Category Archives: people

Local Icons

Every place brags about the famous persons who lived at or were born in the locale.   And who wouldn’t want to be immortalized on art that covers up a street corner utility box?  Located right next to the juror’s parking lot in downtown, we have this exemplar of civic pride which celebrates these local icons.

This writer (1830-1885) was born and lived in the east for most of her life.  Coincidentally enough, she was one of the many tourists who came out to see the Falls of the previous post.  And she met and married her second husband here.   She did have a house in town and part of it is preserved in the local history museum (of course it was torn down).   She wrote a scholarly book about the failure of the US Government to live up to the various treaties signed with native tribes.   But she was more famous for a romance novel about the same subject.   She was buried at the top of the Falls, but was later moved to a cemetery.

This well-known inventor (1856-1943) only lived here for a brief time in 1899 (the building is no longer standing).  He came to do electrical experiments at high altitude (no word as to whether he visited the falls).  After blowing up the electrical grid of the city, he returned to the east.

This silent film actor (1883-1930) shown here as the character he portrayed in “London After Midnight” was actually born here.   His grandfather started the school for the deaf,  and the family lived nearby (and the house still exists).   Famous as “the man of a thousand faces”  he only made one talking picture.  The civic auditorium bears his name.

This woman (1918-2005), shown here in a demure pose ran a nightclub/bar about 2 blocks north of this spot starting in the 1950’s.  She featured well known jazz musicians and “everybody” was welcome according to her sign.  The club eventually became rather run down, so it was demolished and replaced with a parking lot in 1975.  The city does have a festival in her honor every year (and you know how much I like festivals, so of course I go).  And  I think the others should have festivals as well.  😉


Lemmings are described as being: “noted for recurring mass migrations often terminated by drowning in the ocean.”  While I have never done exactly that,  I do feel a strange pull every year, and I am faced with the choice: am I going to Denver or not?

Yes, as it turns out, I am going.  And the event that draws me is March Pow-Wow.   Every year I have the same arguments with myself; it’s in Denver, parking is bad, it’s crowded, I don’t need to buy anything, etc.   But I often go anyway, the weather was fine on Sat. so off I went.

They were still doing the Grand Entry (every single dancer is out dancing) when I got there, so a lot of dancers were crowded around the floor level waiting to go into the arena.  This fancy dancer has a number on his arm, they do give out prizes for dancing and for being there to dance.  Note the skateboard decks that are being sold in the booth behind him, a very niche sort of item.

There were lots of young women representing their tribes at the event, and, one must have a special and new dance outfit to wear.

And the dancers range in age.

This lot is almost ready to make an entrance, the MC will announce their tribal affiliation and style of dress.

Once the dancers enter the arena, they spiral around until the entire floor is covered with dancers, and of course the entire time a drum group is pounding out a song.

And at the head are the veterans, the MC listed the campaigns of each of the distinguished flag bearers.   What is newer, is the number of women veterans and they have their own honor group.

Pow-wows are always the same and always different.  This year there were more neon colored outfits than I remember, and next year the style will probably be slightly changed.  And I will still be having an argument with myself over whether I should go.


Who are these people?

I last posted a corner of a room, and just barely visible at the bottom of one are a collection of photos.   Here’s the scoop on a few of the vintage photos.


This is my paternal grandmother in about 1925 when she was a 15 year old factory girl.   She had gotten dressed up to go to a portrait studio to have this picture made.  She was a first-generation American and was a native Russian speaker (although I never ever heard her do this).  Her father was a coal miner and they lived in a small town across the river from St. Louis.  She had moved to the city to work and lived with her older sister.

At the time this photo was taken she was making shoes, she later switched to making electrical fuses.   She worked in a factory until she had a heart attack, then she sat on the sofa reading movie magazines.  We always lived near her and I saw her frequently.  I love this photo because she is so unfamiliar from the woman I knew.


This is my maternal great-grandmother who was born in 1863.   I found this picture in a book on the Tuscarora tribe and it looks to be from about 1930.   She had two families, the author of the book was  a descendant from the first family.   I don’t know what happened to that first husband, or the second, but my grandfather was from her third husband, the second family.   She lived with my grandfather and grandmother on the Seneca reservation until after my Mom was born.   Then she married again and moved back to the Tuscarora rez.


This is a picture of her grandfather, my great-great-great grandfather and I got this from the collection of a library in Niagara Falls.   He was born in 1815 and died in 1899.   I did not have any family stories of him, but I found him when I was doing some genealogical research.  He was apparently the first Native American deacon on the Tuscarora reservation and was active in the Temperance movement.    In contrast to life on the Tuscarora reservation,  in the 1892 special census of the Seneca reservation, it is described as being full of pagans.  Of course by the time my mom was born on the Seneca rez there weren’t too many (or any) at least openly pagans left.

I was able to share these pictures of her relatives with my mom when she was alive.   Because she was the youngest in a second family,  everyone was gone by the time she was growing up.   When she was dating my dad he took her around to meet all of his relatives,  and Mom thought it would be great to be in large family.   After she married she found out about all the family feuds my grandmother had with everyone else, so we seldom got to see the nearby relatives.