On the job in Middleport

Recollected by Bill Shaw, long-time Middleport resident We worked on Saturdays too in those days. Someone realized that I didn’t have my working papers. I got sent to old Doc Wilmont. He gave them to me and I went right back to work in the machine shop. In 1925, I began working at Niagara Sprayer as an adult in the sales department. I got a job there because I had helped out on the Niagara Sprayer farm. George Thompson, who was President of Niagara Sprayer, ran for the Governor of New York State on the Prohibition Ticket. He was an officer in the power and light company in Lockport too. After Bill O’Shaunessey burnt his legs on steam, he asked me to run the Basket More Info »

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Delivering to the Basket Factory

By Anna Wallace, Former Village Historian This is how the Basket Factory look in about 1908. Seated on the delivery wagon is Paul McClew of Watson Ave. how is about to leave to deliver 5,000 four-quart baskets to some farmers. Standing beside the wagon are Ray Harrington, John O’Shaughnessey and J.C. Jackson. Mr. O’Shaughnessey and his brother, Tim, ran the factory at that time. McClew tells of how often he left the factory at 7 a.m. to deliver baskets and didn’t return until 9 or 10 p.m. Sometimes when he got sleepy, if he was close enough to home, he would lay at the bottom of the empty wagon and let his team or horses bring him home to Middleport.

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Taking the trolley

The trolley depot was at the corner of Main and Park Ave. It was torn down to build the post office. The trolley stopped at all the crossroads. The horse shed for the Universalist Church used to be back behind there too. There were horse sheds behind all the churches. People used them on Sunday and also when they took the trolley to Lockport and other places.

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Middleport High School’s last play

The Star Theatre was referred to as the opera house and was on State Street. On the second floor was a dance hall. The last play put on by the Middleport High School was performed there in 1924. It was called, “She Stoops to Conquer.” I (Bill Shaw) was the manager of scenery for the play. This photo shows the inside of the Opera House. At one time, there were two telephone companies in Middleport, Home and Bell. The Home office was over the drug store, which is now Dan Seaman’s building on the corner of Main and State St. On Saturday nights back in the day, Main St. in Middleport was lined with cars. Farmers came into town to spend the evening. They’d shop More Info »

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A dairy in Middleport

Harry Shaw started a milk business from his car. He would load the milk from the family farm on Griswold St. and sell it in glass bottles. He built a little block building on South St. in Middleport for his dairy. After the milk was processed in Lockport at the Gascoyne Dairy, Shaw would deliver it in the Village of Middleport. He sold homemade ice cream there too. At Shaw’s Dairy it cost 5 cents for a double dip cone in the summer. He had chocolate milk in the winter. He sold the milk to the school. The kids especially liked the chocolate. Shaw’s son, Donald Shaw, ran the dairy later on and then sold it to Frank Houseman. Competition was tough and it went More Info »

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Farming memories

My father owned a large farm north of Middleport known as the Mather Farm. My father, Jay B. Mather, farmed what was the old William Van Horn farm on the Stone Road. Stone Road at one time was known as the Plank road. All of this land was purchase from the Holland Land Co. in Batavia. Before my family farmed it, William Van Horn raised the hay for the mules that drew the boats on the canal there. I was born on this farm site and lived there until 1980. The bricks that were used to build the big house and the carriage barn on the farm were made at a brickyard, which was north of the Van Horn Farm on the Stone Road. The bricks More Info »

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The Lamp Lighter

By Edwin T. Sheldon I was born in 1941 at 25 Francis Street. I spent the first 25 years of my life there. I have been reading over the information on the Erie Barge Canal but there was no information on the old Lamp Lighter. I remember that in the 1940s, there was a small tugboat parked at the old Basket Factory pond that was used to fill the old kerosene lamps along the canal. As young boys, my brother, Robert, and I would go there from school to fish. The man who ran the tugboat would let us ride up and down the canal with him while he filled the lamps. I do not recall the man’s name but he worked for the State More Info »

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Westy’s by the bridge

In the 1950’s and into the early 60’s, there a little ramshackle store called “Westy’s” that was situated next to the bridge tower. It was run by an old man named Raymond Midaugh. He used to sell candy, cigarettes and in the fall cider, both hard and soft. In the back room (there were only 2 rooms), there was what seemed to be a never ending euchre game being played by some ancient old men. I remember Westy’s was the first place to sell Atomic Fireballs candy. This was in 1954. I was 11 yrs. old then. I remember those days like it was last month. John O’Stewart, Plaquemine, La.

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Down on Main Street

Being a former long-time resident of Middleport, I found the article in the Union Sun and Journal about the Village’s sesquicentennial celebration very interesting. I was eight years old the year of the bicentennial and my parents purchased a derby hat for me for the occasion at Harputer’s store on State Street. (No, I’m sorry, that was Sam’s Grocery Store—Harputer’s was on Main Street near Jones Hardware.) I still have and display the two commemorative plates from 1959 even though I live in Lockport now. I remembered more of the establishments that no longer grace Main Street. There was J & J’s, the after school hangout, the Fenton Hotel that my friends and I used to explore, hoping not to get caught. Then there was More Info »

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Good eating at the American Hotel

Thanks to Margaret Droman for this memory. The American Hotel on Vernon Street next to the railroad tracks, run by Frank and Fanny Antonucci, was a popular place for locals to enjoy some good home cooking. There was a daily 75 cents special with a salad and vegetable on one side of the plate and meat on the other.  A popular special was 2 hamburgers with onions, mashed potatoes and gravy.  Bologna roast was another favorite as was the lasagna and of course fish on Fridays.  Spaghetti was served with sausage or meatballs. Pie was available for 15 cents extra and since Fanny had never made pies before, a lady was hired to help with the pie making.  Dough for the crust was made every More Info »

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