My Story of The 2000 Buffalo Snowstorm and 10-Year-Old Me at The Owl Lounge Bar
I'm going to admit that this story is pretty random. After all, we're talking about a snowstorm over 20 years ago in Buffalo and it's April of 2021. However, I got the inspiration to share this because of the snow we got in Western New York on Thursday on April Fool's Day and recent talk of past bars in Buffalo.
Flashback to November 20th of 2000 in Western New York. It was a Monday and just a few days away from Thanksgiving. I was in my first year at Infant of Prague elementary and middle school off the 90 in Cheektowaga, after going to a public school up to that point.
If you remember that day (chances you do), then you know before the October Surprise Storm in 2006, there was the November 2000 snowstorm in Buffalo.
This lake effect snowstorm was rare, even by Buffalo standards. It dropped nearly 25 inches of snow from early afternoon to 9 p.m. The result was stranded motorists everywhere in Buffalo and nearby suburbs, including myself.
Back then I commuted to school and back home on a smaller bus (I lived in Amherst at the time). It was just me, and another middle-schooler that went to JFK in Cheektowaga.
Long story short, it was pretty clear that we weren't going to make it back to our homes. The weather was not bad enough for the bus to pick the other student and I up, but by the time we got to Harlem Rd. in Cheektowaga, the weather was so bad we were stuck...directly in front of the old bar called, The Owl Lounge.
It was a pretty interesting spot to be stranded in. The bus we were on became our beds that night and we made friends with fellow motorists stranded around us. However, when the time came to get something to drink and use the bathroom (10-year-olds use it often), we had to go into The Owl Lounge.
My memory isn't too clear when it comes to the interior of the Owl Lounge, but I do know 10-year-olds weren't really allowed in there. It was also fairly small, I know that. My bus driver told me to use their bathroom and I'll never forget walking in there and looking at a packed bar staring me down as I went to use the bathroom.
There was also an NFL game on the television in there: Washington at St. Louis on Monday Night Football. Washington won, in case you're wondering.
After using the bathroom the first time, I went back to the bus but soon enough I had to go again and this time I asked for water. The bartender gave me some and those inside the bar talked with my bus driver about everything from the snowstorm, when we would leave and the Buffalo Bills.
People have asked me before, "what was the first bar you ever went into?" I usually say a bar when I was 21 (maybe younger but I'll leave that for another day) but it was actually as a 10-year-old during the November 2000 snowstorm.
The next morning some nice people bought everyone lunch meat and bread for breakfast and a new driver weaved his way through the stranded cars to get me and the other kid home.
My parents were pretty shocked to learn their little kid spent much of his time at a dive bar during his first huge Buffalo snowstorm, but are you really from Buffalo if you don't have a story like that?
The Owl Lounge has been gone for about 15 years but I will never forget that storm, that night or that bar.