Review: Sal’s Birdland Chicken Dinner

Like many people, I gained “a few” pounds over the course of the pandemic. My new job that I began in January 2021 was/is also a big strain, physically, and I regularly turned to “comfort food” to get me through the work weekend. Ice cream every night! Enough finally became ENOUGH in mid-May when I tipped the scale at my all-time-highest weight. It was time to pull out the “big guns” and once again go on my 100% fail-safe Sal’s Birdland Diet!

Well, I reached the half-way point of my weight-loss goal a couple of weeks ago, so I rewarded myself by driving the eleven miles to Sal’s Birdland at 400 Air Park Drive off of Scottsville Road across from the Rochester airport. Salvatore “Sal” Nalbone (1939-2021) opened the original Sal’s Birdland in 1974, a few blocks south of the current site.* I feasted on my first Sal’s half-chicken dinner in 1977 and have been a fan for 45 years.

While I’ve mentioned my Sal’s Birdland Diet several times over the course of the seven years that I’ve been blogging, I don’t believe I’ve ever actually reviewed Sal’s delicious half-chicken dinner. Time to rectify that oversight.

Sal’s Birdland Half-Chicken Dinner

5 Stars

Sal’s has a number of entrées on the menu (check the website below), but the half-chicken dinner is the go-to, flagship entrée.

Sal’s coats a small half-chicken in a light, seasoned batter and deep fries it until it’s golden crispy on the outside. The searing deep-fry locks in the meat’s tenderness. The bird is served on two slices of white bread and coated with Sal’s signature “sassy” sauce. My mouth is watering as I type this. Sal’s sauce is a mustard-based, sweet and hot sauce. There are several similar competing versions that are popular here in the Rochester area, including Snuffy’s** (aka Smitty’s), Boss Sauce, and Country Sweet. I always ask for the mild Sal’s sassy sauce. Sure, I like spicy food, but the hot sassy sauce is inedible. Sides? It’s your choice of potato wedges, macaroni salad, baked beans, collard greens, or mac & cheese. I always choose the mac salad and collard greens. Both are delicious, although the greens are a bit on the salty side. Sal’s vinegary blue cheese dipping sauce is a nice complement, although not mandatory.

The half-chicken dinner isn’t cheap at $14.70, but it’s well worth it.

There’s no better meal in this world than a Sal’s Birdland Half-Chicken Dinner. What about a $70 surf-and-turf, lobster tail and filet mignon dinner at a swanky restaurant? Keep it. Give me Sal’s.

https://salsbirdland.com/

Above: A Sal’s Birdland half-chicken coated with sassy sauce, and served with macaroni salad and collard greens on the side. Delish!
Above: Sal’s Birdland exterior, 400 Airpark Dr. (off Scottsville Rd), Rochester NY
Above: Sal’s Birdland’s unpretentious interior

Sal’s Birdland has a second location at 309 East Ridge Rd., Rochester, N.Y.

Yup, I’ll be going back to Sal’s again for another celebratory half-chicken dinner when I hit my final weight-loss goal in about 12-weeks. That’s the “can’t-fail” secret of the Sal’s Birdland Diet.

*Sal’s Birdland’s first location was in a round, glass-paned, 1960s-style building in front of the Olympic Park Roller Skating Center at 1300 Scottsville Rd. The building, which no longer exists, was originally home to a burgers and fries joint that I can’t recall the name of. After enjoying skating parties with my grammar school classmates at Olympic in the late 1960s, we would enjoy a cold Coke at the burgers and fries joint as we waited for our parents to pick us up.

