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Forgotten Buffalo Tour: December 5, 2008 - 75th Anniversary of the Repeal of Prohibition
Forgotten Buffalo, a local history group, holds a ceremonial toast at Pristach’s Tavern, 1634 Bailey Ave., to mark the 75th anniversary of the 21st Amendment, repealing Prohibition. Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News
Buffalo tavern tour celebrates end of Prohibition
Tour takes enthusiasts to neighborhood bars on anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition By Harold McNeil, Buffalo News Staff Reporter, 12/6/08
It’s not bar-hopping if it’s done for educational purposes. And education was the goal Friday of a tour of Buffalo’s neighborhood taverns on the city’s far East Side. It was also an opportunity for about 50 local history enthusiasts to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition and join in a ceremonial toast at Pristach’s Tavern on Bailey Avenue and Pullman Street.
"We do this at other times," said Eddy Dobosiewicz who, with his partner, Martin Biniasz, organizes the tours.
"We do an Irish one on St. Patrick’s Day. We do a few [tours] throughout the year, but this one is a real popular one. This one has been sold out for weeks. These people have really been looking forward to celebrating the right to have a drink," Dobosiewicz said.
Prior to bringing their tour to Pristach’s just before 8:30 p.m. Friday, the unassuming tavern with the high tin ceiling was host to just a few regulars, most of them senior citizens. A white-haired regular could be seen almost leaping off her bar stool and dashing quickly away from the crush as the crowd of strangers poured in. Pristach’s wasn’t opened until after Prohibition, Dobosiewicz said.
"But it [reflects what] Forgotten Buffalo is all about, which is taking people to these independently owned bars and taverns that we feel many of them won’t be around five years from now," he said.
"In the last five years, dozens and dozens of places like this have closed for various reasons: Overregulation, the neighborhoods have changed, the industries that supported these businesses changed, transportation, living arrangements have changed," he added.
Brian Reilly, who lives on the city’s West Side, said he was compelled to take the tour to experience a slice of what his parents and grandparents might have experienced years ago when they resided on the city’s East Side and his own family operated a tavern on Sycamore Street. His family left the East Side neighborhood when he was 3 years old.
"I grew up in the suburbs, left town for college and came back this year after being away for 20 years," Reilly said. "I wanted to come [on the tour] because I knew it was close to where I grew up," Reilly said. Dobosiewicz said Forgotten Buffalo was initially started to preserve those memories. "Then we found that if we started taking people to [these establishments], instead of just giving them information about these places, they could actually interact with them," he said.