FROM THE HOLIDAY SHOWCASE RESTAURANT
KENSINGTON HIGH SCHOOL
IN BUFFALO, NEW YORK:
Change is Our Most Important Product
“I remember when the waitresses roller skated outside.”
The dove-gray haired women had just entered the Holiday Showcase on Union Road in Cheektowaga, New York. After indulging in a delicious breakfast there Monte was waiting to pay the bill while Kathleen, our surrogate daughter, and I stood aside.
The women overheard Monte telling Kathleen that we used to enjoy the time we spent at the round restaurant while we were dating in 1966. That’s when one of them made the comment about the roller skating.
“I don’t remember that,” Monte said, “but then we frequented it at night.”
I worked nights until 10:30 to midnight, so our dates began late,” I explained.
“I remember coming here the night I was engaged,” the woman said. “That was over forty years ago.”
“What year?” Monte asked.
“1966. That’s the year we were married, too.”
“Oh,” Monte said. “What month was that?”
“That’s amazing,” Monte said. “We married in September 1966.”
I stepped to the wall to look at the framed old photographs framed hung there.
“Look at this photo,” I said, pointing to one showing the skating waitresses. “I never knew that existed.”
“They must not have worked at night,” Monte and the woman agreed.
Another photograph showed the groundbreaking of the restaurant.
“They built this in 1963,” he said, surprised. “It was pretty new when we were frequenting it.”
The clerk appeared behind the restaurant and Monte went over to the counter to pay the bill.
“We used to come here a long time ago,” he said to the young dark-haired girl. She seemed unimpressed.
In this day of constant change all of the Buffalo communities in which I lived have undergone drastic transitions. Many—no, most—of the few businesses Monte and I frequented during our courtship and early marriage are gone, especially the restaurants.
Some of my workplaces are also gone. Or, I must say, have transitioned. Millard Fillmore Hospital, where I worked in the medical library one summer, has transitioned into Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Nursing Home, an above average facility.* Deaconess Hospital, 1001 Humboldt Parkway, has morphed into Kaleida Health Deaconess Snf.
I’d be remiss if I neglected to mention Kensington High School, my green and gold alma mater. Class of 1961.
While in Buffalo I spoke with Mr. Scherer, Kathleen’s father-in-law. He remembered I graduated from Kensington, and, although he lived not far from my residence he attended Hutchinson Technical High School. I had heard the school closed. He was fuzzy on what was going on. So I went online and discovered that The building was constructed in 1937 and operated for 67 years. The school was closed in 2003 due to poor academic performance and increasing student violence. In the years that followed, the school was one of the locations for Buffalo’s Opportunity Program, an alternative school service for suspended students… (it) was also home to the Buffalo Academy of Math & Science, a small magnet high school, from 1989-1993 when it was moved to Riverside High School, as well as the temporary home of Hutchinson Central Technical High School while it was renovated from 2005-2007… **
An August 23, 2012, Buffalo News reported the following Kensington High School information:
In less than two weeks, City of Buffalo officials will take the wraps off the former Kensington High School. It has undergone a $20 million restoration. The art deco building will be sparkling when 850 students move in to Public School 156, The Frederick Law Olmsted School at Kensington.
The Olmsted program began more than 30 years ago and parents had been requesting a high school for many years. They graduated their first class in June. Come September, all of the students in grades 5 through 12 will be under one roof…A grand opening for the new facility is planned for this fall.***
As we drove past the State University of New York, where Monte taught physics and where I worked for a while before pursuing my degree. It has grown to massive proportions necessitating a huge second campus. So it too has transitioned.
Time passes. Things change, people change, and progress is, as some of us joked, the most important product—although we all agreed that not all progress is positive.