So cold, my eyelids felt frozen open…
We stood arm in arm on Goat Island, with wind whipping our faces, looking down in awe at the ice bridge spanning the Niagara River at the base of the American Falls. It was shaped much like the one that Burrell Hecock ventured onto back in 1912. And just as unstable! I couldn’t help imagining the terror Burrell experienced that fatal day. My husband and I were in Niagara Falls, NY, the weekend of January 26th, for a book signing and presentation with the New York State Parks Department. What luck to experience an ice bridge in person, reinforcing the fact that Nature is a terrible force.
Caught the sun setting on Canada
The lower deck of Goat Island was roped off because it was encased in several feet of ice, which if you stepped on would send you sliding right over the brink of the Horseshoe Falls. The brilliance of the setting sun silhouetted the high rises of Niagara Falls, Ontario; the high rises prevent the mist from being blown away and hinders a clear view of the falls but can create some beautiful photos.
We happened upon a handsome young photographer, Tai-Hsiang Chiu, who graciously agreed to send me a few shots. All I had was an iPhone which is no match for a digital SLR. His shot knocked my socks off.
This local gem started out as an old bakery-turned-bar lounge. After expanding into another building, the restaurant was born; juicy steak, luscious seafood, ribs and a great variety of fare, in a cozy atmosphere, surrounded by large stained glass dividers, candle light and hurricane lamps. They gave us a quiet table in a section all our own. The owner, Kevin Young, personally ensured that our visit was exquisite.
We set up at the Niagara Falls Public Library
While Carol Rogers of the NY State Parks prepared the library’s auditorium for her presentation on the 80th Anniversary of the Collapse of the Honeymoon Bridge, I laid out my books, posters, lapel pins and book marks in the outer room ready for the expected crowd. By 10:00, there was a line formed, with curious history buffs all with one thing in common… their love of Niagara Falls. Sales went very well, and the free posters and book marks were quite popular. I’m so grateful to Carol for inviting me to present my books to this crowd.
And the winner of my free drawing – 4 signed books, posters, pins and bookmarks – Lloyd Draper! He was actually a live witness of the collapse of the Honeymoon bridge in 1938. He was just a child, but was standing right at the end of it when it went down.
The Town Cryer appeared
We were graced with the presence of the Official Town Cryer of Niagara Falls, Ontario – Mr. Patrick Sirianni. (He had left his uniform at home, but he contributed some stories and interesting facts to the Honeymoon Bridge presentation.) Patrick has been a great help to me with his knowledge and research of the time period, the area and photos when I was writing the Hecock graphic novels.
Pizza and the Queen’s Guard
When evening came, we crossed the border to Chippewa to have pizza and wings with Dan Hill, his cousin Kip Finn, and Pat Sirianni at Dan’s favorite local hangout, the Queen’s Guard. There I presented the guys with my first comic strip, Being Red. The source for the strip is Dan Hill himself and the hundreds of news articles written about Dan’s grandfather, Red Hill Sr. He was the local Riverman, and he saved Burrell Hecock’s best friend from the ice bridge back in 1912. We got an invite to return in the summer and hang at Dan’s private dock, knock down a few beers and root through all his photos and articles about Red. Of course, I’ll be having chocolate milk.