**There’s zero doubt that Sal Nalbone patterned his Sal’s Birdland after Smitty’s/Snuffy’s Birdland. Former professional boxer, Harry “Snuffy” Smith, hung up his boxing gloves in the mid-1950s and shortly thereafter opened his first restaurant, Smitty’s Birdland, on Ormond Street in the city. Smith concocted a ketchup and mustard-based, sweet-hot sauce for his fried chicken that became legendary throughout Rochester. The restaurant relocated to several sites over the years, but eventually ended up at 575 Brooks Avenue in 1997, where it was renamed Snuffy’s Birdland. Smith closed the joint in 2002, retired down to Phoenix, and died in 2008 at the age of 86. Snuffy’s ketchup and mustard-based “Original Gourmet B.B.Q Sauce” is still being produced and bottles are available at several Rochester groceries, right next to bottles of Sal’s Sassy Sauce (a future post). While Rochester is known throughout the world for its Garbage Plate served at Nick Tahou’s (see here), its other contribution to international haute cuisine is the fried half-chicken coated in sweet-hot sauce dinner introduced by Harry Smith and perpetuated by Sal Nalbone at their respective “Birdlands.” Although it’s probably never been put into print before, it can rightly be said that Nalbone brought Smith’s inner-city “soul food” to the Rochester suburbs.

Whatever happened to Snuffy’s Birdland? – Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, Nov. 15, 2021

See ya later, Big Jim

I began working at Eastman Kodak’s giant Elmgrove manufacturing plant in Rochester, N.Y. in 1976 at the age of nineteen. One of the first jobs I had was in Bldg. 3 Stock Control (parts warehouse) assisting a big, burly guy named Jim Moon. Jim was a “line reader,” meaning he walked one of the many camera production lines in Bldg. 2 every day and re-ordered parts as needed. My job was to deliver the parts to the line.

Big Jim was different from the other guys in the warehouse. He had a Bible on his desk, which he read during lunch break. Above his desk were a few decorative print-outs praising Jesus. It was noticeable that Jim didn’t join in the ribald banter with the other warehouse guys. Uh-oh. Jim was one of those born-again Bible-bangers I’d heard about! I had better watch out! However, Jim and I eventually had several conversations about spiritual things. I specifically remember him enthusiastically talking about Bob Dylan and his alleged conversion to Gospel Christianity (see the related post here). I also remember discussing the Baptist Temple Building in downtown Rochester, the topic of a future post. Jim would slip God into a conversation every now and then. It wasn’t unnatural or forced. That’s just the way Big Jim rolled.

After several months, I moved on to another position at Kodak. In 1983, I actually became one of those “Bible-bangers” myself when I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior. Jim’s witness wasn’t a “direct” influence on my conversion to Christ, but it was an influence.

I’ve thought about Jim every once in a while over the years and wondered what happened to him. A few weeks ago, I was reading the death notices in the local newspaper and noticed his obituary. Jim had retired from Kodak many years ago and moved down to Mt. Juliet, Tennessee (20 miles from Nashville) with his wife. He died at the age of 89, which means he was only around 45 when we worked together. I would have guessed he was much older at the time, but everybody is “old” when you’re 19-20. I remember Jim had sold his house and moved into an apartment in the late 70s to finance his son Jeffrey’s education at Oral Roberts University. Oral Roberts? Well, Jim and I definitely would not have worshiped at the same church, but we were brothers in Christ just the same.

I’m looking forward to seeing Jim in Heaven and thanking him for his witness.

The lesson: Christians, the unsaved are watching and listening. Give them something to think about. They may not react right away. We’re just to keep sowing the seed.

Heluva Good New England Clam Dip Recipe

It’s June 1st and while Summer is officially still a few weeks away, we’ve already had some summer-like temps here in Rochester. Up here in the Rust Belt, we’re cooped-up inside from November to April, so it’s great to be outside once again in shorts and a t-shirt. One of the pleasures of Summer is grilling and dining outside. Clam dip and chips is a real crowd pleaser when we have family or friends over for a patio dinner. The post below was first published on July 10, 2017 and continues as this blog’s second most-viewed post of all time with 8081 hits to date.

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An accoutrement staple of Summer backyard picnic dining is potato chips and dip. One of my family’s favorite chip dips used to be a New England clam dip manufactured by a local cheese company named “Heluva Good” of all things (see photo). For some reason, Heluva Good stopped making its clam dip in the early aughts (2000s). Some said it was in response to tightening FDA regulations.

