Friday, July 1, 1988

1988 Vacation Niagara Falls, ON (7/1/1988)

Friday, July 1, 1988
July already! Up at 7:00, breakfast, and we left about 8:15. Cool and sunny and we were all in shorts except Kent. Got gas, and headed east to the Shoreway to I-90. Passed the Burke Lakefront Airport, which has been transformed into a Grand Prix racetrack. Paul Newman is supposed to “come home” (Shaker Heights) to race on Sunday.
Lots of hawks sighted as we drove along I-90. Made a pit stop in Pennsylvania. In New York there were good views of Lake Erie and glimpses of Canada beyond. Saw vineyards. And a brush fire along the highway median being tended by firemen. Some big clouds creating a cloud cover by the time we reached my parents’ home in Buffalo. My mom and sister, Kathy, were home, and served us lunch of fruit salad and a pasta salad with pepperoni. And we were just thinking we’d like some garlic! Good old brownies for dessert. It was just after 12:30 when we headed out down Main Street, detouring down Jewett Parkway to see the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Darwin Martin House. Went along Delaware Park to the Scajaquada Expressway, passing the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo History Museum, the statue of David, and Buffalo State College. Took I-195 to Peace Bridge, paying a 50 cent toll on the Thruway, then 50 cents to cross the bridge. Customs was very brief. Continued along the scenic Niagara Parkway, a very pleasant drive with some lovely homes. Drove through Niagara Falls, then back to look for parking. Found a free spot, but had a bit of a hike to see the Falls. Saw old power plants, a marooned barge in the rapids, and eventually looked over the brink of Horseshoe Falls.
Tamiko with Erich and Kyle (KSS)
Kyle photographs Erich, Kent and Tamiko
at Horseshoe Falls
Erich photographs Kyle, Kent, and Tamiko
Horseshoe Falls
Maid of the Mist boat
Watched the Maid of the Mist with people wearing brilliant blue raincoats. Kyle and Erich each paid a quarter to use a viewer. Returned to the car. They have banned parking along the road, but have set up parking lots and provided a “people mover:” a bus pulling a trailer. Looks like giant green scarabs! Found a restroom at the Greenhouse, whew! Lots of Indians and Asians picnicking and napping on the grass.
Had a snack in the car, and headed back the way we came. We were just a few of the millions of people who come to view the Falls throughout history. It is the site of the first hydroelectric plant. The Canadian, or Horseshoe Falls, are 176 feet high over a curving crest of 2200 feet. The American Falls are 184 feet high and 1075 feet across. The Bridal Veil Falls is the smallest at 181 feet and 56 feet across, and lies between the other two. The flow of water is equivalent to 1.5 million gallons per second! About ½ to ¾ is diverted for the generation of electricity. The first European to see the Falls was Father Louis Hennepin, a French priest, who came in 1678. The Falls are eroding about an inch per year, and at that rate will reach Buffalo in 130,000 years. Over 12,000 years ago the Niagara River started flowing over the Niagara Escarpment which is now seven miles away.
We decided to take a different route near Fort Erie, and a scruffy looking guy came up to tell us the road was closed because of the Friendship Festival, being the second annual festival between the neighbors of Fort Erie, Canada, and Buffalo, USA. The guy gave us directions to get to Peace Bridge. We paid our 50 cents and went through customs. Other people were being sent for further inspection.
The sun was finally out as we drove down Niagara Street to Niagara Square in front of City Hall. The kids commented on the “Junior Washington Monument,” the obelisk of the McKinley Monument. We drove across Main Street and the light rail tracks.  We passed Pilot Field, the brand new as of this year triple A baseball stadium for the Buffalo Bisons. In poured concrete with green metal trim in about the same style as the light rail stations downtown. Very big and impressive for a minor league field! We headed up Franklin Street, passing huge houses, and over to the Wilcox Mansion on Delaware Avenue, where Theodore Roosevelt was inaugurated as the 26th President after the assassination of William McKinley at the city’s Pan American Exposition in 1901. Buffalo has produced two Presidents; Millard Fillmore and Grover Cleveland. Other notables are William Fargo of the Wells-Fargo Stagecoach line, Trico that developed windshield wipers, Willis Carrier invented air conditioning, Wilson Greatbatch invented the pacemaker, and Alfred Southwick invented the electric chair. Mark Twain was a Buffalo resident and editor of the Buffalo Express newspaper. Other residents were authoress Taylor Caldwell, Edwin P Christy launched the Christy Minstrels here, and Buffalo composers penned “When Irish Eyes are Smiling” (co-written by Chauncey Olcott, who also composed “My Wild Irish Rose”) and “Over the Rainbow” (Harold Arlen). Michael Bennett of “A Chorus Line” came from Buffalo. We continue up Linwood Avenue to Delevan, then up Main Street back to my parents’ house. My mom and I walked to Bell’s Supermarket in Central Park to get $1 off coupons for the Buffalo Bisons game. We asked for 5 coupons, and got five books of 10 coupons!
We ate early, having Buffalo wings/chicken wings delivered, as well as beef on weck type sandwiches, salad, and carrots and celery with bleu cheese dressing. We left at 18:15 to walk the couple blocks to the LaSalle Metro station, and changed a couple dollars to get tokens and change. Bought tickets at 80 cents for adults, and 40 cents for children. Went down two sets of escalators, and a train came within five minutes. Even with this being the second stop on the line, the train was already standing room only. A ticket inspector came through carefully checking every ticket. We got off at Seneca and had one block to walk to Pilot Field for the Buffalo Bisons vs the Pawtucket Red Sox minor baseball game. We stood in the ticket line until it became obvious that they were sold out except for expensive single tickets. The kids were very disappointed, so we went in search of scalpers. A bagpipe band was playing at one entrance. We found someone with 4 tickets, seated in pairs, with a face value of $5 each.
Scalped Buffalo Bisons ticket
Kyle and I sat in section 122, and a couple bearded guys in neighboring seats informed us they only paid $3 for their seats. We felt lucky just to be there. The guy next to me had most of the fingers cut off his left hand, and he and his buddies wore shirts that said Canoers United National Team. They looked and acted like a motorcycle gang and kept buying beers and passing them down the row. The beer seller made the mistake of pouring three beers of a four beer order, and going off to get more beer without being paid. By the time he came back, the beer drinkers were so far gone that they couldn’t remember, and ended up not paying anything.
Every inning the announcer called a program number for a prize, and every other inning they had a special event, such as Earl the Bud, a black PeeWee Herman type dancing to “Tequila,” or Buster the Bison leading cheers. The scoreboard graphics were great in multi-colors. But the stadium needs a clock!
In the fourth quarter, Kyle and I went to find Erich and Kent in Section 116. They had a couple empty seats near them, which we took. Kent went to get drinks, and came back saying the food looked good. Pilot Field is supposed to have the best ball park food in the country. The Bisons won 4-1, despite or because of a middle-of-the-game argument by the PawSox manager, which got him kicked out of the game. Saw a balk called. After the game we stayed for the fireworks display, with music blaring out of the stadium loudspeakers. Quite a good show.
Afterwards, we went to the Metro station, but there were no dollar changing machines. We walked down to the terminus at the Auditorium, but no machines. We boarded a train and got seats, and rode through the fare-free zone downtown. Got off at the Theater station, and tried to get change at the McDonald’s, but the manager had just closed up. We walked to the Allen-Hospital station that was guarded by several policemen. They had a change machine, and we got our tickets and caught the next train to LaSalle. Back at my parents’ house, we put the boys to bed in Paul’s room, and Kent and I camped out on the living room floor.

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