By MaryLesa Burns O'Connor
It’s difficult not to drive down Cayuga Road or anywhere near the airport without thinking of the good old days at the Buffalo Trap and Field Club.
Presently a business park sits there but you get that feeling as you go by deep in your heart as if your heart remembers. Years ago it is where my family and many other Buffalo families spent most of their time in the summer. Many of those friends I still am in contact with today. We made lifelong friendships and cherish many memories of those carefree days.
You may remember swim team practices or lifesaving classes, swim meets, Fourth of July parties and parades. The championships were daylong events that kept us out in the hot sun and were the highlight of the summer. You knew your event and the time you had to beat. You can still taste the giant ice cream cones if you close your eyes and see yourself waiting in line at the famous snack bar. In between you sat in groups chatting waiting for your order as names were called, Burns, Ogiony, Galbo, Migliore, Kinkel, Wylegala, Kubanet, Urban, Bargnes, Dentinger, Lorenzo, Creighton, Quinn, Rahill and many others.
Thursday nights were swim meets and you were either in a Speedo or had a sweater around your neck cheering on a family member or friend. Your parents enjoyed the Dip and Dine, the adult swim and the still legendary Grill Room bar. (That bar has been transplanted in Buffalo somewhere. Do tell if you know its whereabouts.) You enjoyed a club sandwich with sounds of skeet shooting in the background. I have memories of Mr. Frank Schreck dressed in flag attire leading the parade on the Fourth of July where we then participated in many games the club provided.
The end of summer culminated with a banquet where Coach Ed Magner handed out his special awards. I loved that time of year as I got to pick out a new dress. The banquet was held in a large ballroom, always a fun night for all.
I was not a competitive swimmer rather took a lifesaving course, skills I am still proud to know today. I remember having to go down to the bottom of the pool and every time I ran out of breath until a cute lifeguard escorted me down. We came back with the brick I was to retrieve and everyone clapped for me around the pool. We had to swim a mile and that was easy but the brick retrieval was not! I passed. I received my lifesaving card. More importantly I have a life skill. I still enjoy swimming at the YMCA today and am proud to know I could save someone if I had to.
The kids that were on that team are now professionals that include an architect, a few physicians, a dentist, a veterinarian, a famous musician and an influential city businessman. What made that place so special? Well I will tell you. Our parents were all hard workers and taught us the value of never quitting and working towards a goal.
It was a family affair. They were humble and down-to-earth people and so are their children, which is why it is such a joy to still call them friends. It was a special place and a special time. If you were there you understand and if you were not, you can never. Let us close our eyes and remember those days with joy as they shaped us into who we are today.
MaryLesa O'Connor learned a lot from her days at the Buffalo Trap and Field Club.