Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Harvard Cup Football Packs It In - Sardine Style!


Courier Express October 22 1948

Civic Stadium - Jefferson at Best Streets
   The largest sports crowd in Buffalo history-50,988-saw an alert Kensington High School football team, batter previously unbeaten Bennett, 26-8 last night in Civic Stadium, in the first Harvard Cup grid game ever contested under the lights.
   Civic Stadium ripped, rocked, roared and nearly burst it's concrete seams last night as the largest crowd ever to attend a local sports event,  jam packed the Best Street bowl to watch two high schools vie for football honors. The crowd figure was the official turnstile count as announced by James V. Carney, director of Civic Stadium and Memorial Auditorium. The previous all time attendance mark was set last season when the Buffalo Bills and the Cleveland Browns attracted 43,167 to the same stadium. School children of all ages, and adults too, took up every conceivable inch of space in the stadium which ordinarily seats 37,064, to watch Bennett High School and Kensington High school tussle it on the gridiron in the first Harvard Cup series game ever contested at night.
  A record Buffalo Sports turnout of 50,988, occupying every 
  seat in the steeply banked saucer and overflowing all around the 
  track and field, watched Kensington defeat Bennett, 26 to 8 in a 
  Harvard Cup Football game last night in Civic Stadium.
  C-E Photo
  The victory, achieved with surprising ease, was Kensington's third of the season and extended the defending Harvard Cup champions' unbeaten streak to ten over a two year span. Bobby Wilde, a brilliant, deceptive T-quarterback who amazed the huge throng with his ball-handling wizardry; Chris Frauenhofer, an explosive scat-back, Carl Wyles, a power-running fullback, and Jack Thompson, who turned in a magnificent performance at end, covered themselves with glory in the Knight's decisive triumph.
  As a lopsided moon looked down with no little wonderment, the high schools of the city unleashed all the noise and color they could conjure, and under an onslaught of bands, sirens, cowbells and shrieking voices, windows rocked in houses in three counties. Considered to be the greatest boost to high school football since the inauguration of the Harvard Cup series, the event had an advance sale of 50,057, and although no tickets were sold at the gate, dazed officials estimate that another thousand crashed the gates by fair means or foul.  Where they all sat remains a mystery, although it's a known fact the small fry were able to squeeze as many as four into a space ordinarily occupied by one.  At any rate they filled the seats solid from top to bottom. They choked the aisles, They throttled the section entrances. They overflowed the stands, and formed a three-deep ring of noise around the playing field.  
1958 Harvard Cup, Bennett Vs. Riverside
(Photo Courtesy Richard Kozak)
  The  color of the affair was enough to shame the light of a bright moon and the concerted wind from nearly 51,000 screaming throats must have blown all the clouds from the sky. The night was clear crisp, bright and very noisy with youthful exuberance.  According to police Inspector Peter J. Flood, who was in charge of stadium detail, the gates opened at 6:20 p.m. for a waiting crowd of about 5,000. By 7:15, there were more than 30,000 in the stands, and from then on in they never stopped coming. 
   The real action got under way when the orange and blue Bennett Band pitted lungs against the green-gold-white garbed musicians from Kensington.  But that was just a small drop in a large bucket.  At a drum roll and gunshot signal, a circus performance staged by all the High Schools got under way. Youthful performers, dressed in all sorts of costumes, leaped atop wooden stages spaced at intervals around the stadium track, and put on their specialty acts.
Bennett Snow Game 1957
   The acts Included everything under the sun and even a few from under the moon. There were tumblers, acrobats, dancing Scottish lassies, cavorting clowns, cowboys on horseback, trick rope artists, a girls burlesque football team, accordion players and a wailing, discordant German band. After that came, the parade, introduced with a fanfare of trumpets that were only  a pinpoint of sound in an ocean of bedlam. South Park, Emerson Vocational, Burgard, Girl's Vocational and Bennett presented floats which drew ear-shattering roars from the crowd. The floats included Burgard's atomic, hydromatic, dynaflow training car, a Gay 90's Schmoos, a stuffed Bennett Tiger mounted on a truck and a red and silver float depicting ladies-in-waiting before the queen of Girl's Vocational. 
  Things really got hot during the individual introduction of both schools' team members over the stadium loud speaker system, and a crescendo of sound reached a new high as each lads name, weight and position were read off. After team introductions, bands, baton twirling majorettes, color guards and drum majors paraded out onto the field and stood at attention at the east end of the field. The teams of both schools, trim and fresh looking in clean uniforms, formed at the far end of the gridiron.  At the first strains of the National Anthem, the restless noisy crowd quieted amazingly and the sound of it rising to its feet was a vast rustle in the night. It stood, bareheaded and at attention as Miss Gertrude Lutzi, accompanied by the Bennett and Kensington bands, sang the Star Spangled Banner.
Kensington vs. Bennett 1958
(Photo Courtesy Richard Kozak)
  There was a hush as the last note faded, then the stadium erupted into a vertex of sound, as noise makers and healthy young throats conspired to establish some sort of record for noise.  Cheer leaders from both schools spun in the air along with their megaphones. A whistle blew. A football soared in the air. The game was on, and the lid was really off then for the next couple of hours.  

