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As Niagara Falls / Tales of the strange but true

> Love must be blind

We don't know whom to feel more sorry for these days: Maid of the Mist Pageant contestant Jennifer Starkey or those of the male persuasion.

Starkey, 19, was asked in an onstage interview during the pageant late last month where in Niagara Falls is the best spot for a first date. She answered, "No one ever asks me out."

The Buffalo State College communications and Spanish major quickly explained that between school and a job, she's so busy she doesn't have time for that sort of thing, anyway.

Kibitzers quickly concluded that the men at Buff State suffer from poor taste, poor eyesight, or both. Starkey was first runner-up in the pageant.

> Drumming up support

A benefit concert for Red Cross relief for victims of Hurricane Katrina will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday in front of Lockport City Hall.

All spectators will be asked to bring a cash donation for the Red Cross.

"It will feature the one, the only CRS Band," Common Council President John Lombardi III, the drummer and leader of the oldies outfit, announced at last week's Council meeting.

"Do we need relief from the band, too?" cracked Alderman Patrick W. Schrader.

> Stamp of approval?

Lombardi, always on the lookout to better himself, was interested when he saw a proposal in the 2006 city budget to buy a new $31,500 mail processing machine.

City Clerk Richard P. Mullaney said the Postal Service has told the city it will have a new method of mail handling as of Jan. 1 and the city's machine is no longer acceptable.

"For $31,500, we can hire somebody to lick stamps," Lombardi said. After a moment's reflection, he exclaimed, "I'll take it for $31,500."

So if the election doesn't go Lombardi's way, that cushy new patronage job may be a possibility.

> Bad news, times two

It was a double dose of trouble for a Niagara Falls woman recently. First, her son was charged with drunken driving, then she found that the money she had given him to pay bills had been stolen.

Her son told her he had left $250 in the glove box of the car, which had been towed from the scene of his arrest. When she went to retrieve the money, it was missing, police said, possibly being stolen by a couple seen in the area of the car by neighbors.

It appears crime paid for someone.

> Movie scramble

Whether it's a shortage of letters, poor adhesion or a new way of getting attention, we're not sure. All we know is, for months the movie listings on the Lockport Mall Cinema 8 signboard have been a bit, well, cryptic.

Here, for example, are recent flicks, as posted on the sign:

VALI NT

4BR S

DEUCE

SKEL K I

40 VIRGI

RED Y

PENGUINS

W DDI G

You need to be a "Wheel of Fortune" champ to figure some of these out, though we hear W DDI G is pretty good.

With contributions from Thomas J. Prohaska of the News Niagara Bureau.

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