Unable to purchase clam dip, my hankering grew and grew until I finally started searching online for a clam dip recipe that was similar to Heluva Good’s. I found the one below several years ago. It’s a pretty close facsimile and very easy to make. Any time we serve it to guests they always rave about it. I could eat a whole bowl of clam dip with wavy chips in a single sitting all by myself, but my arteries clog up at just the thought of it.

p.s. Heluva Good was headquartered in nearby Sodus N.Y. but was bought out by food conglomerate HP Hood in 2004 and like most things in New York, production was eventually moved out of state. It’s also interesting that the slang term, “one hell of a…” is used to connote something that’s either very good or very bad. The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms says the phrase has its roots in the second half of the 1700s.


Heluva Good New England Clam Dip Recipe

  • 6.5 oz. can chopped clams
  • 6.5 oz. can minced clams
  • 8 oz. package Philadelphia brand cream cheese – allow to reach room temperature
  • ½ tsp. minced garlic
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 and ½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 dashes Red Hot or Tabasco sauce
  • ¼ tsp. paprika
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 pinch black pepper
  1. Drain clams, reserving ¼ cup clam broth. Put drained clams aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix cream cheese with hand-held electric mixer until smooth while adding clam broth, garlic, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, paprika, salt, and black pepper.
  3. Add clams and mix together with a spoon or spatula.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for three hours
  5. Sprinkle the top with some additional paprika before serving.

Serve with Lay’s Wavy Potato Chips. Enjoy!

Review: Pittsford Hots’ “Plate”

A couple of Thursdays ago, I was looking for something quick and easy for lunch and dinner prior to my work-weekend marathon, and it popped into my head that I’ve been meaning to try a “plate” from Pittsford Hots for several months. A plate? What’s that? A little background. Greater Rochester, New York doesn’t have much to brag about these days with the demise of Kodak, Xerox, and most other local manufacturing companies, resulting in a downward-spiraling economy, but we are the home of that culinary masterpiece, the Garbage Plate.

Above: Nick Tahou Hots, West Main Street, Rochester

The plate originated at Nick Tahou Hots, starting out as “hots and potats.” I experienced my first plate of “hots and potats” back in 1976, but the delicacy goes back farther than that. Late-night college-student customers subsequently kept asking for “the plate with all of the garbage on it,” so Nick recoined it as the “Garbage Plate” and even trademarked the name. A basic plate (i.e., my favorite version) is two hot dogs or two hamburgers or one of each (the combo) over macaroni salad and home fries and the whole thing smothered with Rochester-style meat hot sauce and raw onions. Other burger/hot dog joints picked up on the popular plate, but they must call their version something else besides a “Garbage Plate” because of Nick’s trademark. See my 2017 post about the plate here.

Anyway, our little village of Pittsford is about 8 miles from downtown Rochester. Main Street Pittsford is lined with quaint, picturesque brick buildings from the 19th-century, but the street-parking is almost non-existent (although there is parking in the rear), so the trendy boutique shops come and go like a revolving door. Former MCC women’s basketball coach, Tim Parrinello, and his wife took a shot and opened Pittsford Hots at 5 South Main Street last December. I’ve been meaning to try their version of the plate and finally got around to it on April 21. So without any further ado, let’s review Pittsford Hots’ version of the famous Rochester Garbage Plate.

Pittsford Hots’ Cheeseburger and Hot Dog Combo “Plate,” $11.99

5 Stars

I ordered a standard plate with a white hot and a cheeseburger over mac salad and home fries, all topped with Rochester-style meat hot sauce and raw onions (photo below). The hot dog and burger were good. I checked and, yes, Pittsford Hots uses Rochester’s very own Zweigles’ hots, the best dogs in the nation (see here). The mac salad was a little different with a touch of mustard added to the mix. Unorthodox, but still very tasty, and moist. The mac salad is key for me and some establishments’ mac salad is dried out from fridge burn. The home fries were okay, but I would have opted that they had been fried a bit longer for a crispier exterior. Not a deal breaker. The meat hot sauce anchors every plate and Pittsford Hots’ version is the standard meat sauce that Rochesterians love.* Not greasy and not too much heat. My one small gripe is the meat hot sauce portion size was a little skimpy. So, overall, this was a very good plate. Nicely done. No bad surprises or disappointments. Five stars. Recommended.

