In this town, it’s the time of ye to gather fish fry memories

The Buffalo News - - WEATHER -

My wife and I met al­most 40 years ago. She was from greater Rochester. I was liv­ing in Dunkirk, in a house my par­ents rented. We both at­tended SUNY Fre­do­nia, at a time when it was not so typ­i­cal for stu­dents who lived on cam­pus to date stu­dents who lived nearby, a nice way of de­scrib­ing a clas­sic col­lege town di­vide. There was a nat­u­ral gap be­tween the kids in the dorms and those of us who were self-de­scribed “town­ies.” They ate at din­ing halls and built their lives around the cam­pus. We drove, walked or hitched to school and then left it at day’s end. They had friends within their uni­verse and we had friends in ours, and sometimes it all seemed gal­ax­ies apart.

Yet a beer-bat­tered bridge soon opened be­tween those worlds, one that my wife and I still join many of you in hon­or­ing, dur­ing Lent and all year long.

Not long af­ter we met by chance at a pic­nic, dur­ing those early con­ver­sa­tions when you talk about ev­ery­thing and any­thing, I learned from this young woman by the name of Nora But­ler – raised in some far­away place called Iron­d­e­quoit – how a mem­o­rable part of her child­hood, near Rochester, was go­ing out for fish on Friday.

Boom. There it was, a point of instant com­mu­nion in ev­ery way that mat­tered. In Dunkirk, as in Buf­falo or in West Seneca or in Cheek­towaga – re­ally, as in vir­tu­ally ev­ery neigh­bor­hood in Western New York – if some­one says, “You want to get fish tonight?” you know ex­actly what it means.

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