Niagara Gazette


February 22, 2013

HAMILTON: Oh, yes! I remember Catherine Golanka


Niagara Gazette — Speaking to me only a bit milder, but just as much a matter-of-factly voice as she often chastised the council members, Mrs. Golanka said to me, to wit, “You know; you go up there and talk about Highland all of the time, but there are other issues in the city that you should speak about, too.”

Her words and she made me shudder; but at the same time, she opened my eyes to the fact that, despite the size of our name — Niagara Falls, and despite our ample diversity, we are still a very small city.

I cannot remember a single time that Golanka spoke exclusively on Polish community issues.

We Niagarans connect at virtually every point that connects anyone. The proverbial ‘six-degrees of separation’ is not the case here. Usually, there are only one or two people between each of us.

I can pull out of my driveway and into anyone else’s within 15 minutes, and never have to leave a Niagara Falls city paving crew’s street. We are one city, and we are one people; and from the day of the Golanka, I began to see it the way that she saw it.

I thank people like the now-Reverend Herman Boyer, Fred Brown, Eddie Palmore, Art Ray, Michael Brundidge, Doris Jones and a plethora of others who helped to direct me into service to my neighborhood. However, I also have to thank the Victoria Famas, Josephine Feras and especially the Catherine Golankas that inspired me to look past the Highland Bridge and to connect myself to the good of the entire city.

For those of you who did not know Mrs. Golanka, here is an example of the power of a single citizen.

Former City Council Chairman Anthony Quaranto tells the story of one wintry council meeting in which the only people in the room were the council, the clerk staff and the assigned police officer. No citizens had shown up on that blizzardly evening. Noticing that Mrs. Golanka was not present, as she almost always was, Quaranto instructed the police officer to go to her home, pick her up and to bring her to the meeting; because, as he said, “I am NOT going to have a meeting and have her saying that we did something behind her back.”

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a room full of Golankas at every governmental meeting? Well, It starts with you.

Contact Ken Hamilton at

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