Buffalo, NY—Early Monday morning dog walkers crossing the icy suspension bridge at the third hole of Caz Golf Course came upon a horrifying of scene. At least a thirty-pack of empty beer cans were strewn carelessly all over the snowy ground at the base of the bridge. News of the atrocity quickly spread throughout the community leaving many residents shaking their heads at the continued decay of the neighborhood.
For generations teenagers drinking in the park has been a feature of life in South Buffalo. But with the advent of cell phones, gaming systems, social media and all the rest, teens have become withdrawn and more likely to stayed holed up in their rooms. Parents have dealt with this dilemma by forcing their annoying, screen addicted teens to get out of the house and have beers at the park like true South Buffalonians. Members of the community will tell you however, part of the responsibility of drinking in the park is cleaning up after yourself. And it’s taught from an early age.
Lefty McLaughten, a seventy-four year old retired postal worker recalls growing up on Amber Street and learning his South Buffalo ABC’s: “Before I even went to school I would sing the ABC song with my mom and at the end she always had a subtle extra message: “. . . qrs, tuv, wx, y and z—throw your beer cans in the garbage please.” I never had to think about it twice once I started pounding Gennies at Mulroy Park. But these goddamn kids today—no respect.”
Whitey Smith, a thirty-four year old spin-instructor at Planet Fitness didn’t receive such gentle instruction. “I was maybe seven or eight and my friend Timmy Baush was over playing and we left a couple of empty juice boxes on my front steps. When my dad saw the juice boxes he got really mad and said, “You know what happens to people who don’t clean up after themselves—they go to jail.” And he locked Timmy and I in our front hall closet. Longest six hours of my life. I never forgot that lesson once I started drinking at Hillary Park.”
This was the topic of conversation among the morning crowd at Stankey’s Cafe. From behind the timber the barmaid Bev said, “Maybe if we weren’t a bunch of prissy little snowflakes stuff like this wouldn’t happen. I’m not saying you have to beat’em or anything, but a few well-placed backhands to the side of their heads would more than motivate these little assholes to pick up after themselves.”
John O’Brien struck a defeated tone, “What are you gonna do? You start pounding on these kids like our parents did to us, who’s going to help reset our passwords or show us how to do a search on Hulu?”
“It’s all coming apart,” said Abby Fitzgerald sipping a Fireball, “First they stop coming home when the church bells ring, next they’re leaving their beer cans all over the place. It’s a giant shit show.”
Early word is Father McDorf’s homily at Saint Tommy’s this coming weekend is: “Societal Decay: One Beer Can At A Time.”