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Off Main Street / The offbeat side of the news

Power nap

George Washington didn't sleep there, but the Curry home in North Tonawanda has its own paragraph in the history of presidential slumber.

Gerald Ford slept at Janet Curry's Christiana Street home one night after attending a GOP fundraiser at Gratwick Fire Hall in the late 1960s.

The recently departed ex-president was a well-known congressman from Michigan at the time, when the home was occupied by then-Rep. Henry Smith.

Curry, a judicial assistant to U.S. District Court Judge John T. Curtin, said Ford was tired and the Smith home made a convenient place to sack out for a night.

"[Ford] was a very unassuming fellow, a regular guy. You felt like you'd known him for years," said Louise Lewis, whose late husband, William "Bud" Lewis, drove Ford around that day.

Today, Curry's son, Joseph, occupies the second-floor room where Ford caught shut-eye.

"The room needs a makeover. Maybe we'll do a historical theme, with a 'Gerald Ford Slept Here' sign," Curry said.


A 'Dear Judge' letter

Former Laborers Local 91 president Mark Congi voiced some interesting opinions about politicians before heading to federal prison in a big labor racketeering case.

In a letter to his sentencing judge, Congi said the late leader of the Niagara Falls union -- Michael "Butch" Quarcini -- "bought" government leaders by giving them political donations.

"[Quarcini] did this right down to the local city council members," Congi wrote. "We also have many family members of law enforcement officials and children of politicians working in the labor union. He knew how to pull strings like no one I've ever known."

Congi, who led a union "goon squad" responsible for vandalism, beatings, death threats and a firebombing, said he met three American presidents -- Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton -- during his tenure as a Local 91 leader.

With his letter, Congi included a hand-drawn Christmas card that he made in jail.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Arcara thanked him for the card but sent him to prison for 15 years anyway.


Going to the birds

No one by the name Tippi Hedren lives in the neighborhood.

But spooky black crows by the hundreds have been finding a temporary home this winter in the treetops along, you guessed it, Bird Avenue in the Delaware District.

A little scary indeed, if you've ever seen Hitchcock's 1963 masterpiece starring Hedren.

Worse, though, is the mess.

We might not have any snow, but the squawky birds are dropping their own form of the white stuff all over windshields, driveways and sidewalks.

Something else to chalk up to global warming?


Say it ain't so, Eliot

For Bills fans, watching Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer take a brisk jog before his inauguration Monday was a bit like finding out your girlfriend is seeing another guy on the side.

What do we mean? Well, back in October Spitzer told the Associated Press that his favorite NFL team is the Bills.

Apparently, to borrow a Spitzer campaign slogan, on Day One everything really does change.

Photos of Spitzer from his Monday jog show him wearing a knit cap with -- horrors! -- the logo of the New York Giants.

The Giants? They don't even play their home games in New York State. What gives, guv?

Spitzer spokesman Paul Larrabee said the governor did not mean to slight the Bills. His boss is a fan of every football team from New York, he said, noting the Giants do hold training camp in Albany.

"I'm sure there's no limit for his support of teams here in New York," Larrabee said.

Written by Stephen T. Watson with contributions from Dan Herbeck and Jay Tokasz.


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