Niagara Gazette — EDITOR'S NOTE: Falls Street Louie, a fixture for decades on the street that bears his name, made a surprise visit to the Cataract City during the holidays, after a long absence. Louie has witnessed the rise and fall of the South End — several times.
You could have spotted him nearly a block away. It's hard to miss such a colorful character: That bright yellow slicker and hood with the big black "Cave of the Winds" letters on the back. He kept the raincoat after a free trip on the attraction in the 1990s.
Louie! What in the world brings you back to town?
"What was you expecting, some medicine man with another quick fix for development? Heard about all the big changes and wanted to see for myself."
So, what do you think?
"Shocked at first. When I seen some guys running around in white coats. I thought maybe the hospital had moved part of its operations over here. Then I seen that new cooking school (the culinary institute) and that's really great. You gotta wonder though where all them cooks are going to work when they graduate. Let's face it, there's no family restaurant on this street, kind of dumb planning, if you ask me."
Bet you'll have a different impression when you see that casino at the other end of the street.
"That's nothing compared to Vegas. Remember I'm a gambler from way back and I used to enjoy them bookies here. They had that personal touch. If you was hurting for a few dollars, they'd cover you. The casino don't look out for nobody. You start getting low on cash and they point you to an ATM."
I'm sure you know, Louie, that New York didn't legalize casino gambling — it couldn't pass the Legislature — so we ended up with three Indian-run casinos in Western New York.