It will be interesting to see if Pittsford Hots can survive at a location with less-than-optimal parking.

*While Nick Tahou Hots may be the originator of the Garbage Plate, its meat hot sauce pales in comparison to the Rochester-style meat hot sauces of most of its competitors. Nick’s hot sauce is greasy and bland. The first is not always the best.

Above: Pittsford Hots’ combo plate: A cheeseburger and a Zweigle’s white hot dog over home fries and macaroni salad and topped with Rochester-style meat hot sauce and raw onions
Above: South Main Street, Pittsford, NY. Pittsford Hots is located in the second building (yellow) from the right

Pittsford Hots Website:
https://pittsfordhots.com/

My Polish Deli Haul

The liturgical calendar with its seasonal religious holy days/holidays is the warp and woof of Roman Catholicism. After 27 years of being a Catholic before trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone in 1983, I had had my fill of following the liturgical calendar, but I don’t begrudge my fellow believers who enjoy the seasonal religious holidays. I’m also not a fan of using the word, “Easter,” for the commemoration of Resurrection Sunday since it may possibly have a pagan connection (although the presumed connection to the pagan fertility goddess, Ishtar/Asherah, is not an open-and-shut case as some assume, see here), but it’s not my hill to die on, either.

Anyway, last Thursday, Easter/Resurrection Day was coming up and for any Pole that means getting some “fresh” kielbasa. Many of you are familiar with the delicious smoked variety of Polish sausage/kielbasa, but you may not know about the fresh, unsmoked biała (“white”) version. Growing up, my family always had fresh kielbasa for the holidays. So delicious. But it’s hard to find. Fresh kielbasa was occasionally available at our local big box grocery store, Wegmans’, but I haven’t seen it there in long time. No big loss. Their version of fresh kielbasa isn’t all that good, anyway. The word “pedestrian” comes to mind when thinking about Wegmans’ fresh kielbasa. You see, a Pole is very fussy and discriminating about their fresh kielbasa. Nope, my aim was to drive to the Polska Chata (pronounced pole-skuh ha-tuh, “Polish House”) deli/restaurant in Irondequoit to pick up a couple of pounds of fresh kielbasa because I knew from experience that theirs was excellent.

So, on the Thursday before Easter/Resurrection Day, I first took a trip to the Dybowski Authentic Polish Market (photo above) on Hudson Avenue on the fringes of Rochester’s old Polish Town neighborhood. Dybowski’s has a much larger variety of Polish food items than Polska Chata and I had a few things in mind. The place was busier than downtown Warsaw with Rochester Poles preparing for Easter/Resurrection Day dinner. I bought two cartons of Krakus brand zurek (“sour rye soup”) and two bottles of Vavel (Americanized version of the Polish Wawel) brand black currant juice aka czarna porzeczka nektar. Both zurek and black currant juice are very popular in Poland. Both food items are so delicious. I also couldn’t resist browsing Dybowski’s impressive sausage display. They have about ten different varieties of smoked kielbasa in addition to many other types of Polish-style meats. I ended up buying two large links of cherry wood smoked kielbasa aka kielbasa wisniowa. I also noticed they had two varieties of fresh kielbasa, but I was determined to pick up my biała sausage at Polska Chata.

