Tifft Nature Park is a 264-acre preserve located in Buffalo’s Lackawant area neighbourhood (north of Buffalo). In the 1950s and 1960s, all that was left were a few tiny ponds and a few train tracks.
This is where Ruben Santiago-Hudson may be found fishing if you enjoy the Broadway production of “Lackawant to Blues.” He frequently speaks affectionately of his time there throughout his autobiographical presentation.
Tour the Old Steel Town at the Center of ‘Lackawanna Blues’
At 32 Wasson Avenue, the scene of the Santiago play Hudson’s, his landlady Ms. Rachel Crosby, also known as “Nanny,” raised him. The one-man, autobiographical presentation lasts 90 minutes and features at least 25 locals (all artfully played by Santiago-Hudson in various postures, accents and cadences).
One of the lost souls, small-time con artists, and philosophers waxing poetic was Ol’ Po’ Carl, a would-be chef and former baseball player.
During a play rehearsal in the middle of August, Santiago-Hudson recalled a conversation the two had about fishing. Santiago-Hudson was given the nickname “doc” by Old Po Carl because there was always a chance that he would become a doctor.
He would then approach me and call out, “Hey, doctor! You ragged-headed rogue with a frizzy head. This weekend, are you going fishing? I’d answer, “Yeah, I might go fishing.” Use the term “going fishing” instead of “fishing.”
He would tell them, “You better get out there before they catch up all the fish.” He might be right, they got all the fish, I’d imagine. — I had just turned eleven. As I got older, “How are you going to catch all the fish?” was something I wondered.
Recently, Buffalo-based photographer Malik Rainey visited Lackawant to capture the area at dusk. Photos from the 1950s and 1960s, such as those of Santiago-Hudson as a little child and Nanny and her husband, Bill, show both the past and present of a place.
Song Lyrics for “Lackawant to Blues”
The 2020 census found 19,949 people living in Lackawant to. When the movie “Lackawant to Blues” is set, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Bethlehem Steel was a significant employer in Lackawant.
In 1983, the steel mill went out of business. Wind turbines are presently in operation where steel was once produced. Thanks for reading our article Tour the Old Steel Town at the Center of ‘Lackawanna Blues’.