Editors Note:  As of 2018, the 51,000 attendance is still the largest crowd to ever watch a high school football game in New York State and the country.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010


    Perhaps the most enigmatic of all American stamps, the "Buffalo" balloon stamp is certainly among the premier rarities in aerophilately. This stamp begs the question, “What is an airmail stamp?” Described variously as “experimental,” “semi-official,” “a carrying label,” and even as a vignette or cinderella, the fact remains that it was the first of its kind ever issued. Since it was privately issued for use with a standard U.S. postal service 3-cent stamp to pay for air handling of a mailed piece, it was (if one includes both private and government issues) the world’s first airmail stamp.
  The stamp is an accurate representation of the enormous 92,000 cubic foot “Buffalo” balloon of Professor Samuel Archer King (1828-1914), and was designed by John B. Lillard, a clerk in the Wheeler firm and a passenger on the great flight. The engraver of the stamp was John H. Snively, a scientist who provided apparatus for experiments on the flight. The Buffalo balloon launched from Nashville, Tennessee, on June 18, 1877, and dropped a number of covers, probably in containing envelopes or drop bags sewn to brightly colored nine-foot streamers.  After a Gallatin, Tennessee, landing, there was a second flight the next morning. There were also other, later flights of the "Buffalo", and covers could have been flown on any of those flights.
   Few if any Buffalonians realize not only was the balloon named, honoring this city, "Which has shown so much interest in Aeronautics"(S.A. King), it was actually built right here in Buffalo, quite possibly the first aircraft ever built in the city.  The story follows.

Buffalo Courier Aug. 2, 1873 - Buffalo Morning Express  Aug. 3, Commercial Advertiser 
A Stamped Cover Flown in King's Balloon "Buffalo"
  For some time, past arrangements have been in progress the design of which was to induce Professor S. A. King, the celebrated aeronaut, to visit Buffalo for the purpose of making a Balloon ascension. The gentlemen having the matter in charge desiring to have the ascension a little more noteworthy than is usual on such occasions and also to have it in some benefit to the cause of science... Having satisfied themselves that the requisite amount of funds to defray the expenses of the undertaking, would be cheerfully subscribed by our liberal minded citizens, they opened a correspondence with Prof. King inviting him to come on with his monster balloon "Collossus" of about ninety thousand feet.  But the "Colossus" proved to be an unlucky balloon, having been twice wrecked by storms when fully inflated...and although well repaired, she was not considered by Prof. King to be just the thing.  He therefore replied that he would accept the proposition made to him, but instead of using the "Colossus" would come to Buffalo and build a new balloon to be named after the place of residence of those through whose liberality, the means for it's construction were to be forthcoming.
Prof. Samuel Archer King
    The co-operation of Prof. King being secured, it was found necessary to build a balloon expressly for the ascension. This work has been going on for several days and as public curiosity has been excited to a great extent regarding this matter, a reporter  of the Express called on Prof King yesterday for the purpose of gaining such information as would be of interest to our readers.
Since Prof. S. A. King has been in town, the public pulse has been felt with regard to raising funds for the proposed ascension, and the response has been unexpectedly liberal. Buffalo is advancing in both population and enterprise, and little matters of this sort show the fact. Thursday the cloth for the balloon was bought. The cloth selected is that which combines in the greater degree the qualities of firmness and lightness. Through the kindness of Capt. E. P. Dorr, a large room in the Aetna Insurance Building has been placed at the disposal of Prof. King, and the bag of the balloon will be built there.  The work of cutting out was commenced yesterday, and it is a very scientific operation. Those who have never investigated the work would be astonished to see how much mathematics are required in perfecting the pattern. Next in order will be the stitching. When the bag is subsequently varnished, all will be in readiness, as the car, net, etc. are already built. ...It will be the largest airship that ever rose in the country.
Aetna Insurance Buildings ( left) Where Balloon was constructed
Prime & Lloyd St.
  The Professor was found in a large room in the Aetna Insurance Co.'s building (Prime & Loyd Streets), busily engaged in supervising the construction of his airship, which is to be one of the largest size. The bag is to be of the best Wamsutta Mills cotton, of which fourteen hundred yards will be used. The cloth was first cut from patterns prepared by the Professor, and is now being sewed into five sections of twelve breadths each as a preliminary.  The cotton cloth is joined by a raised seam about an eighth of an inch wide, sewed twice  in order to secure strength. Stays, made of four thicknesses of cloth and about one half inch in width, are next sewed on to morning the sections horizontally and thirty nine inches apart. There are to be twenty four of these stays on the balloon. The sewing of these stays having been finished, the several sections will be seamed together, the seams joined, then the bag will be ready for varnishing, which process will take about two weeks, several barrels of varnish being required, together with the utmost care, to prevent the spontaneous combustion of the whole mass.
 The work involved in construction will be seen in a glance to be considerable. The seams are each 95 feet in length from "valve" to "neck," 60 in number, each done twice, make 3,800 yards of stitching, while the stays require nearly as much more. This work is being done on seven Singer Sewing Machines, operated by girls, who are under the immediate supervision of the professor.