Above: Polska Chata deli/restaurant

I then got in my car and drove the two miles to Polska Chata and they were packed with customers as well. The deli/restaurant changed hands in 2018, but I was hoping they still offered the fabulous fresh biała kielbasa that the previous owner, Margaret Gorniak, had shipped in from Toronto. No such circumstance. As I stood in the long line, I noticed several customers requesting fresh kielbasa and the owner retrieving frozen…ach…FROZEN fresh kielbasa from the back freezer. Two problems, 1) fresh kielbasa should never be frozen, and 2) the kielbasa looked mediocre, like the stuff Wegmans’ sells’. It certainly wasn’t the sausage imported from Toronto that I bought in previous years.

So I got in my car and drove back to Dybowski’s. I asked the young pana behind the display cases, which of the two fresh biała varieties she recommended. She suggested the big, fat variety produced by the Winding River Meat Company (Bloomfield, NJ, Joe Krzyworzeka, proprietor). The kielbasa actually resembled my previous favorite imported by Margaret G.

I drove home with my Polish stash and a couple of hours later I prepared my fresh biała kielbasa. Unlike smoked kielbasa, you don’t pan fry fresh kielbasa. My mom always boiled it, but I subsequently learned from “old country” Poles that there’s only one way to cook fresh kielbasa and that’s to put it in a pyrex baking dish with about a half-inch of water, cover with aluminum foil, and bake at 350F for 45-60 minutes.

Mój, o, mój! My, oh, my! The fresh biała kielbasa from Winding River was sooooo good. The best I ever had. My wife concurred that it was the best she had ever tasted. Very little fat. Mild. No grizzle. The cherry wood smoked kielbasa wisniowa was also good, but I couldn’t detect the slightly sweet flavor it was claimed to have.

Well, my Polish fresh kielbasa excursion adventure definitely had a happy ending. I’ll be going back to Dybowski’s in a month or two for another Polish fix.

Note: Fresh kielbasa is served with freshly-ground horseradish.

Above: My Polish deli haul: Back row: Krakus zurek sour rye soup and Vavel Black Currant Juice. Front row: fresh biała kielbasa and cherry wood smoked kielbasa wisniowa.
Above: Some of the varieties of smoked kielbasa on display at Dybowski’s
Above: A large variety of food goods imported from Poland line Henry Dybowski’s store shelves

Fading Polish-American Identity

The Blondes of Wisconsin
By Anthony Bukoski
University of Wisconsin Press, 2021, 152 pp.

5 Stars

Like many industrial cities in the Rust Belt, Rochester had its Polish Town neighborhood, which was centered along Hudson Avenue, north of Clifford Avenue. The Polish immigrants of the late-19th and early-20th centuries settled along Hudson Avenue and established churches, businesses, and social clubs where Polish was spoken and the shared ethnicity was the binding currency of the “Polonia” neighborhood. My paternal grandparents lived on Avenue D, just a few houses down from Hudson. Vets returning from World War II, like my Dad, chose to buy houses in new developments in the bordering suburb of Irondequoit rather than live in Polish Town. Second-generation Polish immigrants had a strong desire to assimilate and downplay their ethnicity.

As first-generation Poles died off, their small, cottage-style houses were bought by African Americans who had moved up to Rochester from Sanford, Florida and elsewhere in the South to take advantage of the city’s then-economic opportunities (Kodak, Xerox, etc). Polish businesses and institutions in the Hudson Avenue neighborhood shuttered one after another. Manufacturing has since moved out of Rochester and most of the city’s neighborhoods, including the old Polish Town, became steeped in poverty. There’s still a few hold-out Poles and Polish-owned businesses and institutions remaining in the crumbling and crime-ridden Hudson Avenue neighborhood. I occasionally frequent a Polish deli on the fringes of the old neighborhood.

Anthony Bukoski has written several books of short stories about life in the declining Polonia of Superior, Wisconsin. “The Blondes of Wisconsin” is his latest offering. These are sad and melancholy tales describing characters living amidst the last gasps of fading Polish ethnic identity, just like the few Polish-Americans still living on Hudson Avenue. This is a reminder that all things of this world are fading and are built on foundations of sinking sand. Polish ethnic identity was strongly intertwined with membership in the Roman Catholic church. St. Stanislaus Roman Catholic church is one of the few Polish ethnic landmarks remaining on Hudson Avenue and inside they still preach a false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit.

