Category Archives: "A Day of Memories"

Concrete Proof – Repelling Down the Castle’s Turret…

The Tonawanda Castle’s tower is a majestic feat of construction.  Rising to a height of more than 100 feet, it still reigns over Delaware Street with unmistakable distinction 113 years later.

And this turret is the source of many great memories. For those of you who’ve been following the stories that came out of the Novemeber “Day of Memories” event, you are already familiar with a few of them. A quick refresh:

  • Already chronicled in the Buffalo News (http://www.buffalonews.com/cityregion/story/870868.html),  Alice Weber told us how, as a 15 year old girl during WWII, she and a girlfriend climbed to the top of the tower to record the planes that passed overhead.
  • Joyce e-mailed us her memory from New Jersey. Her entire memory is reproduced in a post (http://wp.me/pFGRI-29). But, in short, Joyce’s boyfriend – a Guardsman – helped her fulfill a lifelong dream in the late 1950s by taking her up into the turret so she could “…look out from the “tower” over the little City of Tonawanda, as the snow fell and Delaware Street glistened below.”

But one story that seemed to keep popping up at different events was about Guardsmen that repelled down our turret in the 1970s. Stop and think about it for a second…pretty cool, huh? We really wanted a picture, concrete proof.

And thanks to our friends at the Historical Society of the Tonawandas who, on occasion, drop off copies of newspaper articles relating to the Castle – we have one!

A photo from the Tonawanda News in 1975 of repelling down the turret during an anniversary celebration.

http://wp.me/pFGRI-1w

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The Castle’s Mini-Documentary!

Remember our New Year’s Resolution number 3?

3. You’ll recall the Day of Memories event we held on Nov. 22nd for a documentary on the Castle? Well, now we’re in process of finishing up filming, script writing, editing etc. Basically putting together all the information we’ve accumulated in the past decade or so. Our resolution – Complete the Castle’s first documentary by mid February and screen it (but in the name of all giant projects –  the deadline is flexible (wink, wink)).

Well, I’m proud to unveil the Tonawanda Castle’s MINI-DOCUMENTARY. This 12 minute film focuses on the building’s history and the renovation process. Enjoy!

Click the image to link to the mini-documentary

http://picasaweb.google.com/109178867005369947269/TheTonawandaCastleHQ#5446693534241288242

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The Tower and its Memories

The Tonawanda Castle’s tower is undeniably a majestic feat of construction.  Erected in 1897, the red-mason brick turret rises to a height of 102 feet and still reigns over Delaware Street with unmistakable distinction 112 years later.

But the stories related to this turret are what endears this landmark into the hearts of many Tonawandians.  Already chronicled in the Buffalo News (http://www.buffalonews.com/cityregion/story/870868.html),  Alice Weber told us how, as a 15 year old girl during WWII, she and a girlfriend climbed to the top of the tower to record the planes that passed overhead.  They were volunteers who spent a few hours of their summer afternoons monitoring the sky.  “We were young people,” Weber said. “So it couldn’t have been that serious.” She fondly recalled the lunches and candy the girls would carry up to the top of the tower to hold them over during their shift. “That was the fun of it,” Weber said. “Carrying [our food] all the way up there.”

Joyce’s memory of the tower is no less heartfelt. She e-mailed us her story from New Jersey having moved away from Tonawanda years ago. Her entire memory is reproduced in a post below.  But, in short, Joyce’s boyfriend – a Guardsmen – helped her fulfill a lifelong dream in the late 1950s by taking her up into the tower so she could “look out from the “tower” over the little City of Tonawanda, as the snow fell and Delaware Street glistened below.”

And although I never did receive confirmation as to whether anyone ever practiced repelling down the turret (https://twcastle.wordpress.com/2009/11/05/we-need-you-an…turret-stories/), these two women’s memories far surpassed any of our expectations.

The tower that provided such wonderful memories

**Thank you to everyone who shared their stories with our staff this past Sunday at out “Day of Memories” event.  Keep checking back for more unique stories of this historic building.

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A Historical Picture Explained…

Taken on the front steps of the Armory in the 1940s

Before Sunday’s event all we knew of this picture was that it was taken at the Tonawanda Armory years and years and years ago.  But thanks to Charles Lucsok of the Tonawanda area we now have an explanation.  The picture was taken in the 1940s, probably around 1944. The National Guard had been called in to help clear snow after a mammoth snowstorm had buried the area under a few feet of snow.  This picture was taken right after the Guardsmen had finished clearing snow off the railroad tracks. Lucsok is the third Guardsman standing from the right.

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In 1928, Armory Hosted “Twin City Auto Show”…

“They put planks on the front stairwell and drove those cars right in.”

Jack VanSlyke recalled this memory while standing at the entrance of the armory’s drill room (now the restored Grand Ball Room). “Twin City Auto” was the Buick dealership in the Tonawanda area in the late 1920s. With one dramatic sweeping hand gesture, VanSlyke described how the cars were driven up the steep front stairwell, through the entrance way and past the gigantic wooden doors onto the drill floor.

VanSlyke also had fond memories of his boy scout troop meeting at the armory.  He recalled his troop forming a human pyramid on the drill floor, and, as the youngest member of his troop,  he was the one to climb to the very top with “two flags to wave.”

When asked if the armory looked different in the 1920s compared to today, he replied “Nope, looked pretty much like this.” We’re just missing a set of basketball hoops and the rifle cases that used to line the Grand Ball Room…

**Thank you to everyone who shared their stories with our staff this past Sunday.  Keep checking back for more unique stories of this historic building.

In 1928, cars were driven up this front stairwell...

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So They Did Use the Pool…

When the armory was purchased in 2004, one of the first questions we asked was “what do you think they used the pool for?” We knew it was built in 1913, but that was about it. But thanks to Thomas Mooney, we now know that in 1975 or 1976 the armory pool held water safety classes…

Mooney served at the Connecticut Street Armory from 1957 to 1972, before being transferred to the Niagara Falls Armory. Part of E company, Mooney built bridges over water, wearing a hard hat and life jacket. Considering he wasn’t the strongest swimmer, the classes were important (although he did confide that a considerable amount of the class was spent playing water volleyball).

Mooney has fond memories of his 32 years in the service. “I met a lot of good friends in the service,” Mooney said. “And I maintained a lot of relationships with people I met in the 1950s.”

 

The pool in the basement of the Castle...

**Thank you to everyone who shared their stories with our staff this past Sunday. Keep checking back for more unique stories of this historic building.

 

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“A Day of Memories” – Great Success

A giant THANK YOU is in order to everyone who came out to support the Tonawanda Castle’s “A Day of Memories.” According to our estimates, between 200-250 people stopped in to tour the facility and share their memories of this historic building.  Our staff is in the process of transcribing the recordings of all the stories, so keep checking back for memories of the armory’s pool, tower, drill room and so much more…with heartwarming stories ranging in date from the 1920s to 2003.

And if you didn’t get a chance to swing by the event today but have memories to share, feel free to contact our office at 716-743-8544 or at TonawandaCastleST@gmail.com.

 

"A Day of Memories"

 

 

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