Niagara Gazette — Recalling Erie Avenue a few years ago, I sat down with A.B., “one of the city’s grand pioneers, a man with a memory like an elephant and a lifetime of stories he is willing to share with anyone who can afford the time it takes to listen to them.”
His uncanny ability to recall the past is a benefit of having been in various businesses here for more than 50 years, much as a tax and business consultant.
“Many of our clients today are the grandchildren and great grandchildren of the clients we served way back when,” he smiled.
When I asked him about Erie Avenue, he leaned back in his chair, closed his eyes and took me for an imaginary walk along the red brick street as though it was right in front of us.
A.B. noted that Erie Avenue, which ran from the end of Falls Street southeast to Buffalo Avenue south of the New York Central railroad tracks, gave a lot of people their start in business. He remembered the Busy Bee Grill, Fadel’s Service Station, the Fifty-One Club, Levy Brothers Furniture warehouse, even the Salvation Army and Otey’s Café and the New Royal Restaurant not far from the National Biscuit Company’s Shredded Wheat plant.
When I asked him what made Erie Avenue memorable, he said it was the entrepreneurial spirit of the people who lived and worked there that made it all work.
He suffered his share of tragedy, often carrying other’s burdens to the extreme, but he never complained, placing his faith in God.
Handing out “Hug Cards” that he had made up to offer to people in exchange for a warm, “therapeutic hug,” A.B. often quoted two of the plaques he kept hanging on the walls of his ever busy office.