Friday, February 19, 2010

Brief History of First Presbyterian Church of Niagara Falls

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On April 3, 1824, five citizens met under the leadership of the teacher-educator Rev. David Smith to form the First Presbyterian Church of Niagara Falls. The persons who were the actors in this scene were Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Smith, Mrs. Isaac Smith Jr., Mrs. Stephen Childs and Abraham Mesler.

The original Board of Trustees of the First Presbyterian Society of Niagara included some of the area's most prominent citizens and founders of Niagara Falls. In addition to the original five organizers were Augustus Porter, Samuel DeVeaux, Ira Cook and Ziba Gay.

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Judge Porter was the first permanent European settler of the area, and along with his brother General Peter Porter, owned Goat Island and all the lands in the area. The famous Native American Orator, Chief Red Jacket and General Lafayette were frequent visitors to the Porter household.

After building a wooden church where "Old Falls St." now runs, the present church was erected at its current location out of native stone in 1849 at a cost of $8,000, including the cost of the lot. Judge Porter donated the land and much of the furnishings for the new church, that sports 2 foot thick walls. The original bell still rings in the bell tower today.

The original church building had a steeple and in 1850 a clock was installed in said steeple. It was known as the "town clock" and had it been allowed to run down, the whole village would have been thrown off schedule. Therefore, Max Elbe, the son of the village jeweler, was hired for a dollar a month to climb up every week and wind and oil the clock. Once the church wanted a lamp post installed in front of the building to light up the doorway, so they advised the village officers that they had the use of the clock free, therefore, the least they could do in return was to install the lamp post. Later, the village appropriated $52 per year for the clock, but this was eventually cut from the budget and the clock allowed to stop. It never ticked again after 1896 and was taken down with the steeple in 1914.

In 1879 a large addition was constructed at the rear of the church to house the ever-growing Sunday School. Said Sunday School was begun by Judge DeVeaux in 1827. DeVeaux, an Episcopalian, transferred to that church when one was formed in Niagara Falls. A growing congregation necessitated the enlargement of the Sanctuary in 1889 when a large addition was constructed on the south side of the church.

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Members of First Church have been instrumental in founding several of the other churches in Niagara Falls. Among those was the Presbyterian Church at 10th St. and Niagara Ave. in 1853; and other members also founded the Congregational Church at 822Cleveland Ave. In 1893, Pierce Ave. Presbyterian Church was founded, and in the late 1920's the spirit again moved First Church to mission work at home and led to acquisition of property in the DeVeaux and Evershed sections of the city for branches of First Church. Third Presbyterian was merged into First Church and the new facility on 59th St. was named Bacon Memorial Church, in honor of Rev. Albert S. Bacon, who was pastor of First Church from 1890-1925, the longest serving pastor in in the church's history.

In 1970 the church was scheduled to be demolished as part of the city's Urban Renewal program. Fortunately, the congregation's fight to save the building was successful and this magnificant facility
still proudly stands as the symbol of Niagara's oldest church.

(Submitted by JB)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Gaskill Jr. High School Band, circa 1955

Submitted by Jim Brunn:

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I began my “music career” on the violin in 6th Grade at Niagara Street School. My grandfather, Ernie Woodring, had played violin and it was decided that I should also play that particular instrument. Other than “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” I didn’t progress with any kind of proficiency. When I entered junior high school the music teacher decided he needed a cello player rather than another squeaky violin, so cello lessons were begun. I actually became reasonably good at reading music and playing along in the orchestra. That career on the stringed instruments ended when I was graduated from high school because I was using a school loaned instrument and cellos are very expensive.

I had always wanted to play a trumpet and when I asked to take trumpet lessons at Gaskill the music teacher said, “Trumpet players are a dime a dozen. You should play something that will always be needed…… a baritone horn”. I had no idea what a baritone horn was, but being the easily influenced child, I said OK. Once again, the teacher was correct, and I became a baritone player. Then as the years went along, the school band was in need of a tuba player and I was told it was just a larger baritone horn and didn’t I really want to play such a commanding instrument? Of course I said yes, and I became the new tuba/sousaphone instrumentalist. I loved those years in the school bands, especially when I went to (the old) Niagara Falls High School where a new music teacher/bandmaster was hired, Mr. John Hadden. He had experience with and instituted a marching band where we actually performed at half time at football games. Mr. Hadden was a great guy and he and his wife and I became long-time friends.

