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A Grand Islander's long-ago poetic plea for a bridge

The imminent move to eliminate toll booths from the bases of the Grand Island bridges is being seen as partial good news for town residents and those who must cross the island to get where they need to go.

But it will not eliminate complaints.

Then again, island residents have been complaining for generations about the difficulty they face coming and going from their homes, thanks to the Niagara River.

Shirley Luther, 93, remembers the hard-fought effort to get a bridge. That battle ended when the first bridge opened in 1935. Her grandfather Henry Long was among those who went to Washington D.C. to lobby for a bridge in the late 1800s and early 1900s. He also served as town supervisor from 1918-1924.

Before there was a bridge, residents often said they felt "trapped"on the island when ice stopped the ferry boats from crossing the Niagara River.

That occurrence prompted Luther's mother, Mabel Long Krueger, to pen a poem which appeared in the Buffalo Evening News in 1929 and was reprinted in the Island Dispatch in 1989.

Here it is again:

Marooned like Robinson Crusoe
Upon this island grand,
We as tax-payers of our nation
Would fain a bridge demand.

For ten and six years or more
'Tis hard to be exact
We've had to pay a ferryman
To take us to town and back.

We have produce for city markets
And milk for babies there,
But out of all our profits
Must come the ferry fare.

If we had saved our money
So stories have been told,
And started building long ago
We'd had a bridge of gold.

But money isn't all our trouble.
It's waiting that "gets our goat."
We are down at the ferry at 10 o'clock
And make the 1 o'clock boat.

For when the river is jammed with ice
We can't blame the ferry man,
He's only using his common sense
And doing the best he can.

..."Well why don't you move?" we hear you say
"Away from that wretched place:"
But, it is our Homeland, we love it
And we are a patient race

For if someday the mainland
Is joined to this beautiful spot,
It will indeed be Paradise
Instead of a place God forgot.

 

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