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Columns

Barbara Campagna and Susan Penczkowski started on opposite sides of the crowd last Thursday inside One Seneca Tower, but they were drawn toward one another, like magnets. They kept reacting to the moment in the same delighted way, and they were glad someone else could understand what they were thinking. Inside the 1970s stone emptiness of the tower's main concourse, …

Columns

My father told me the story only once, less than two years before he died. He was smoking a cigarette on the sidewalk, by a Dunkirk street where workers from the nearby steel plant flooded past each afternoon. This was more than 30 years ago. My mother was at the kitchen table inside our house, already staggered by the lung cancer that would take her life. That moment r…

Columns

The picture seemed to explode into life on Facebook. It appeared in the Utica Observer-Dispatch, and it showed "Mr. Utica College" front and center on the stage, on graduation day. His arms were in the air, thrown up with spontaneous passion, cap in one hand while the young man’s face was eclipsed by utter joy. If you wanted the definition of education as triumph, there…

Columns

This column originally ran only digitally, just before Mother's Day. It was revised as a tribute for the print version of The Buffalo News, following the death of Mario Pirastru. Thirty years ago this spring, my mother died of lung cancer. She was only 65. It was a fast and difficult descent. I was a young reporter at the time for the Niagara Gazette. After the funeral,…

Columns

It's Election Day 2016, and I’m thinking of Tom Niland Jr. We’ve had more than a year of campaign ugliness, of ridicule and savage words, in a nation that feels utterly torn apart. We've had televised debates raw and bitter enough to leave you shaken, awake in bed, after watching them. We've had tapes and exchanges involving accounts of graphic disrespect toward women. …

Local News

Herman Melville understood the full power of the Great Lakes. In Moby Dick, his triumphant 19th century novel about American whaling, Melville described the Great Lakes as “grand freshwater seas.” He wrote of “dismasting blasts as direful as any that lash the salted wave,” winds that “have drowned full many a midnight ship with all its shrieking crew." That is the spiri…

Local News

For more than a decade, Jim Buschman has supervised the Soule Cemetery, in Cayuga County. Throughout the years, he’s always assumed that some memorable historical figures were buried in a distant corner of a graveyard, where the state once interred hundreds of unidentified remains removed from another cemetery used by the 199-year-old state prison, in nearby Auburn. Bus…

Local News

Joe Ehrmann will always be bound to Buffalo. The city is in his voice, in the rhythm of his life. “I stay very connected,” he said. Ehrmann lives in Baltimore, but he visited Western New York twice in the past month. He quietly comes and goes all the time, he said. The women who helped shape his life during his Riverside childhood are still here: His mother Peg, in her …