A personal recollection of Mr. Ralph Claxton, a lifelong resident of the Ellwood section of the Town of Tonawanda.

In 1918, when I was four, my mother and father moved from Buffalo to Harrison Avenue in the Ellwood section of the Town of Tonawanda. At that time it was a dirt road. After we had lived there a couple of years it was covered with crushed stone. Harrison started at Belmont Avenue and ran east across the Erie Railroad and the International Railway Company tracks. The yellow High Speed trolley ran from Buffalo to Niagara Falls and the green trolley ran from Buffalo to Lockport and Olcott on the IRC tracks. There was a yellow waiting station along the tracks, about 100 feet from Harrison, where we got the trolley to go into Buffalo.

On the Erie Railroad tracks steam-fired locomotives pulled freight and passenger trains from Buffalo to Niagara Falls and back. Sometimes sparks from the engines' smoke-stacks started grass fires; then the firemen came with brooms and shovels.

We had no house-to-house mail delivery. Our mail box was on a post at Belmont and Arlington (later named Highland) Avenues. We had rural delivery route RFD#2. It was at least one half mile from our house to the mail box. The mail carrier drove and old Model T Ford.

When we moved to Harrison in 1918 we had no sewers, no water, no electric or gas on our street. Electric service and a water line reached us a few years later. In 1939 we still had no gas or sewers on the street. Only five houses were on the south side of Harrison in the area where Loretta was later cut through. Harrison ended in front of the easternmost house.

There was a small creek or drainage ditch about 100 feet behind our houses which crossed land where Harrison would have gone had it been continued. The creek ran about where Parker Boulevard was later cut through. I attended a one room, one teacher school house on Englewood Avenue. We had to cut through the fields to get there, even during winter. Even then, it was about a mile walk each way from our house. Across the street from the school were large barns and the homes of the Zuege family. At lunch time we used to go into the barn and get a half pint of fresh milk for three cents. Sometimes we were able to watch them milking the cows.

Where Lincoln Park is now was all woods from about Parker Boulevard nearly to Niagara Falls Boulevard. I remember, one time, a caravan of gypsies with their wagons and horses were camped at the east end of the woods off Niagara Falls Boulevard. They were there several days and used to come around the houses in the neighborhood begging and to see what they could take. We had a flock of chickens at the time, so we had to keep our eye on those people.

As kids, we used to be in the woods summer and winter making shelters and cooking ou over an open wood fire. In winter we skated on the ponds and swamps. The whole area abounded in rabbits, skunks, squirrels, muskrats, weasels, ducks, pheasants, hawks, owls, and flocks of crows. Hunters used to hunt right back of our houses and across the street. One time when I was small, another boy and I were playing under some bushes across from our houses and nearly got shot by a hunter. He saw something moving under the bushes and couldn't quite make out what it was. That hunter was Clarence Hirshback, Sr., a veteran of World War 1 and one of our first town policemen. Another time he shot a large snow owl across the street from our house; it was an extra large one. I remember there being a picture and article in the paper.

"Shaf's" had a farm on Belmont Avenue, near where Sheridan Drive was later put in. I remember walking over to get a pail of milk and butter and eggs to take home. "Henel's" also had a dairy farm on Englewood where Belmont was later cut through. All these farmers use to pasture their cattle over the whole area; they also used to cut hay all over this section.

Curtiss Airport was located on the corner of Eggert Road and Niagara Falls Boulevard. They had the whole area bounded by Eggert Road, the Falls Boulevard, where Parker is now, and to the woods which later became Lincoln Park. We kids went down the runways to the hangers, especially on Sundays when they had stunt fliers and parachute jumping. There was always a crowd there. We knew of one place where a plane had crashed near the woods. Just some of the frame was visible above ground, most of it was buried. It was like that for years.

At the northwest corner of the woods was a large wild strawberry patch. All the neighbors used to pick quarts of berries; every family had all they could eat, and made strawberry jam. They were delicious. There were also wild leeks, blackberries, and huckleberries. The woods were filled with wild flowers and pussy-willows.

During, and immediately following, World War 1 there used to be camp along the railroad tracks from Kenmore Avenue, north to the woods on the east side of the tracks. This was called Camp Kenilworth where soldiers trained on a large rifle range. Where the ball diamonds are now, south of Lincoln Park, they had huge targets with half inch steel backstops on large mounds to stop the rifle bullets. We all went there after they didn't use it anymore and dug out lead from the mounds to sell. Some kids dug bushels full.

I remember one hickory nut tree, about halfway from our house to where Sheridan Drive was later put in. I also remember a small clear, cold stream that ran east of the woods, near Niagara Falls Boulevard where my dad and grandfather used to get pickerel. The fish laid side by side near the surface where they were easy targets for their "22" rifles.

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