The balloon, when inflated, will be in the form of a sphere, excepting of course, the elongation of the neck. The circumference will be about 170 feet, the diameter 56 feet. It will contain 90,000 cubic feet of gas, having a supporting capacity of about 3,600 pounds.  The height from the bottom of the car to the top of the bag, will be about 82 feet.
   The network, car and anchors are ready, having been forwarded from the east some days ago. The network is of cotton twine one hundred and forty three threads each, each cord being strong enough to maintain between three to four hundred pounds. The car is of basket-work, oval in shape, with an out-rigged side and back for seats, and will accommodate fourteen persons, although it is not likely that more than six will make the ascent.  In addition there will be a smaller basket fastened to the rings above.  Two anchors will be carried, one an ordinary boat's anchor, for catching in the ground, the other a grapnel for roots, bush or fences. The gas will be controlled by a valve in the top of the balloon, twenty-five inches in diameter, which when opened will permit gas to escape at the rate of a thousand feet a minute. As a safeguard against accidents, a collapse chord is inserted in the side of the balloon in such a manner, that a strong pull will open an entire breadth, permitting all the gas to escape at once. This will be only used in case of great danger, such as would be occasioned by the dragging of the car.

Buffalo Courier August 12, 1873 There are few spectacles more attractive than a grand balloon ascension, and every means will be taken to advertise this one sufficiently to bring many thousand people into the city. The surrounding country will be thoroughly billed, arrangements will be made with railroads for special trains: indeed we anticipate that "Ascension Day" will be a general holiday. It is the intention of Prof. King to make as long and notable trip as possible.  One that will always be notorious in the annals of ballooning. He has a habit of carrying out his intensions. 
Buffalo Express August 21, 1873   The  work of constructing the "Buffalo"--which is to be the name of the mammoth balloon in which Prof. S. A. King intends going up early next month--is rapidly progressing.  The cutting and stitching of the cloth was commenced some three weeks ago in a large room in the Aetna Buildings.  The stitching on the immense airship is now nearly finished, and before the close of the present week the "stitchers" will be discharged. 

The decorations
of the bag of the balloon deserve special mention.  They have been elaborated by the artists in the employ of Fred Stanfield, the scenic painter of the Academy of Music, and have cost a nice little sum. From the neck or bottom of the balloon crimson stripes, alternating with the white cloth, will run up a distance of about thirty feet. Above this, surrounding the balloon, is a drapery of azure blue, with tassels pendent; above that a band in crimson, a foot wide, and above that, scroll work in purple.  Above the scroll work, in the middle of the globe, is the name "Buffalo", in letters seven feet high, and upon the other side, the picture of a wild Buffalo will be delineated.

August 30, 1873  Buffalo Daily Courier   Prof. King has devoted his entire time to the construction of this balloon, and we are convinced has made the most beautiful airship that has ever sought the upper regions of the world. It will be larger by fifty percent than the immense "Hyperion" in which Mr. King has made two ascensions from this city, and larger than any balloon that has ever left the ground. Prof. King stakes his reputation as an aeronaut upon the perfection of this balloon, and has spared no time or expense in it's construction. The stitching was all finished last night and today the balloon will be taken to the country to receive it's coat of oil.

Commercial Advertiser Sept. 8 1873  
   The mammoth balloon "Buffalo", built by Prof. S. A. King, for the ascension from this city on Tuesday the 16th., will receive the third coating of varnish, and the fourth and finishing coat will be put on, probably next Wednesday, should the weather be favorable for drying. Everything will be in readiness by Monday next, and the balloon will probably be removed to the place of filling on the night of that day, to be in readiness for commencement of operations on Tuesday.  Arrangements have been made with the Buffalo Gaslight Company for tapping the main pipe in Church Street probably in the park or the Terrace, and furnish ninety-one thousand feet of gas, which will be necessary for the full inflation of the balloon.

Buffalo Express  Sept. 15 1873  
Prof. King's mammoth balloon "Buffalo" is almost completed. The fourth and last coat of varnish will be put on today, and, weather permitting, the ascent will positively take place tomorrow. The airship will be removed from it's present quarters at Cold Spring to the Terrace Park from which the ascent will be made at an early hour Tuesday morning, and the work of inflation will commence immediately. It is expected that everything will be in readiness and the start made between the the hours of twelve and one. Buffalo takes an active interest in the subject of balloons like the rest of the world and is to witness tomorrow the fulfillment of an important enterprise in this line.
  Through the liberality of our citizens Mr. King has been able to construct the finest airship ever made on this continent. He has carefully superintended all the details of the work and our citizens are to look upon a new product of their industry of which they, as well as the distinguished aeronaut, have every reason to feel proud. In compliment to the city which has manifested so warm an interest in his welfare, he has christened his skyward bound craft, The "Buffalo". With three or four companions he will sail early tomorrow afternoon for his initial cruise in his new and beautiful aerostat, and all will unite in wishing the party a pleasant and prosperous voyage.

