On May 28, 2014 the band Parousia appeared in an article published in Buffalo Rising, although not necessarily for flattering reasons; it’s like the old saying goes; “any press is good press”. The article delves into Buffalo notables from the past including bands, food, clubs and local celebrities; and that the audience shouldn’t expect to see any of these relics in Buffalo anytime soon, or ever again.
Parousia made #19 on the list: “Whatever Happened To Parousia?” You can scroll down and read the article, (it’s near the bottom, just before O.J. Simpson, “the juice”) but you do so at your own risk. SPOILER: it ends with the sentence, “Wonder if they used to buy their clothes at Spolka’s?”
Just need to point out, that its not that Parousia won’t ever perform in Buffalo again, it’s just that we haven’t had the right offer yet. $$$
The below article appears in its entirety, and includes the pictures published in the original article which the publisher later took down since I guess they didn’t have permission to use them and so let me say just this, “The article appears here for entertainment, historical and educational purposes only. All articles and photos belong to their respective owners.”
Buffalo is on the upswing these days. But that doesn’t mean that we should not pay tribute to some of the local “brands” that put us on the map in years past. To help relive the city’s halcyon days, movoto.com has compiled a list of 20 iconic, and now relatively obscure, mainstays of the past.
Ever heard of Rooties Pump Room (Rudy’s – the place that once claimed to invent the chicken wing)? Or did you ever try a Fasnachtsküchle? What was the original Uncle Sam’s? How ’bout Oil of Dog, ever listen to a show? Does Visniak’s ring a bell? Or parousia? If you said “yes” to any of these questions, then you are an old school Buffalonian. Give yourself a pat on the back.
At times, this is not the most flattering list, with references to The Juice and the city’s population decline. And then there’s the closing of The Continental and Freddie’s Doughnuts. But at the same time I bet that a few of these losses will someday be memorialized in ways that will pay tribute to the infamy that they once fastened for the city.
Who will be the first modern day go-getter to capitalize on the Fasnachtsküchle? Or Visniak’s? Thankfully, I think that we can leave the idea of milk vending machines behind for good!
Ok, here’s the list of 20 things that you’ll never see in Buffalo again… is that a challenge?
1. The Wing Wars Lose A Competitor
Source: Flickr user Yuri Long
While Buffalo’s Anchor Bar is world-famous for inventing the Buffalo wing—or, as it’s known in Buffalo, the wing—there are still a few local rivals who are so bold (downright zesty, in fact) as to challenge this so-called fact.
Rooties’ Pump Room is no longer around to press its 50-plus-year-old claim to fame, but at least Duff’s is still making sure that Buffalo doesn’t have a single undisputed wing king.
2. Doughnuts From Uhl’s Bakery
Source: Wikimedia user Andrew Bossi
Uhl’s Bakery was just a little family-run hole-in-the wall operation on Hertel Avenue, but it lasted for some 60 years. They were known for their Fasnachtsküchle, a cream-filled German goodie that was arguably one of Buffalo’s best donuts.
3. And Also From Freddie’s
Source: Vintage Buffalo NY via Facebook
Freddie’s Doughnuts was the Northern answer to Krispy Kreme, serving up sinkers hot from the fryer and dripping with warm, sweet glaze. They also had these peanut sticks that were just to die for, or at least to blow a diet for.
Freddie’s sold their last doughnut in 1989 (coincidentally, enrollment at Buffalo’s police academy soon experienced a sharp decline), and the building was razed to the ground some 20 years later.
4. Ja Fa Fa Hots’ Secret Sauce
Source: Facebook user Ice and Bites
Ja Fa Fa Hots was a hot dog stand-turned-pizza restaurant known for its classic car cruise nights and also its special “secret sauce.” I guess the secret’s safe now, since the restaurant closed for good a few years ago.
5. Superfreak Busted Out, Freaked Out And Checked Out
Source: Flickr user Noah Sussman
Rick James is hardly your typical Buffalonian (unless he changed his name from Jazdzewski), but he was nonetheless born and raised and got his start in Nickel City.
While his 1979 album entitled “Busting Out of L Seven” was dedicated to all his former Buffalo homies who had blown town (which he referred to as “the square root of nothingness”), James himself never did manage to make a permanent exit.
In fact, for the past decade he’s been putting down roots here…deep ones, six feet under, in fact. Hope he’s enjoying chillin’ with Millard Fillmore at their Forest Lawn Cemetery crib.
6. Rockin’ Out At Uncle Sam’s
Source: Vintage Buffalo NY by Pete Wilson via Facebook
Today Uncle Sam’s is the name of a Buffalo surplus store, but back in the day it was first a disco known for its funky reverse dance floor and later one of Buffalo’s earliest punk clubs.
Uncle Sam’s actually drew some pretty big names, too: Gang of Four, the Pretenders, the Plasmatics and the Ramones. At one point there were several other Uncle Sam’s clubs operated by the same management team in Detroit, Des Moines, and Minneapolis – the last of these even made an appearance in Purple Rain.
7. Spolka’s, Schmolka’s
Source: Facebook user St Adams
Spolka Clothes, now that’s a good Polish name. And the original owner was in fact, a Polish immigrant, but his name was actually Szczukowski. Wisely, he decided that naming the store after himself would pretty much doom any attempt at word-of-mouth advertising, not to mention any attempt to look the place up in the phone book years before Google autocorrect.
Anyway, the shortened name was a hit, and before the store closed for good in 2000, there were actually three Spolka’s: the original on Main Street, one on Amherst Street, and one in Detroit.
