Sunday, September 16, 2018

Reminiscing: Quick Memories Of Lockport

I was thinking about how so many things have changed around Lockport in the time since I was a kid. There are some things I really miss. Others are simply fun to talk about. I’m sure there are some people who are older than me will remember even more things, especially if they lived through Urban Renewal. Let’s see how many of these things you remember, too.

Who remembers when 7-11 on Davison Road had gas pumps out in front? I can just barely remember it. The pumps were gone by the time I started driving, but I clearly recall them out in front, near the roadway. There are a group of parking spots there now. I’m going to have to do some research in the papers as to when they were removed, and why.

When we first moved to Lockport, I was five years old. At the very end of Walnut Street, there was a blinking light for traffic control at Davison Road. I don’t that was there for very long after we move in. At that same corner, there was a huge tree. There were several accidents there as people who didn’t stop for the sign on Walnut came to an abrupt stop against that massive trunk. That tree survived several accidents before the County finally cut it down.

There used to be a small convenience store at the end of the street. I believe it was actually part of Spalding Hardware. It was Ken’s Convenience Store. It closed very shortly after we moved in. It may have closed the summer that we moved in. However, getting sent down to the hardware store was always a special treat for us. We were old enough and responsible enough to make the trip for something Dad needed. Plus, sometimes there was enough change for a piece of candy.

Speaking of convenience stores, Jiffy Mart II used to be on Union near Washington Hunt School. Another store that closed very soon after I started school, I can clearly remember getting in trouble for going over there after school when I should have been walking home. That wouldn’t be the only store I’d get into trouble for visiting on the way home from school.

Who remembers Budd Liquor on the corner of Harrison and Summer Streets? When I was going to Washington Hunt, we’d stop in there for football stickers or baseball cards. We’d get yelled at by the person working there, but he always took our money when we wanted cardboard images of our sports heroes.

I remember when Lockport had a recreation program in the parks. I played softball and soccer at Veterans Park on Elmwood (Now it’s Kibler Park). There were teams at the other parks that we’d have to play. Sometimes we traveled to Altro Park or Outwater Park for games. Sometimes, they came to our park. It was competitive and fun. I almost positive that this no longer happens. Between the great program at the Kenan and the travel teams where every parent thinks their kid is a superstar, the formative neighborhood programs have died out.

The Health Club on Elmwood was before my time, but I remember hanging out over there. It always amazed me how much equipment was left behind when it closed. And how easy it was to get into despite being boarded up. Many of you might have known that the health club used to be a part of the cotton batten plant. I think it was a warehouse for the plant, repurposed into the gym.

Right across the street, between South and Elmwood, were the ruins of the actual cotton batten plant. There wasn’t much there, but there was a path that ran between the streets, across the old site, that we would use to get to Vets Park. Of course, as curious boys, we would do some exploring. There were some pits there that were filled with debris. That didn’t stop us from jumping down there. Yeah, we were not that brilliant. Who knows what was down there? At any rate, we climbed all over the place, running on the crumbling concrete pads and jumping into or across the pits.

In that same neighborhood was the wooded area behind 7-11. There were trails all over the area. They were well marked area. People would ride bikes and dirt bikes back there. Sometimes when we were engaged in the woods on the south side of Walnut, we’d jump across the creek and run the trails across Tudor Lane and Park Lane Circle to the 7-11 trails. (That’s what we called them.) We’d end up right behind the store and buy our Slurpees.

Now it’s a hockey arena, but when I was a kid, Twin Fair had taken over the old Sears building. Later, it was Super Duper. Even later, it was Jubilee and Fays Drug Store. Super Duper was in the brick building at the corner of Washburn and Chestnut, now closed up and used as storage for the bank. I shopped at Super Duper in both buildings.

If you needed stamps, we’d go to the Post Office. Not the nice, new building east of Washburn Street, but at the federal building on the corner of Elm and East Avenue. It’s still a beautiful building, but it had obviously outlived its usefulness as a post office. Now it has some small businesses in it. It could really be a jewel downtown with even more small businesses calling it home.

There were some of the quick thoughts I had this morning as I was preparing for the Bills game. I thought it might be a little fun to think about some of these times. Are there other things that stick out in your minds?

Craig Bacon would rather write than watch the Bills right now. Of course, now that he's no longer interested, the Bills will probably pick up the pace.