Commercial Advertiser September 16, 1873  
"The Buffalo" was completed in readiness for the voyage yesterday afternoon at Cold Springs, Prof. King himself giving the finishing touches  to the valve, by which the balloon can be exploded if necessary. The preparations were made at the corner of Church Street and the Terrace, the gas pipe was tapped and everything made ready for the inflation.  The Balloon was not removed from Cold Springs, however, until this morning on account of the dubious nature of the weather. This morning early the balloon was brought from Cold Springs, and preparations were made for commencing the inflation. The wind still blew high, but Prof. King decided to proceed with the work and make the ascension today.

Commercial Advertiser Sept. 18, 1873   The "Buffalo" which is, without a doubt, the most beautiful as well as the best constructed balloon that ever left American soil to soar beyond the clouds.  ...She is of ninety-one thousand cubic feet capacity, with an extreme height, when inflated, of eighty-four feet from the bottom of the basket to the valve on top, and is the largest balloon ever ascended in this country.  
   We presume most of our readers feel some degree of curiosity as to the "out-fit" of the balloon... as to the scientific instruments there was a fine aneroid barometer for measuring altitude; a hygrometer(a wet and dry bulb thermometer for measuring humidity and temperature); a pocket compass and a repeating watch,-the latter taken in order, if necessary, time might be ascertained after dark.  The barometer and hydrometer, were in charge of Mr. Holden, by whom observations were taken and recorded every two minutes. For ballast there were eighteen bags of sand weighing from fifty to seventy-five pounds each.  A basket containing four carrier pigeons, furnished by Mr. John Fantom, of this city, also were taken.  The "stores" consisted of an elegant and sumptuous lunch furnished by Mr. P. L. Hodges, of the Bloomer House, and other "refreshments" provided by Messrs. L. Gillig and Sons, P. J. Hanour, D. J. Sprague, V. L. Tiphaine and F. B. Harvey.

"Buffalo"Balloon on the Terrace, Buffalo NY
Buffalo Express Sept. 17 1873   
Ascension of the "Buffalo" Yesterday--A large Crowd and a Magnificent Sight
...The history of ballooning is an interesting one. To soar aloft into an unknown region possesses a fascination for those who behold as for those who ascend. Certainly the large number of people who congregated yesterday on the Terrace to witness the ascension of Prof. King in his new mammoth balloon "Buffalo", evinced the deep curiosity and interest generally felt.  The new city buildings and all the other edifices in the neighborhood of the Park were covered with people, anxious to get the best possible view of the novel and unusual sight.
Within the Terrace Park the monster received it's inspiration of the subtle fluid which should bear it upward among the clouds, together with it's precious freight of five human lives. The inflation was finished about 1 o'clock, and the immense globe swayed to and fro, impatient of restraint and longing to be free of it's earthly ties. Inflated, the gigantic airship stood eighty feet high, and, beautifully painted by Mr. Stanfield, the scenic artist of the theatre, projected a very handsome appearance.
"Behind us, the tree-tops glowed with a variety
of lights and shades reflected from the clouds"
It's name "BUFFALO" was painted in large letters, and the whole effect of the painting was very fine an reflected credit upon the artist. Prof. King is a very genial gentleman, who has made the science of ballooning a study, and having made before this, one hundred and sixty-eight ascensions, he possessed sufficient experience in trusting they believe in his aerial vessel.

   Everything being in readiness, the passengers were ordered into the basket. A hundred willing hands at the request of Prof. King, took hold, and the basket and balloon were moved toward the westerly line of the enclosure, to the end that the telegraph wires, and the spire of the neighboring Cathedral, might be avoided... Watching for a lull in the wind he gave the word to "LET GO!" and up went the "Buffalo". It was a triumph of skill, and was one of the nicest feats ever performed by an Aeronaut.  The party consisted of Prof. Samuel A. King, Mr. Luther L. Holden of the Boston Journal, who has made 20 previous ascensions with Prof. King, Mr. George H. Nicholas of the New York Herald, Mr. Walter T. Chester of the Buffalo Courier, and the reporter of the Commercial Advertiser.

Prof. King's Mammoth Balloon "Buffalo"
Altitude 2,000 Ft. From Buffalo to New
Jersey, Five states traversed in 13 hours
Clearing everything handsomely, we were quickly looking downward, while the cheers of the immense multitude rent the very air around us.  Ten thousand steam-whistles, as it seemed, lent the aid of their brazen lungs (if they've got any, which is somewhat problematical) to swell the loud acclaim; and even the tower bell added the weight of it's influence towards increasing the general uproar. Those in the balloon waved hats and handkerchiefs, and cheered with might and main, in response. 

