Sunday, September 20, 2009

Old 1st Ward Nicknames

For a few years back in the 90s, I worked at the Old 1st Ward Community Center on Republic St. Some people say it's where the seeds of my insanity were first planted. Actually, I was able to meet many terrific kids and families down there. Some are still doing remarkably well. Others show up periodically on my weekly crime stats report.

One of the things I'll never forget were the crazy nicknames the kids gave each other. There were certain kids whose actual first names were unknown to even their own friends. Some of the names I remember were "Mooch" Felschow (not to be confused with my fellow staff member "Mooch" Cullen), "Bubba" Conway, "Louie" LaRusch, "Bizzy" Sumbrum, "Yoda" Brill, "Wack" Bannister, Brian "Smitty" Smith (incidently, Smitty's dad was known to everyone as "Bughead"), The Heidenger's uncle Tom (known as "Hot Wire" Heidinger because he was a skilled electrician), there was a kid known simply as "Dirtball", and another kid who came up from Pennysylvania. He had pure blonde hair like the wrestler Ric Flair so they called him "Pa. Flair". There were many more that I can't remember.

One of my favorite stories involves the Heidinger's ficticious uncle Cecil. There were about 10 Heidingers in the phone book. All except one were the Heidingers from the 1st Ward. The other one was a Cecil Heidinger who was listed with an East side address. For those that don't know, the Old 1st Ward is one of the whitest neighborhoods in the city. Whenever there was a big event at the center, there might only be only a few blacks in attendance. Nick and Andrew Heidinger and myself would always try to be the first to spot their crazy ficticious "uncle Cecil". It wasn't meant to be racist, just an ongoing inside joke. We had some great times back then. I miss the Old 1st Ward and the people I met down there. Here is an article from today's Buffalo News that made me think of those days.

List of nicknames is big hit at reunion*

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