Above: Boarded up cottage-style houses in nearby Buffalo’s vast former Polonia neighborhood. This style house was also typical in Rochester’s Polonia neighborhood.
Above: A vintage photograph of the former Christ Polish Baptist Church on the corner of Hudson Ave. and Roycroft Drive in Rochester, N.Y., a Gospel light in a thoroughly Polish Catholic neighborhood. The church was built in 1911, however, the small congregation disbanded in 1945 and the building was subsequently demolished.

Car advertising hokum

Car dealerships are going through a very tough time right now because of inventory shortages due to the lack of computer chips at the factories. We have a multi-site dealership here in Rochester, Bob Johnson’s, that started out strictly as a Chevrolet franchise, but has been scarfing up less-solvent local dealerships of various automobile makes.

Bob Johnson Chevy came out with a television advertisement jingle twenty years ago that it’s been running ever since. That’s right, for at least twenty years Rochesterians have had to listen to this jingle, sometimes multiple times during a single half-hour television program:

You’ll get more for your money,
You’ll get much greater value,
You’ll talk to kind, courteous people,
Who really care, they’re so sincere,
I recommend them to my family, recommend them to my friends,
They’ve gone way above and beyond my great expectations,
Bob Johnson Chevrolet,
Bob Johnson Chevrolet,
Bob Johnson Chevrolet.

Every adult Rochesterian can sing that catchy ditty blindfolded. The writer deserves a huge bonus.

What annoys me about this commercial jingle is its claim that Bob Johnson’s employees “really care” and …ach!…that they’re “so sincere.” There’s a degree of “The lady doth protest too much, methinks” in this self-attestation of caring and sincerity. I have no doubt that BJ’s employees treat their customers with a degree of kindness and courtesy. That’s a must in any type of sales and service company. However, Bob Johnson’s employees are also focused on delivering as much profit to the company as possible. If they did otherwise, they would be quickly replaced.

Car dealerships will take advantage of naive and unknowledgeable customers, both in the selling and servicing of cars. Can a car dealership service manager retain his position without being a bit of a flim-flam artist? Methinks not. I don’t believe for a single second that Bob Johnson’s management and employees are above the stereotypical car dealership scams, despite the “we are so sincere” protestations. I believe that Bob Johnson’s knows that we know that, but they’re counting on the advertising hokum rubbing off on us subliminally.

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.” – Romans 3:10

First there was Watergate, now there’s Sheengate!

Time for a pop quiz. You have ten seconds. Name a Roman Catholic cleric besides the pope. Give up? Probably 95% of American non-Catholics would not be able to answer that question. But back in the 1950s and 60s, the majority of Americans knew the name of Fulton J. Sheen. The Catholic archbishop had two television shows, Life is Worth Living (1952-1957) on the DuMont Network and the syndicated The Fulton J. Sheen Program (1961-1968). On both shows, the foppishly-attired Sheen grinningly gave out “advice for living” as he propagated the Roman church’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit. He actually won two Emmy awards for Most Outstanding Television Personality.

Above: Fulton J. Sheen sells Catholicism on his 1950s television show

In the late 1950s, Sheen became entangled in a feud with his boss, cardinal Francis Spellman of New York City. The cardinal bided his time and in 1966 appointed (aka demoted) Sheen to the bishopric of humble Rochester, New York, where I write from. Sheen resigned in 1969 and died ten years later. The RCC fast-tracks famous Catholics for “sainthood” in an attempt to leverage their celebrity. The effort to canonize Sheen began immediately after his death, but was sidetracked by some Catholic internecine squabbling. Both the dioceses of New York City and Peoria, Illinois (under the sponsorship of Sheen’s niece), Sheen’s birthplace, claimed the future saint’s cadaver and the legal tug-of-war dragged on in the courts for five years (2014-2019). Sheen’s remains were eventually awarded to Peoria and canonization appeared imminent. But the Rochester diocese was simultaneously embroiled in its own legal tug-of-war with the survivors of priest sexual abuse and diocesan cover-up. Some of the legal research seemed to implicate former-bishop Sheen in the cover-up. What did Sheen know and when did he know it? In December 2019, Rochester bishop, Salvatore Matano, sent a message to the Vatican advising them to put the brakes on Sheen’s canonization pending clarification of his role in the alleged cover-up/s. It wouldn’t be good public relations for a canonized saint to be subsequently outed as an abuse enabler.

