Niagara Gazette — Let’s take a little visit back to the public schools as someone called with comments on the 39th Street School article written a few weeks back and I always like a little personal touch to these moments in history columns.
Gabriel Porto told me his father, Jasper Porto, was a hard working family man employed as a furnace man at Union Carbide. He also “tinkered” in property ownership and actually owned the land where the 39th Street School was built. It was taken from him by eminent domain and he realized very little if any profits. However, he was not discouraged and went ahead and purchased land nearby on Packard Road at 39th Street which he developed into a small plaza. Lo and behold, the New York State Power Authority came along and took this property, also by eminent domain, which was adjacent to the tunnel project they were building. To get a better idea of this area today, you can find a print shop and the Ironworkers Local at 412 39th St. nearby. Mr. Porto told me the family homestead was on 1722 Elmwood Ave. across from a grocery store owned by Americo Vacca and what is now Viola’s Submarine House.
He agreed with me that during these times you mainly stayed in the area you lived in. I have admitted previously that I knew little about Falls Street and Pine Avenue as I grew up in the North End in what was pretty much a self contained neighborhood. He said that was also the case in his youth as there were three grocery stores within eye distance of his house, Trusello’s Bakery on the corner and of course the City Market had just about everything (certainly fresh poultry as I learned) with Pine Avenue’s business district a short walk away. He often walked to Falls Street with his friends on weekends while I ventured onto Main Street during these times. Most of those in our age group did not drive back in the “fifties” and we actually walked to school. Imagine that! Anyway it was fun to reminisce.