Today we turn our attention to one of the most iconic businesses in Greece. We want to thank Jo Ann Ward Snyder and Bonnie Stemen Fiser for their collaboration on this Snapshot. Jo Ann is preparing a profile of the Buckman family for Volume II of Pioneer Families of the Town of Greece. This is just a small expert from the full profile of the Buckman’s not all photos from the profile are in this post you will have to wait for the book to come out.
Buckman’s Dairy, 1950s, from GHS, courtesy of Ralph DeStefano
Many Grecians have sweet memories (pun intended) of Buckman’s Dairy.
Homer Buckman was born in 1889, …
… the eldest child of George Buckman and Lucy Griffin. In this photo, Homer is on the far right.
In 1906 he married Alice Mitchell, daughter of Greece pioneers Thomas and Alice Corby Mitchell. The couple had one daughter Emeroy.
In 1911 Homer Buckman founded his dairy with a dozen cows. It was located on the farm his father purchased from the estate of Erastus and Sarah Walker at the northwest corner of what is today, Ridge and Long Pond Roads. Homer was able to buy the land from his father in 1915.
Homer delivered his milk in a horse-drawn wagon three seasons of the year, and used a horse-drawn sleigh in the winter. In the background of this photo is his home, located on Ridge Road adjacent to the Dairy.
Eventually, deliveries were made by Model T Ford and a Reo Truck. Homer constructed a plant to pasteurize the milk and eliminated the competition by buying out the only other dairy in Greece. To meet customer demand Homer began buying raw milk from other local farmers
as well as importing it via railroad; he’d pick up the milk churns like this one on the left arriving at the Hojack railroad station in North Greece, transporting it to his pasteurization plant to ready it for delivery. By 1931, the dairy was bottling 300 quarts of milk a day.
In the late 1920s, Homer remodeled the old barn and opened a small cash and carry store with milk, cream, and in season, ice cream. In 1931 he sold the business to Robert Peters, although he still owned all the property, lived on-site in his home, and helped out in the store.
In 1950 Ralph P. DeStephano, the owner of Bonnybrook Dairy on Lyell Avenue bought both the business and the property. He consolidated the milk processing operations on Ridge Road.
Homer even continued to work in the store for a while. He died in 1972 at the age of 88. He was a Member of Greece Methodist Church on Maiden Lane, and a Member of the Greece Grange.
In 1966, DeStephano described to a reporter the history of the building: “The hayloft at the top of the barn is now three offices, mine and two others. The main floor where the hay was carried in is the main store. The ridge drops about 20 feet and cows came into the barn from a ramp in the back. They used the pasture out there. In the basement where the cattle were fed, is our ice cream room.”
Circa 1976, the shop was renovated, and an old-fashioned ice cream parlor was added. The name changed to Buckman’s Ice Cream Village. Donuts had been sold at the shop beginning in the late 1950s, now snack items and soup and sandwiches were on the menu, and of course, ice cream. Twenty-five flavors!
They had fun inventing ice cream delights such as “the “Kitchen Sink” which had 8 scoops of ice cream (2 scoops each of vanilla, banana, chocolate, and strawberry), 4 bananas, 4 toppings, 8 shots of whip cream and 8 cherries. If you ate it all, you would get a free sundae certificate.”
DeStephano was also a community activist and was “instrumental in bringing ambulance services, a Rotary Club, a Chamber of Commerce, and Park Ridge Hospital to Greece.” It was Ralph DeStephano and Ray DeMay that started Greece Volunteer Ambulance. Greece Volunteer Ambulance Corps. (GVAC), which has since been disbanded in the last few years due to the four fire companies changing providers to Monroe Ambulance and the rising cost of Emergency services which the volunteer corp could not afford anymore.
The sign here on the left is from the Holiday Inn a few years before the tragic Holiday Inn Fire of 1978 which took the lives of ten people who were staying at that hotel.
You can learn more about Park Ave to Park Ridge from the May 2021 program that was recorded from Zoom and can be viewed by clicking the link below.
Ralph DeStephano sold the business to his son also named Ralph DeStephano Jr, in 1987.
Buckman Enterprise also included a laundry
and a car wash.
Those were the days in 1981—six car washes for $15.00!
During the 1980s through the mid-2000s the dairy, ice cream, and donut businesses were leased to several different operators. It closed in 2006.
The DeStephano family continues to own the property and today there are a variety of businesses in Buckman’s plaza.
Walgreens took a long-term lease to erect a drugstore on the site of the old dairy and barn, torn down in 2009; the pharmacy closed in 2018. Today the former Homer Buckman dairy is the site of Orville’s Home Appliances.
More on Homer Buckman and his family will be printed in the upcoming release of The Pioneer Families of Greece, New York Volume 2 coming later this year.
Also, you can view the program titled Buckman's Dairy and Bakery History, that Ralph Destephano put on that was recorded on July 16, 2017
and check out this article that Alan Mueller, wrote for the newsletter in 2014 called Homer J. Buckman - Sold Milk, Cream, and Lollipops!!!
Thank you for joining us today; next week we say our farewells.