in the Southtowns had a full-scale model cow, in either plastic or aluminum, perched over its front door, and when the kids in the back seat of the car saw her they knew ice cream for the well-behaved was waiting inside.

Yeah, well ... Kenmore had a billboard-size analog thermometer, telling the temperature and suggesting Simon Pure beer (“The best taste in town!”), adjacent to a building that became a Studebaker dealership and is now the site of an assisted living facility in the shape of a castle, so there.

So do photographs motivate memory, does memory motivate the taking of pictures, are they one-and-the-same but not identical, is there no connection, or what?

A South Carolina firm called Arcadia Press offers its services to anyone who’ll collect pictures of some place or thing. The firm will bind them into a book and sell it back to the collector/author, and a visit to any bookstore will indicate the popularity of the historical picture books in its “Images of America” series.

The Town of Tonawanda got the treatment in 1997, Kenmore in 1998. The slim books remain a mainstay of the local historical society, which sells plenty just before Christmas.

Browse through one of these and you notice that here-today-gone-tomorrow, ephemeral nature of even the sturdiest building you know. The place you get your eyes examined was once a meat market, after it was a saloon, after it was a vacant lot, and the building next door ...

Conversely, some things go on forever. There are storefronts on Delaware approaching their 100th year of use. They were erected in a building boom, here and elsewhere in the Buffalo area, shortly after the end of World War I, and they’re still doing business. Which is why one store has had, for years, an entranceway made of tiles that promote Buster Brown Shoes. Where have you gone, Buster Brown?

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