It’s been almost two years and Catholic officials in Peoria are still waiting impatiently for Sheen’s canonization to be given the green light (see article below). Around 300 people per week make the pilgrimage to Peoria to visit Sheen’s crypt seeking his intercession (photo above) and that number would skyrocket if Sheen were declared a saint.

What’s a Christian to make of this? The Bible declares that everyone who accepts Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone is a saint (Greek: hágios, “set apart”). Nowhere in the Bible do we find the Catholic notion of saints being super-holy people. This heterodox notion of super-sanctified people attaining Heaven by their merits is part and parcel of the Catholic salvation system of sacramental grace and merit. Neither in the Bible do we find the Catholic notion of praying to saints as intercessory mediators. That’s an anti-Biblical, blasphemous concept. The RCC’s cavalcade of patron saints is an unabashed plagiarism of pagan Rome’s pantheon of patron gods. See here.

Sheen may or may not be implicated in abuse cover-up. However, two years of silence is a long time, especially given that Sheen’s canonization is certainly at the top of the USCCB’s wish list. But the fact is that hundreds of American Catholic bishops systematically transferred predatory priests from parish to parish, knowingly endangering Catholic children. It was deemed that children were an acceptable sacrifice in maintaining the reputation of the church.

Vatican still silent about why Fulton Sheen sainthood effort delayed

Postscript: Ecumenist Billy Graham was a friend and outspoken admirer of false-gospel promulgator, Fulton J. Sheen.

The Erie Canal, the Rochester Subway, and Stop 22

I’m a bit of a local history buff and have a special interest in the two-hundred-year-old Erie Canal, which runs through our town, and the former Rochester Subway. The recent photo above is a picture of me standing in front of a former trolley waiting station, which has an interesting connection to both the Canal and Subway.

Back when I was a young child in the early-1960s, my father was driving the family through downtown Rochester and I noticed a decrepit little building on the corner of South Avenue and Court Street near the main library. I asked my father what the boarded-up structure was and he answered that it was one of the entrances to the former Rochester Subway. Huh? Rochester had a subway?!?!?! I knew that big metropolitan cities had subways, but little Rochester? That encounter led to a lifelong fascination with the Rochester Subway.

Allow me to fill in a few blanks. The old Erie Canal ran right through downtown Rochester, crossing the Genesee River over an aqueduct. But when New York State officials redesigned and enlarged the canal in 1918, it bypassed the city to the south, leaving behind a 7-mile-long abandoned canal ditch. City fathers got the bright idea of turning the ditch into a trolley route. The two-mile portion that ran through city center was roofed over by Broad Street creating a subway. Tracks were laid, rolling stock was acquired, and the Rochester Subway began operations in 1927. Several interurban commuter trolleys that connected Western New York’s cities and towns, including the Rochester, Syracuse, and Eastern Rapid Railroad (keep that one in mind), made their way into Rochester utilizing the newly-created Subway right-of-way. But trolley travel was already being eclipsed by automobiles and buses. By 1931, all of the interurbans had ceased operations. The Subway struggled on, even providing very valuable service during the World War II rationing years, but ridership was rapidly decreasing (the Subway route was several blocks from the main commercial and government districts) and the last trolley car plied the Subway rails on June 30, 1956. I noticed the abandoned Subway entranceway about six or seven years after that.

