My younger brother David is a Franciscan priest and is now a resident scholar at St. Bonaventure University in western New York State. We had never visited the school before but last weekend had our first opportunity. Son Don, who lives in Lewes, kindly drove us there and back, a round trip of nearly 800 miles.


My younger brother David is a Franciscan priest and is now a resident scholar at St. Bonaventure University in western New York State. We had never visited the school before but last weekend had our first opportunity. Son Don, who lives in Lewes, kindly drove us there and back, a round trip of nearly 800 miles.

David is leaving next month for a three-week trip to Australia where he has been invited to speak. This time in August was a quiet time at the university and fit in well with his schedule and ours.

It was a busy and very pleasant visit.

St. Bonaventure is located near the small city of Olean in the southwestern corner of the state and, while certainly out of the way, is reached on excellent roads. We had good directions backed up by Don’s Tom Tom GPS system, amazing for its detailed accuracy.

St. Bonaventure opened in 1858 and has about 2,400 undergraduate and graduate students. Its campus includes 500 acres and is on the Alleghany River.

A highlight of our visit was a chance to meet and talk with Sister Margaret Carney, who is the dynamic president of the school. While St. Bonaventure was in rocky financial condition in the mid 1990s, it is doing well now and has plans for expansion along with a growing endowment.

I like the school’s motto: “Becoming Extraordinary.”

Also impressive, and especially interesting to me, is the fact that five alumni have won Pulitzer Prizes.

That’s the background. So what did we do?

We did manage to eat often, it seemed, and not only at the Friary, where David and some other university personnel live.

On a side visit to Niagara Falls, about 70 miles north, we stopped at a small restaurant which had an “Open” sign even though it didn’t look like it was.

It should have stayed closed until the “New Management” really became used to what a restaurant does.

Sandwiches, which seemed the safest items to order, came to $17.36. I gave the cashier and waitress a $20 dollar bill and 36 cents in change, figuring to make the transaction simpler. She took the money, rang up the sale, and then used a hand calculator to figure out that the change came to $3 even.

At least the stop gave us something to talk about. We also kidded David for selecting the restaurant.

Since it was a very pleasant day, and a Saturday, the area around Niagara Falls was packed with people. Because we had come so far and it was our first visit to “the oldest state park in America,” we persevered and did get to look at the falls, along with thousands of other people.

On the way back the stop was at a restaurant the direct opposite of the earlier experience. It was in Ellicottville, a very pretty small town with interesting shops along its main street. One store catered to the skiers who come to the area.

The highlight for having a meal, though, was at Sprague’s Maple Farms in Portville, another small town eight miles from the university. Perhaps 25 people were in line to get into the restaurant when we arrived but the huge dining room quickly accommodated them and us and we had great and inexpensive meals.

*****

Stopping at different places gave me the opportunity to look over a variety of newspapers, some small ones which looked as if they were having trouble surviving as well as the daily Buffalo News, which seems to be doing well.

Buying a copy of the New York Post, also available in Delaware, turned up the information that the Federal Aviation Administration had recently approved a 100-foot high trash facility not far from a La Guardia Airport runway.

But the NYP begins is story in its usual colorful language:

“Their gooses should be cooked!’

Birdbrained federal bigwigs quietly shrunk the safety zone around a high-traffic La Guaradia Airport runway to make way for a massive trash facility – a bird magnet that will put airliners on a crash course with engine-clogging fowl, the Post has learned.”

The story goes on to cite the fact that Canada geese were blamed for killing the engines on the plane that had to land in the Hudson River in 2009.

And the story brought to my mind the great concern of Dover Air Force Base a few years back when a trash facility which might have attracted Canada geese was set to open too close to the base. Fortunately that danger was averted, but only after a struggle.

*****

Retired USAF Brig. Gen. Dick Bundy of Dover leaves no doubt about where he stands as talk about reducing the federal budget includes mention of cutting military pay and changing the retirement program.

In a blog widely circulated, Bundy says:

“If the Administration and Congress agree that these cuts in military personnel, pay and retirement benefits need to be made to help address the national budget crisis, then it is time for them to lead from the front.

“The president, the Cabinet, the Congress and the entire federal government staff should take the same pay cut and reduce the size of their staffs. If the entire Executive Branch, federal government and Congress take the same cut, then I think all military active duty, Guard, Reserve and retired would salute smartly and take their place as part of the solution.”

But if that doesn’t happen, Bundy says, “then don’t ask our military forces to do once again that which our political leaders choose not to do, or else there should be hell to pay.”

*****

A young man applied for a job, bringing with him glowing references from his minister and a dozen church elders.

The prospective employer nodded with pleasure at the written statements, but said, “These are very nice. But could you also get one from somebody who knows you on weekdays?”