Monday, November 9, 2009

Elderfield-Hartshorn Hardware Store circa. 1919

(Click photo to enlarge and see detail)

Here is a photo of the inside of the Elderfield-Hartshorn Hardware Store circa 1919.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

"Packard Court" by Jim Brunn

I grew up in the projects. Today, when someone says that phrase you usually think of poverty, crime, drugs, and guns. But in the 1940's and 50's, growing up in the projects was a great place to live.

Although known as the "Honeymoon Capital of the World, "Niagara Falls, New York, was a center for war-time industry. As a result of the influx of war-time workers, primarily from Pennsylvania, Alabama, and other southern states, housing was at a premium. Packard Court was built in 1941-42 and was meant to house families whose bread-winner was working in factories such as DuPont, Hooker, Carbide, Carborundum, Vanadium and others, producing material for WWII.

Due to a high school football injury, my father was deferred from military service and went to work at the Chemical Warfare Plant operated by DuPont Chemical here in Niagara Falls. Our family was the first to move in to the still-under-construction project, settling in apartment 8E right after the building was finished. The day was bleak, rainy and muddy, but the excitement of relocating from a farming community to the "big city" was palpable. And to make it even better, we were going to have our maternal grandparents in the next apartment, 8F.

Packard Court was a near-perfect community, with buildings in circles of about 6, and each center area holding a playground for the children. On the west side of the project, extending from the main road about a mile back was a dense hickory forest with a creek running through it. On the north side of the complex were fields that included wild strawberries and many areas of high brush, into which we could venture and see various wild life, as well as create our "forts." And this was in the city (long before the power authority conduits destroyed the forest)! The fields extended to Porter Road which was the site of the LeValley Stables (yes, with horses) and the SPCA. We would frequently venture there to pet the horses or spend hours in the SPCA playing with the dogs and cats. The horses were available for riding on the bridle paths that extended throughout Hyde Park.

Green space not only surrounded us on three sides but was included within the project. Many a football game (mostly tackle - and no helmets or pads!!) was played on the expansive lawns maintained by the management.

Our 2 bedroom apartment was tiny by today's standards, but we thought it was great. We had coal-fired furnaces and the outside coal bin had a slanted, hinged, cover that was the perfect angle for winter "skiing." We had both a front porch and a back porch, and our mothers would sit out on nice days with their coffee discussing the news of the day with the neighbors.

It was a friendly place. On weekends our parents would have card games around the kitchen table with their friends. Although when television came along, Friday nights were made for walking to Eli Roffle’s gas station & the Packard Diner to watch the Friday night fights. Saturdays evenings were saved for the 'Rasslin' matches watched over a freshly grilled cheeseburg and milkshake. Very few residents had a personal TV of their own. The Packard Diner became our gathering place for television and Eli’s service station was a great place to “hang out,” and Mr. Roffle was very kind to us kids.

Street lights made it possible to have evening games of kick the can, or hide and seek, with our parents simply having to hollar or whistle when it was time to come in for the night. Summer days were usually spent in the woods climbing to the highest branches of the hickories, swaying in the wind, or perhaps playing a game of "war" with sticks for our rifles and plenty of good cover. We frequently would collect hickory nuts that our parents would crack and extract the nut meats for cookies or brownies or just nibbling.

Winter provided a chance to ice skate on the frozen creek, which extended several miles north before doubling back into Hyde Park Lake, where the city would clean the snow off with a bulldozer.

It took quite a few months for the completion of construction and the filling of the apartments, but when they were occupied we had a ready supply of friends our own age, many of which were kept for years afterwards. We lived in the projects for 11 years before our parents bought their first house.

Today Packard Court is a subsidized, low-income housing facility, recently renovated, and looks better today than it ever has been. The hickories are gone, replaced by baseball and soccer fields, and a new high school sits on the strawberry fields, but the great memories of a wonderful place in which to grow up will never be forgotten.

Jim Brunn

Apt 8F – at the time was one story 3 room apt.

Children outside - note the cars in the background!

Harold and Kay Quinn sitting on their back porch – Harold was an owner of Quinn and Keller Appliances in the 300 block of Third St.

Having morning coffee on back porch of Apt. 8E – Note the coal bin

Herold Woodring (visitor) and John Brunn standing outside Apt 8F c1945

Jim Brunn hiding behind great-aunt Eva Woodring c. 1946

Judy Brunn c1944 – buildings in background are around #20-22

Mary Woodring standing by the family sedan

Bob Woodring, who was a welder at DuPont following service with the US Army during WWII built the basketball “net”. Bob was an outstanding player in the Industrial Basketball league.

Circa 2009

Circa 2009

Circa 2009

Welcome Back Polish Nook!

2242 Cudaback Ave, Niagara Falls, NY
(716) 282-6712‎
Hours - Wed to Sun 3pm-9pm

Yes folks, the restaurant is once again back in business and the food is as good or better than it ever was. It has started serving customers since last Friday. There has not been any public advertising as yet, but that will began in a week or so. So far it is by word of mouth, and that is how my wife and I wound up going there this evening for an excellent dinner for two! We had their Polish Platter and Steak and Shrimp dinners.. The meal included desert & coffee. The prices are excellent! Our cost for the two delicious meals was only S23.00!

They have a good selection of both Polish and Italian foods.

John, the former owner of "Johns Flaming Hearth" is now the owner of the' POLISH NOOK.' The combination of foods served at both former restaurants, should please all the former patrons of both restaurants. It is certainly a welcome addition to this area of the city and we wish them much success. This is what the city needs, more local investment by local entrepreneurs. We, my family and I, encourage the local people to make it a point to support this local effort to re-establish a lost business in the city! You can do this and enjoy great food at the same time!

Review by Terry L. Equils

Vintage Photo: Elderfield-Hartshorn Hardware Company

(Click image to view enlarged photo)

Original 8x10 photo from Hotel Niagara dinner, 1938 for Mr. Hartshorn.
The Niagara Gazette published the photo in 1938 and the newspaper clipping indicates the following. "Pictured above are employees of the Elderfield-Hartshorn Hardware company gathered about the banquet table at a birthday dinner given Wednesday night at the Hotel Niagara in honor of Eugene G. Hartshorn, vice-president of the company. Mr. Hartshorn is completing his fifty-fourth year in the hardware business and will be 75 years old on April 15. He may be seen seated at the dinner table left of the center candelabra. "

My grandfather Tom Donato, worked at Elderfield-Hartshorns for many years after returning from service in France during WWI until it closed.

Memories of Elderfields?
Submitted by S Carr


Vintage Jenss on Main Street Memories

Click either image to see the enlarged photos!