from Neighborhood to 'Nam......and back.

Growing up in a close knit neighborhood during the ‘50s and ‘60s was not unusual, it was the norm. Friendships were long and the bonds were tight. Friends walked to school together; joined scouts together; played sports together; grew up together. They dated and married girls from the neighborhood. . .And, most of them went to war together, not as a group, but as single individuals….and those same friends parted ways for a time. Each moving on to a new phase of their life.

The neighborhood was ‘Kaisertown’, a Polish-American community on the far east side of Buffalo New York. . .the war was Vietnam.

This blog is a collaboration of stories and experiences from this group of men, childhood buddies, all now in their sixties, whose friendships have lasted a lifetime.

These are also recollections from those young men who stayed behind. . ’caretakers’, as you will, of the old neighborhood that was a part of them . . .keeping the memories alive until all returned.


Heroes Grove Honors Local Veterans

For those of us who grew up in Kaisertown, Houghton Park holds some great memories.  It was always a place that we would meet up with friends and just be teenagers, participate in sports, and even school events, but mostly we enjoyed the outdoors at this beautiful
neighborhood park.

We also remember the WWII Monument that was the parks focal point.  As kids, we sat on it, played on it, but the real reason behind it wouldn’t sink in until later in our lives, when so many of those same teenagers were called to war themselves.  That’s when this monument became a memorial in our hearts.

In 1988, the stone monument was moved with great care to a more prestigious place at the front of Houghton Park.  Since then,  some of Kaisertown’s very own Veterans and Friends have been caring for the grounds around it, and have made it what it is today, ‘Heroes Grove’.  Additional monuments have been added over the years, Pearl Harbor, Korea, Vietnam, and even 9/11...trees, flowers, shrubs, and even benches have been added, and behind the monument itself proudly stands a flag pole with the ‘American Flag’ and the ‘MIA’ flag waving in the wind.  Plans are in the works for the addition of an Iraq-Afghanistan monument in the near future.

We have these Veteran’s, friends, and a local politician, Richard Fontana, to thank for keeping this Monument and the Grove that surrounds it in such beautiful condition.    Heroes Grove is in
appreciation to all of our veterans who have kept us safe throughout the years.  It is a reminder, that without these young men and women, some of whom have made the ultimate sacrifice, our way of life would disappear.

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