Editors Note:   The story goes on for a few more days as they track across New York State, on their way to NYC, sending homing pigeons to report their progress back to Buffalo. They described beautifully many incredible scenes on their voyage.  The blog would go on for days and days if I tried to put it down on "paper". This was a well documented voyage by the reporters and scientific in nature, taking meteorological readings every few minutes. The purpose of writing the story was to document the fact that it was built here in "Buffalo", a fact that was lost in history. Most likely the first aircraft ever built in this city! Today's significance is that it was built in the Canal-Side development on the waterfront. That area of the city has so much history to discover, they have barely scratched the surface at this point.  Our history is our future as it is in many other cities, but in most other cities they actually put it the forefront of their planning because they are proud of their past, here we only accept it, or not, after a long wasteful fight. Buffalo has a beautiful, colorful and proud history that many other cities only wish they had. Other cities do more with less,   We do less with more


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Buffalo Bits and Pieces 1888

   The highest temperature since the Government signal office has had an office here was reached August 4, 1877, and was 94.2 degrees.  On only three other dates do records of the office show a temperature higher than 90--namely June 30th 1878, August 28 1881, and July 3, 1887. The lowest temperature recorded is 13.5 degrees below zero, January 25, 1884. The annual mean temperature since the establishment of the signal office 17 years ago, has been 46.3 degrees.  The average yearly precipitation was 37.92 inches.
  The government weather observer says "though the temperature in Buffalo does not reach as high as other lake cities, yet the amount of moisture is considerably greater, as the lake is to the southwest.  The Spring in Buffalo is generally later than at other stations (and no ice boom, Ed.), but the cold waves of early winter are felt much more severely at other lake stations than here." This official and indisputable record shows an unusually equitable and temperate climate. In Summer, especially, the climate of Buffalo is all that a climate should be or could be.

Natural Increase  Buffalo's vital statistics for the year 1887: deaths, 4,580; births, 6,900; marriages, 1,800

Directory Census  The Buffalo City Directory for 1888 contains 79,557 names, an increase of 1,557 over the preceding year.  The annual average ratio of increase in population for five years past, if maintained till 1900, will give Buffalo a half a million inhabitants.

Streets in Buffalo  Total length, opened and surveyed, 353.27 miles.  Total length paved, 164.22 miles of which over 40 miles are asphalted.  Buffalo has 957 streets, of which only 92 are mentioned in the fashionable "Address Book".

For Wheelmen  Buffalo is a paradise of bicyclers. In no other place can such a combination of good country roads , parkways and asphalt pavements be found.

The Police Force of Buffalo is 345 strong.

No Excuse For Ignorance  Buffalo has 61 public school buildings and 635 teachers, and the system costs about half a million a year.  There are about 40 private colleges, academies, and schools. The first school-house in Buffalo was built at the corner of Pearl and Swan Streets.

The First Town lot was sold in Buffalo in 1804, there was half an acre of it, and it brought $135.

Buffalo Homeopathic Hospital
A Prosperous Neighbor  The port of Tonawanda received in 1887, 501,000,000 feet of lumber by water 31,000,000 feet by rail; aggregate, 532,000,000 feet.  Many of the largest Tonawanda lumber operators are residents of Buffalo.

Homeopathic Hospital   This is situated at No. 74 Collage Street. It's object is the maintenance of Homeopathic medical, surgical and lying-in hospital. The total number of patients received last year was 300.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Edward J. Malloy - Thank You

Happy Birthday Dad, We Miss You Very Much

Bob  Jerry  Irene  Dad  Ma  Janet  Judy
S/Sgt. Edward J Malloy
Army Air Force

A tribute to my Dad on his Birthday today.
Born October 13th 1919 and passed away 
last November. Although your not here in 
person we know you are here in spirit and 
we will celebrate your life with us, today. 

Thank You for your service to your Country 
and to our family, and the many sacrifices
 you made for both, they are greatly appreciated 
and will never be forgotten. 

We are all proud to say, you are our Father.

  At times throughout his life, he was a farmer; bred and raised draught horses with his father, two brothers and sister in Michigan; hawked the Buffalo Times on Broadway and Fillmore; a Merchant Marine on the package freighters on the Great Lakes; worked at Curtiss-Wright during then after the war and Bell Aircraft also. During the war he trained as a flight engineer/mechanic/pilot and tail-gunner on the B-25 Mitchell Bombers in the Mediterranean Theatre, 12th Air Force 57th Bomb Wing. He flew an incredible 63 combat missions as attested by the certificate below.  Received AIR MEDAL for his actions on a mission over Italy on July 12 1944.
Harbor Inn - Ohio & Chicago Streets Buffalo

   After the war, became partner with his brother-in-law in the bakery business in Niagara Falls NY with the Polonia Bakery.  Around 1950 he and a friend started a steeple-jack business, painting and repairing smokestacks, radio towers, flagpoles and all manner of high and difficult places around Buffalo. Started work at Curtiss-Wright again while at the same time helping out at his sisters bar and restaurant, The Harbor Inn. Built his own house from the ground, up, in Clarence. 
   Took over The Harbor Inn in the 1970's. Expanded the business with a new dining room attracting a downtown crowd along with the sailors and truck drivers it was so famous for. It became a center for tourism and tours and a museum of Buffalo history. A meeting place for preservation groups, politicians and media types alike. Due to a downturn in the industrial climate around the waterfront, my parents retired it in 1995.  
Thank You Again Dad


Trained on B-26 (3rd from right)

Edward Malloy on Camel
As a Merchant Marine (center)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Playboy of Buffalo!