Here is a photo of the Gaskill Jr. High School band, circa 1955, led by Mr. Howard Shotz. Names I can recall are, first row left, Jim Brunn, baritone horn; back row left, Ernie Dishaw, tuba; standing to the right of Mr. Shotz, Carl Brenner; second row, second from the right, Paul D. Beam, horn. While the names of many others are on the tip of my tongue, memory being a fleeting issue I don’t recall them. I’m sure some of your readers could further identify those in the photo.

Fortunately, the current music programs at our high school have produced some award-winning groups and the city should be proud. We must fight to keep those programs intact and even expanded.

Over the Niagara Gorge

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This is the first bridge to be erected to Canada at the same site as the present Rainbow Bridge. It was built in 1867-68, and opened Jan. 2, 1869. It was designed by Samuel Keefer, a civil engineer, and consisted of wooden towers, with steel cables and a wooden structure suspended below them. The roadway was only 10ft. wide and only one (horse-drawn) vehicle could cross at a time. The flow of traffic was controlled by a bell at each end. There were stairs in the tower on the American side and an elevator on the Canadian end, so the top of the towers could be used as observation posts. The bridge was rebuilt beginning in 1873, replacing the wooden towers with steel, and iron trusses suspended by cables for the larger-sized, 17 ft. roadway. It was this later bridge that collapsed in a most violent wind storm.

(Submitted by JB)

Their Ads vs. Our Reality

Originaly Posted in July 2008:
Establishment(s) visited: Burger King on Military Road and KFC on Niagara Falls Blvd.

Its Summer and the grills in Niagara Falls are alive, with the smells of sirloin. So why on Earth would anyone visit Burger King when they have the option to slap a heavenly patty of red meat on the backyard barbeque? Because I ran out of propane. Minutes later I find myself at the Military Road
Burger King ordering one of those Steakhouse Burgers... ya know the ones that are advertised every five minutes on network television? Well, if you haven't seen it, here is how the King presents it:

After seeing how awesome it looked on TV and in print ads, it had to be mine! Unfortunately, what I got instead was this:

If I really could "have it my way," I would go with the one I thought I was buying, the big fluffy, juicy burger with fresh lettuce and crisp bacon like they show in the ads... not the sloppy mess that I received. Ah well, teaches me the value of my backyard grill. This experiment was inspired by the Ads vs. Reality site, where you can find a bunch of these types of comparisons.
PART TWO: The Lying Colonel

On the way home from the Chambers abode, I stopped for a little bucket of southern fried chicken parts. To my dismay, the headless voice on the ordering menu stated in a crackled tone, "SORRY - WE ARE OUT OF CHICKEN." Hmmm... 8pm on a Sunday night, and they are out chicken? Kentucky Fried Chicken... is out of chicken? Wow. My cholesterol thanks you Colonel Sanders, but my taste buds are flipping you the bird (pun INTENDED). After being denied some of that grease dunked fowl, I remembered a couple photos I had on file of my last KFC order several months ago (intending on posting it then!).

This is the bucket of chicken they advertise you'll be getting with the big 'ole crispy, juicy pieces:

Here is one of the actual pieces that was nestled in the bucket of artery clogging doom:

Does this skanky little parakeet wing look anything like the giant crispy pieces offered in the bucket above? Not even close. After cracking past the crispy coating, nothing was inside but a small puff of day-old air... just like in the cartoons. So basically, my 4 piece dinner was only a 3.25 piece. First that, now the fact that they "ran out of chicken" on a weekend...DAMN YOU COLONEL! (I should'a known not to trust him
simply because the way you say and spell "Colonel" just doesn't make any sense!)