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Expats: A love letter to Buffalo

Ah, Buffalo. No matter where we go, you always seem to follow – whether it's through a fellow Bills fan who reacts to a Buffalo shirt or a simple, ever-present feeling in our hearts.

"I'm never a former Buffalonian, no matter where I live," said Phyllis Steinmueller, now a resident of Ellijay, GA.

But how do you describe that feeling? People who responded to The Buffalo News' recent question – "Ex-pats, what do you miss most about Buffalo?" – had plenty of ways.

For John Lucas Jr., originally from Cheektowaga, it's not the food or Bills Sundays that make him miss home the most. When his plane's wheels touch down in the 716, he gets a choked-up feeling in his throat. As he walks through the airport, he hears the faint start of a Goo Goo Dolls song.

"The thing that gets me the most is that feeling of home," said Lucas, now living in Florida's Gulf coast. "It's home, and there's no better feeling in the world."

For others, it's the memories of people and places.

"There is something about being from Buffalo. It's a bond like no other city I have ever lived in," said Hank Volpe, originally from North Buffalo.

Walking down the street, met with smiles from strangers passing by. Monday mornings at work after a Bills victory. Long lazy rides up Delaware Avenue from downtown to Kenmore.

Volpe currently lives in Philadelphia, Pa. "Philly is quite a city, but Buffalo has a heart."

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Lisa Sievenpiper Davis, originally from Alden, used the infamous Blizzard of '77 to describe that ever-present feeling. Stories of a neighbor who jumped on a snowmobile to help someone out of the snow and cold. Another spent hours and hours shoveling snow from an elderly man's driveway.

"Maybe all mid-sized cities have that same type of atmosphere, I don't know," said Davis, now a resident of Los Angeles, Calif. "I just know that Buffalo's got it in spades."

If you ask Maureen Mallick-Dakalis, originally from Williamsville, the environment is unique to the 716. She said she's traveled to many cities and countries, and she was always told the Midwest had the friendliest people in the country. However, she said, only Buffalo has "the most undeniable hospitality."

"Simply stated, I not only love the city," said the current resident of Chicago, Ill., "I adore the people that reside there and am proud to call it home."

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