8. Spiked Hair And Cheap Drinks At The Continental
Source: The Continental, Buffalo NY via Facebook
The Continental was Buffalo’s premier ’80s punk/new wave club. They had some major acts play there, like Nina Hagen, Richard Hell and Johnny Thunders, as well as local acts with blast-from-the-past names like Zippy and the Pinheads and Ronald Raygun. The Continental also had super-low drink prices—hard to believe there was ever such a thing as 50 cent drafts.
9. Taking A Walk On The Wild Side At Frank’s Casa Nova
Source: Flickr user lumir beleza
Frank’s Casa Nova had quite a checkered career during the mid-century decades. It began as a high-class restaurant, then evolved (devolved?) after WWII into a lounge lizard-y kind of strip club with resident “artistes” by the names of Busty Russell and Bonnie the Baby Bombshell.
Frank’s tried to reinvent itself once more in the late ’70s, this time as a rock club, but that didn’t work out for too long. Soon afterwards, they embarked upon their final incarnation, that of the typical Buffalo derelict shell.
10. Someone Let The Dog Out
Source: Oil of Dog via Facebook
D.J. Gary Storm’s Oil Of Dog show on WBFO was the soundtrack for many an all-nighter. Staying up late to catch it left dark circles under the eyes of many a sleep-deprived Buffalo teen, but the show introduced them to some of the coolest music around.
11. Significant Population Growth
Source: Charles Dudley Arnold via Wikimedia
Buffalo’s population actually peaked in 1950, when it was the nation’s 15th-largest city. Ever since then, its numbers have been dropping dramatically, so much so that Buffalo’s now down to the same population it had back in the 1890s. Dash it all, chaps, now isn’t that a caution?
12. Unionized Grain Shoveling
Source: International Longshoremen’s Association – Grain Shovelers Local 109 via Facebook
If you’re shoveling grain in Buffalo right now, you, sir (or madam), are a scab! The Grain Shovelers Union Local 109 ceased to be in 2003. Once upon a time, Buffalo was the queen of the grain-moving ports, but…stuff happens. Wherever and however grain is being moved these days, it seems Buffalo’s now out of the loop, er, scoop.
13. Midnight Mass At St. Mary’s Redemptorist
Source: Flickr user Reading Tom
St. Mary’s has been down for the count since 1981 after a mere 137 years in the soul-saving biz. The lyceum, which is a fancy name for rec center, is the only part of the once-thriving church complex still standing, as the church itself burned down in 1986 and the convent was smashed by a wrecking ball in 1990. At last report, the lyceum is still up for sale, in case anyone’s interested.
14. Catholic Schoolgirls From Holy Angels Academy
Source: Wikimedia user Fortunate4Now
While Holy Angels Church has yet to join the long list of now-defunct Buffalo Catholic parishes, their affiliated all-girls academy closed down in 2013 after having been in operation for over 150 years.
15. Hasta Manana, Hengerer’s
Source: Flickr user Reading Tom
Hengerer’s was an old-time Buffalo-based department store chain that had its heyday, well, pretty much during the same years Buffalo was booming.
They opened up in 1876, and managed to last a good century or so, supplying generation after generation of Buffalo kids with school clothes and dubious memories of sitting on some fat hairy guy’s lap at Christmastime.
16. Dyngus Day Just Isn’t The Same Without Visniak’s
Source: Wikimedia user Ubcule
These “pure, healthful, refreshing beverages” that were said to be “made in a modern, sanitary daylight plant,” were a fixture in every VFW Hall, bingo parlor and bowling alley and everywhere fine Slavic soft drinks are consumed.
The name comes from the Polish word for cherry (perhaps another case of a business owner who thought to go for something simpler than his given name of Pijanowski), but it also came in birch beer, ginger ale, cola, club soda and grapefruit.
17. Mechanized Moo Juice
Source: Flickr user Cordey
Anyone remember going down to the corner to get a quart of milk out of a vending machine? Yeah, milk vending machines were an actual thing in Buffalo back in the ’70s and ’80s, seems like there was one on practically every street corner. By the ’90s, though, they seemed to be pretty much gone. Home milk delivery appears to be making a comeback of sorts, but the vending machines…not so much.
18. Time-Outs At The Genessee Show
Source: Flickr user Tim Sackton
Back in the ’60s, the historic (and now nonexistent) Genessee Theater used to have a Saturday matinee called the Genessee Show. Great fun for the kiddies, cheap babysitting for mom and dad, and a lot of bother for the ushers. They worked overtime trying to catch miscreant popcorn throwers in the act, at which point they’d march the juvenile offenders to the lobby and have them wait out there for 10 minutes or so before allowing them back in.
The Genessee closed in 1966, then re-opened for a brief run as a porn palace in the ’70s before being razed to the ground in 1985.
19. Whatever Happened To Parousia?
Source: Parousia via Facebook
They’re hard at work preserving their legacy via social media, is what. Guess they may be at or approaching retirement age now, so perhaps they’ve got time on their hands. Anyway, if the name doesn’t ring a cow bell for you, this Buffalo band of the ‘70s and ’80s, according to their Facebook page, “dominated the WNY club scene in the late 1970s and 1980s.”
They played their first gig at Holy Angels Academy, and went on to play both Frank’s Casa Nova and Uncle Sam’s as well as being featured on Oil of the Dog, so…wow, maybe they were some kind of jinx. Wonder if they used to buy their clothes at Spolka’s?
20. And The Juice Got Squeezed Out
Source: Flickr user Charles LeBlanc
O. J. Simpson is not a Buffalo native, for which the town is duly grateful He was, however, a local hero during his eight-year tenure with the Bills.
After he was traded to the 49ers, though, he said some not-nice things about the city, and, well, things just went downhill from there. The moral of this story is, do not diss B-Lo (or, ya know, murder people), or karma will get you one way or another.
Writer: Maria Scinto