The memory of the Rochester Subway stuck with me and I ended up doing a lot of research back in the 70s and 80s. I traversed the abandoned underground tunnel many times with my powerful lantern. I also explored the former route of the Rochester, Syracuse, and Eastern interurban trolley. One day in the late 1970s, I was walking the trolley trail east of Perinton and came upon a former trolley waiting station that was…Ach!…being used as a storage shed. The interurban had built a number of these small waiting booths along its route for rural customers. I was disappointed that a valuable piece of local history was being used as someone’s backyard shed.

Forty years went by and the memory of that waiting station stuck with me. This past week, I was taking a break from house painting and reading a local newspaper. To my surprise was an article (see here) about the restored “Stop 22,” the Rochester, Syracuse, and Eastern waiting station that I had “discovered” forty years ago. I learned that a gentleman named Bill Matthews had been hiking along the same trolley trail and came upon RS&E Stop 22, just as I had. But unlike me, Bill had the resources to purchase and move the waiting station (he was the owner of Matthews House Moving Company). Following restoration, in 1992 Stop 22 was moved to its current site on the south bank of the Erie Canal in the Village of Fairport. It’s currently being used as the “dockmaster” office for canal tour boat excursions.

I just had to visit the old waiting station that I had “discovered” forty years ago. I took a break from house painting and my wife and I made the short drive to Fairport Village along the Canal. Yup, there it was. Stop 22. And in much better condition than I remember it. Nice job, Bill!

*Route 490 East follows the old Erie Canal/Subway right-of-way between the Genesee River and the “Can of Worms” interchange. Several remnants of the Subway and Canal can be viewed along the expressway route including Subway retaining walls and what’s left of Erie Canal Lock 66.

Above: An RS&E waiting station back in the 1920s
Above: A former Rochester, Syracuse, and Eastern power house located on Chestnut Street in East Rochester

Papa Al’s Hot Sauce – It’s back!!!

Back in December 2018, I wrote a post bemoaning the discontinuation of Papa Al’s Hot Sauce, which had been locally-made here in Rochester, New York. See that post here. Boy, I loved Papa Al’s sauce and enjoyed it for forty-years. I’ve periodically thought about the sauce, wishing I could once again drive over to Southtown Beverages in Henrietta, New York to pick up a couple of bottles as I used to, but that ship had sailed for good. Or had it?

A few weeks ago, a fellow-blogger came across my post and inquired if I had ever tried to reproduce the sauce and asked for my recipe. Well, that got the old brain neurons firing. Referencing the list of ingredients from my last bottle of Papa Al’s sauce – ketchup, cayenne pepper sauce, water, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, salt, black pepper, and celery powder – I attempted to recreate the sauce by guessing on the ingredient proportions. The initial result? Hmm. Not bad. But there was touch of sweetness present that the original sauce did not have. I assumed that the sweetness came from the regular ketchup. The next day, I went to the grocery and bought a bottle of Heinz low-sugar ketchup. With this second attempt, I also simmered the sauce for one hour to blend the flavors as per our youngest son’s suggestion. He’s also a Papa Al’s Hot Sauce connoisseur and aficionado and we texted back and forth throughout this re-creation experiment. I put the new batch in the fridge overnight for it to “rest,” and sampled it in the morning. Pretty good. I judged the flavor to be around 85% authentic in comparison to the original. I then tinkered with some of the other ingredients (less vinegar, more celery salt) and the flavor of the third batch was in the proximity of 95% of that of the original. Excellent!!! Without any further ado, I present…

Papa Al’s Hot Sauce Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup low-sugar or non-sugar ketchup
  • 1/2 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce (cayenne pepper sauce)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp. vinegar
  • 1 tsp. celery salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Use a whisk to thoroughly dissolve ketchup. Heat on warm for one hour, stirring occasionally. Do not boil. Put in sealed container and cool overnight. Voilà! An extremely close facsimile of Papa Al’s Hot Sauce. Enjoy!

⚠️ WARNING: This Papa Al’s Hot Sauce facsimile has a good degree of spiciness and heat. Keep out of the reach of children, pets, and those with delicate palates.