Story Written by David Kaplan for The Industrial Heritage Newsletter 1993
David Kaplan's Playboy # 83 of Ninety-Seven
   The Playboy story began in Buffalo after WWII when Lou Horwitz, who had been in the automobile business since 1935, opened a used car lot on the corner of Deleware and Hertel. Horowitz sent cars to Norm Richardson Collision Shop at 988 Ellicott St. for repair. While at Richardson's shop Horowitz learned that Richardson and Charlie Thomas were working on a three wheel car.  Thomas had built a car in the 1930's with the help of Richardson. Lou Horwitz had long believed there was a need for a second or companion car in the American automobile field. Therefore, he joined forces with Thomas and Richardson to form the Playboy Motorcar Corporation with Horwitz as president, Thomas as vice president and Richardson as treasurer. 
  Lou Horwitz put up $50,000 to build the prototype Playboy. Thomas designed the car and the three men built it in secret over seven months at Richardson shop. On February 18, 1947, the playboy was displayed at the Buffalo Hotel Statler. The Prototype Playboy was a soft-top convertible with a special twelve-head Continental twenty-horsepower engine mounted in the rear.  The car featured four wheel independent suspension and an automatic transmission.
Demand Ran High
David Kaplan's # 83
   During the Playboy's week long display at the Statler, the car generated a great deal of publicity.  The three principals of the Playboy Motor Car Corporation decided to build the cars while demand was high.  They also abandoned the prototype rear engine model because of anticipated engineering, procurement and servicing difficulties. 
   In May 1947, the company started production of the pilot model of the Playboy with an all steel convertible top and a Continental engine mounted in front. Using Richardson idea of making the car as easy to produce as possible, the company purchased chassis parts from various manufacturers, while they built the body and trim at the Ellicott Street shop. They used a Borg Warner  three-speed transmission with overdrive, and a shortened rear axle from a Studebaker.  They purchased Continental and Hercules engines because both engines fit the cars with little modification. The original Continental engines were only forty horsepower.  Further testing and development indicated that this engine was inadequate with the overdrive transmission, so Continental bored out the cylinders to produce a forty-eight horsepower engine.
   The premier showing of the pilot Playboy was held on August 20, 1947 at the Congress Hotel in Chicago.  Prospective dealers and distributers were recruited after inspecting the car with a four man crew that included Lou Horwitz. Playboy anticipated distributing it's cars primarily through dealer franchises and distributers. Franchises--promising little more than the right to handle the cars--were sold to prospective dealers at the cost of $1,000 per every twenty thousand people in the sales area.  The company marketed between eight and nine hundred franchises. 
Ambitious Goals In November 1947, the company's bid $2,259,000 for the former Chevrolet Plant #1 on Kenmore Ave. was accepted by the War Assets Administration of the federal government.  On January 10th, 1948, the Playboy Motor Car Corporation held the grand opening of the new plant.  Lou Horwitz stated, "with the opening of the large up to date plant in Tonawanda, pilot production will be moved to the new site...Currently production is at two cars per week, and we have completed fourteen cars to date...The company will be tooling up the Tonawanda plant for the mass production of the cars at a rate of one hundred thousand a year."
   In the February 1948 issue of Mechanics Illustrated, Tom McCahill reported favorably on the Playboy.  On April 17, 1948, The Buffalo Evening News reported that the Playboy set a record for driving from New York to Los Angeles: sixty two hours and twenty minutes. Driver Robert McKenzie reported that he faced the worst weather and road conditions in twenty-five years of auto testing and speed driving, nonetheless he set the record with the Playboy by averaging fifty miles per hour. In a survey of five thousand engineers taken by Automotive Engineer, the Playboy was voted best car in the bantam size.
   In order to produce one hundred thousand cars in 1948, the company needed to raise $20 million.  Lou Horwitz decided to sell 20 million shares of stock to raise $17 million.  The sale of dealer franchises was expected to raise the remainder $3 million. On May 20, 1948, Playboy issued a stock prospectus of 20 million shares of stock at $1 per share. Walter Tellier of Walter Tellier Co. was chosen as underwriter for the sale.  Under the underwriting agreement, the company would receive no funds until they received firm commitments for $8,500,000.  
   Tellier staged showings in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Buffalo and Detroit. They surrounded the cars with salesmen, prospectuses and order blanks. They drove across the country giving prospective buyers a chance to test-drive the car.  By June Tellier had passed the $8.5 million mark and was confident in selling out the entire offering.  On August 23, 1948, Tellier had announced they had orders for ten million shares and started to solicit payment. 
The Tucker Investigation
     But during the Playboy stock offering, an apparently unrelated event, changed the course of the Playboy Motor Corporation. The Securities and Exchange Commission investigated another independent automobile manufacturer, The Tucker Corporation. The SEC alleged that Tucker was attempting to sell stock with no intention of manufacturing automobiles. Tucker was eventually acquitted, but in the meantime the SEC investigation caused the public to be suspicious of Playboy's stock offering. Only $2.5 million was raised.  Lou Horwitz announced that Playboy would start production on a more modest scale instead of waiting to acquire the financing necessary to meet earlier production goals. The company withdrew it's stock offering and revised it's plans to include interim tool and dies and temporarily reduced production program.
   By october 1948, Playboy had completed it's pilot production program. The last pilot model Playboy had a serial number of 000094 with a Continental engine. They also built a station wagon with a Hercules engine and a ninety-six inch wheel base. The body of the station wagon combined wood and steel; the frame was welded to the chassis.
   In March 1949 Playboy had another stock offering through Aetna Securities for $3.5 million. By then, engineering to set up production at the plant was substantially completed. The production dies had been manufactured in Detroit, and Playboy had 723 dealers and twenty-seven distributers who had raised over $2 million for the company. Nonetheless, the Tucker Company's stock fiasco continued to haunt Playboy. The Publics response to Playboys new stock offering was nothing.
Horwitz' Appeal
    On april 14, 1949 the Playboy Car Corporation filed a petition for reorganization under the federal bankruptcy act. They announce withdrawal of the current stock offering.  In June, Horwitz wrote an appeal for contributions to continue production of the Playboy. Remembering the SEC charges against Tucker, Horwitz noted that the Playboy was "Completely engineered and ready for production. Mass production dies are completed." However, believing that reorganizing was futile because the Playboy was not  in production, Horwitz wrote, "My only hope of carrying on is...by a general appeal for the funds for those who have confidence in the future of America and free enterprise. At no time has any undertaking involved more sincerity and sheer determination.  With this thought in mind, I feel this appeal cannot an will not be in vain. Won't you help me make this product possible?"
    Lou Horwitz plea was denied.  At 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, February 15, 1950 his dream was auctioned off.  the Playboy Motor Car Corporation had built ninety-seven cars, including two station wagons, and one production car. At the auction, the company's assets were sold to Lytemobile Corporation who tried unsuccessfully to produce the car.

