Once again, we dig into the archives and bring the past into the present…
Being born and raised in Buffalo, it’s almost mandatory that you be a Buffalo Bills fan. Fortunately, it came easily to me.
My dad was a big football fan and it was our Sunday tradition to watch the Bills away games on tv. He also had season tickets he shared with our “Uncle Al”. It was a rite of passage when we reached fifth grade and could have our own season ticket and go to home games. I knew I had arrived!
The Bills first stadium was War Memorial Stadium on the corner of Jefferson and Dodge streets in Buffalo. Affectionally known as “The Rockpile” it was built during the depression as a WPA project, opening in 1937. The Bills began play there in their inaugural season of 1960. They moved to what is now New Era Field in Orchard Park to start the 1973 season.
The stadium was used for minor league baseball and college football until 1988 when it was partially torn down and the land used to create a public park with a track and field stadium. This image was made the day of the ceremonial sledgehammer strike to start the demolition. The media were allowed to wander the stadium and relive it’s better days.
I walked the concourse along the same path we used to take to get to our endzone seating. I made my way to our old seats and sat for awhile and reminisced. I thought about all those Sundays sitting with dad and eating the popcorn we had popped the night before. I thought about how cold the games were in December, and how we used to bundle ourselves up. we had seen far more losses than wins, I thought about how I used to tuck a transistor radio into a coat pocket with the cord for an earpiece that snaked through the top of my cloths. All that to hear Van Miller call the play-by-play. I thought about how we had seem far more losses than wins, but at that moment it didn’t seem to matter.
With the expansion of the stadium for the Bills first season in 1960 a roof was installed over the additional seating, At the eastern corner of the endzone a broadcast both for radio announcers was hung from the roof. Yes, that’s right. Hung from the roof. So to access the booth it was necessary to climb a narrow metal ladder to the platform that led to the entrance. It was small and cramped. I would guess it was really cold in the winter and stifling in the summer.
But the best feature was the trap door in the ceiling that led up to the roof. It was from there that I made this picture. I may be deathly afraid of heights, but there is something about having a camera in one’s hand that mitigates the fear.