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LAMM POST EXEMPLIFIES SOME OF THE SERVICE PROVIDED BY VETERANS ORGANIZATIONS

"We changed one important part of our route this year, We used to have our Alzheimer's Memory Walk start at the Lamm Post. Now we are so big we are having it start at Erie Community College North."

The above words from Linda Sabo of the Alzheimer's Association is partial answer to another question -- "What does the Legion do when there are no battles to be won?" The answer is, of course, that it does many things to help the community.

A fairly complete answer might be, "The American Legion sponsors numerous programs for young people, including Scouting, American Legion Baseball and Boys State and Boys Nation. The organization, which authored the original GI Bill in the 1940s, has developed a comprehensive reform package for veterans' health care."

It also led the fight to get the Smithsonian Institution to eradicate an offensive display several years ago and keeps on top of veteran affairs all the time.

Yes, I am one of the 1,100 members of the George F. Lamm Post, American Legion, in Amherst and, like all except about 30 people, do no work at the post. The main part of that I leave to good people like Charley Hershlag, Carl Domesek, Norm Beeler, Carl Sinclair, Bill Kleinfelder, Jack and Joan Keller, Ruth Weber, Barbara Kuhn, Pat Schalburg and Mary Lou Hershlag.

Although I don't go to that post too often, I am very aware that the grove behind it often is used -- especially on Memorial Day. You see, the Amherst Township 416 Post, Veterans of Foreign Wars, another of my posts, holds a breakfast meeting in alternate years with the Lamm Post.

Those Lamm Post members are good at giving "freebees" -- free food and refreshment -- and if you ask the volunteers from the Special Olympics or pre-1998 Alzheimer's Association, they will tell you how much love is involved. On those days the members stand very tall.

Saturday nights, the Lamm Post has a dance, open to the public for $1 a rattle and featuring "sensible songs." By "sensible songs" they mean the songs you hum as you leave.

Anyway, the handsome grove is managed by Jack and Joan Keller -- see today's picture. And, as a person once said, "Joan has the sort of sweet face one could pour on waffles." And her husband, the grove manager, had the answer to a question that had been bugging me since the grove opened in 1979.

Many spots are bothered by private organizations that take away their customers. I recall a brewery in Manhattan that had to close its hospitality room because of complaints from restaurateurs.

"There's a good reason why we don't get complaints," Keller said. "We are not competition. We ask for a minimum of 60 people, and there is no other place in Amherst that can handle that number for, say, lunch. Here I will note that there have been times we have had 600 people. And we always close at the end of October when people don't seem to like going outside."

How about the prices, which are known to be lower at a veterans post?

"For $10.95 a person, we have hamburgers, hot dogs and all that goes with it. Jump to $13, and you have the roast beef dinner. It's all buffet. And we ask everyone to be out by 9 o'clock."

What groups have had picnics there?

You name them, the Kellers reply. They include National Fuel retirees and Westinghouse retirees, among others.

How about the help?"

"We have about eight waitresses, three bartenders and three men on the grill," Mrs. Keller said. "And they must all be members of the Legion here or the auxiliary."

On Oct. 17, Amherst Township 416, VFW, will provide some friendly competition when a woman named Jennie Sullivan holds a dance to benefit cancer research. And when I see and hear Mrs. Sullivan in action that night, I will hear the words of a wise man again.

"It it weren't for the women's auxiliaries, there wouldn't be a post in operation today."

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