Buffalo, NY—Cheektowaga resident, Todd Helmbrecht was both miffed and amazed at a conversation he overheard at Dog Ears Bookstore & Cafe, where he is a new volunteer.
After going over a few bookstore items at the local non-profit he listened to three South Buffalo natives: P.A. Kane, Jesse Holmes and Jack Conrad talk about all the people they knew in common in South Buffalo.
Helmbrecht said, “In Cheektavegas, where I come from, we do this crazy thing—we talk to each other, not about the people we know. Ya know, we ask about your job, kids, maybe some new project you have going on at the house. These three South Buffalo numbnuts spent two hours talking about this “Jackson” or that “Coughlin.” I don’t get it—South Buffalo people talking about other South Buffalo people. Listening to them made me feel, I don’t know—dumber. Like I lost IQ points or something.”
After the Saint Patrick’s day recollections Helmbrecht noted the three most common elements in all the stories were: Caz Park . . . drinking . . . and fighting— with some poor lass getting knocked up on a pool table or in the back of a Corolla coming in a not so distant fourth. The stories went something like this: Someone named Mclaughlin or Quinn or Whalen would be at the Caz Golf Course bridge drinking with friends. One of those guys would accuse someone named McNamara or McCarthy or O’Sullivan of dumping their beer. A fight would follow. A girlfriend named Eileen or Margret or Katie would become upset and cry.
At that point, Kane, Holmes and Conrad would pause and ask, “Whatever happened to her, she was a good kid?” Invariably, the answer was that she got knocked up by some guy named Ryan or O’Grady or McLanahan, who was either a cop or a fireman.
That was another thing that amazed Helmbrecht. Everybody from South Buffalo was either a cop or a fireman.
Shaking his head at the lack of traffic in the book store Helmbrecht said, “I get it why no one is buying any books. To get anyone in this neighborhood to buy a book we’d also have to be sell beer.”
Trying to drown out the inane conversation of Kane, Holmes and Conrad, Helmbrecht spent the remainder of his shift poking through local author Patricia Reilly Panara’s arresting book: Sisterly Advice.