   In 1976, the Playboy started it's long journey back to Buffalo. Milton and Tootie Kaplan, Lou Horwitz's daughter, brought the eighty-third Playboy back home. In 1989, David Kaplan brought the soft-top prototype and a production car that was not fully completed back to Buffalo. Subsequent trips brought Playboy #'s 7, 41, 68, 92 and 94 home.  Currently(1993), the prototype is undergoing a restoration which should be completed shortly.
   David Kaplan, Lou Horwitz's grandson, adds:  "The prototype's restoration is my tribute to my grandfather.  For as long as I live, his dream of the Playboy will never die".
Editors Note:  The Playboy Motor Car Company, was the source for the name of "Playboy Magazine". The name was suggested to Hugh Hefner by his close friend, co-founder and eventual executive vice-president Eldon Sellers, whose mother had worked as a secretary for the automobile company's Chicago sales office before it went bankrupt.  If you would like to see many more of the Playboy cars, many in need of restoration, and many restored, go to: playboymotorcars.com ~   He probably has pictures of all known Playboys around the country.  If you know of any, or maybe you would like to restore a piece of Buffalo History, visit that site.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Grain Elevators - As They Were (Part Three)

The Great Northern Elevator on the Busy City Ship Canal Around 1900
Buffalo Morning Express May 14, 1899 (continued)
   These new elevators are of steel, and their bins are great steel cylinders. The Great Northern and the Electric Elevators, in Buffalo are of this new type. In the Great Northern the bins stand upon pillars, in the Electric they stand upon the floor.  These bins vary in size, but run up to 80,000 bushels in the Great Northern and 100,000 in the Electric. The ordinary capacity of wooden bins is about 5,000. 

Great Northern Under Construction 1897
   To comprehend the increase in the size of elevators, compare Joseph Darts with it's 55,000 bushels, and the Great Northern with it's 3,000,000 bushels. The Great Northern is 120 feet wide and about 400 feet long, and so covers more than an acre.  The sides are 102 feet high.  From the center of the building rises a cupola 40 feet wide.  The distance from the ground to the bottom of this cupola is 116 feet and to the top of the cupola 164 feet. In this Great Northern Elevator Elevator could be stored the corn or oats from more than 100,000 acres of land, or the wheat from more than 200,000 acres.  In the early days of steam it was believed that 800 bushels of grain was all that could be lifted and correctly measured in one day.  At this rate it would take ten years to fill the Great Northern. Fortunately for the Great Northern the rate is much faster now. Using it's three marine legs the Great Northern can handle about 30,000 bushels an hour under actual working conditions. In the Great Northern Elevator, as in other modern elevators, only one leg is stationary. The other two can be moved to suit the hatchways, so shall all three can be set at work together on the same vessel.  
The Electric Elevator on Childs Street - 1897
  (Editor) 'What the reporter fails to make note of, is the elevator's use of electricity instead of the usual steam power, which is really what took it to a new level as far as modern grain elevators were concerned. The Great Northern and the Electric were the first two electrically powered grain elevators in the world.'
   During the last two weeks the public has heard a great deal about the scoopers. These scoopers refused to go to work for the general contractor for grain handling, declaring in substance that they did not want to work for a middleman for various reasons, but wished to be employed directly by the Lake Carriers Association and the Western Elevating Company. Their refusal to work tied up work on the grain vessels, the river filled with boats waiting to be unloaded, and the discharge of cargoes was very slow. There are those who do not know what the work of the scoopers is and a description will be of interest.
Scoopers Maneuvering The Shovel into Position
  The perfecting of elevator machinery has not been able to do away with the labor of grain shoveling. The elevator leg moves freely up and down and descends into the hold as fast as the level of grain sinks. It cannot be moved sidewise, however, it must remain in the same position in the hatchway, and hence there is a need for shoveling the grain from underneath the decks, to where the leg can reach it. Mechanical ingenuity have perfected steam shovels worked by ropes in the elevator, which pass down the center of the hold, carrying the grain along to the elevator leg. But the grain on the sides cannot be reached by the shovels, so men have to be stationed in the hold to shovel or scoop the grain in front of the steam shovels, and to trim the boat by evening up it's diminishing cargo.
Scoopers Moving the Grain To The Marine Leg
With Power Shovels Rigged into The Marine Tower
    These men who thus scoop the grain out to where the machine shovels can get it, are the "Scoopers". The Rev. Mr. Albertson, a Buffalo pastor, said about them the other day: "These men are enclosed in almost air-tight compartments and they labor hard in a cloud of dust amid intense heat and I am not surprised at the claim they make that no man can stand it many years. The fact is that on land there is no other occupation that more closely resembles the conditions surrounding the stokers on a man-o-war."
Power Shovels At Work
  Buffalo has become an elevator city because it is at the end of lake navigation. The grain coming down by boat from the western shipping points, had to be unloaded here and put on to railroad cars and canalboats. Elevators were the natural product of these conditions. They accomplish mechanically and cheaply the work of transfer.  Most of the big elevators have water on one front and railroad tracks on another, and so form a direct connecting link between water transportation and land transportation. Not all are so provided however; there is the big Watson Elevator, for instance, with it's capacity of 600,000 bushels, without rail connection. Years ago the canal did most of the carrying; but as the railroad rates fell, the railroads got an increasing share of the business. And last year out of 222,000,000 bushels of grain exported, the railroads carried about 180,000,000.
Watson Elevator, On It's Own Island, Could
Transfer Only to Canal Boats
   The report of the Buffalo Merchants Exchange for 1898 shows a total of 40 elevators, six transfer towers, and 8 floating elevators (which are really floating towers, since they have no storage capacity). The capacity of the 40 elevators was put at 20,960,000 bushels with one of the transfer towers credited with a capacity of 40,000 bushels. There are facilities for receiving from lake vessels and railroads and transporting to canalboats and cars daily, 5,500,000 bushels from the 54 elevators, transfers and floaters.
   Buffalo stands first in the world in the application and use of marine elevating machinery. No port can rival it in the quantity of grain elevated from vessels, or in the capacity to handle this vessel grain.  Against our dozens of marine elevators, no city up the lakes has more than two or three. Here is Buffalo's pre-eminence; it is the greatest port in the world for the transfer of grain from boat to shore.

Floating Elevator Transferring Grain From
Small Vessel to Larger One
Editors Note: Buffalo, in short, was the largest grain transfer port in the world and later the largest flour milling center in the world for many decades. In the last part of the 19th century Buffalo was the 4th largest port in the world in terms of tonnage! Not bad for a City whose lake is frozen over 2-3 months out of the year.  The greatest grain flow in the world was down the Great Lakes from Minnesota to Buffalo and then transferring to seaboard for export.  Buffalo's Grain Elevators have literally fed the world! We were very proud of them back then, and we should be equally proud of the roll they played now, from a historical sense, and should take full advantage of that incredible part of our history in planning waterfront attractions today. A number of the elevators along our waterfront are still operating, and milling operations are still going strong at General Mills and the ADM (Pillsbury) plant on Ganson Street. In fact the old Conagra (Lake & Rail) Elevator on Childs Street has reopened for grain storage in the last couple of years.
     Like it or not, this is Buffalo's Heritage, It's History, It's Legacy to the world! We can not let waterfront planning go on without commemorating and showing off this legacy. Some time in the last few months(spring 2012) a marker on the new Commercial Slip Bridge celebrating Joseph Dart and the first Grain Elevator in the world, was removed and replaced with something else! Excuse Me! Joseph Dart(grain elevator) and Samuel Wilkeson, who built our first harbor, should not only have markers celebrating their achievements, there should be statues in their honor! The Dart Elevator should be rebuilt somewhere in Canalside and showcased with a 19th century sail vessel unloading cargo docked next to it, where people could go in and relive that early technology and the life of  the 1840's dockworker. That is the kind of attractions worthy of re-developement. So much money being thrown around in Canalside and so much ignorance of the true significance of that area.

Thank You
Jerry M. Malloy

Dart Street, So Who Was Joseph Dart?