Vacation Day 3: Elbert Hubbard and Beef on Weck

The dining room at the Elbert Hubbard museum.

Today wound up being all Roycrofters and East Aurora, New York. Frank Lloyd Wright was supposed to be in the mix, but Diamondqueen decided we’d do East Aurora first since it was a little farther out, then pick up the Wright house on our way back to Niagara Falls. However, we wound up running out of time and energy. I feel bad about it, but she didn’t seem to mind, and to my pleasure she really enjoyed our Roycrofters experience.

It was a fine day, bright and just warm enough. The drive to East Aurora was easy, which was a good thing–we overslept until 9:30 and made it down to the dining room with just 45 minutes left for the breakfast buffet.

Arts and crafts style makes me swoon, so I was in my glory as we looked around the shop they have set up in the old copper house on the Roycroft campus. We did get to see a bit of the Inn across the street because that was the only bathroom. Even that glimpse showed a stunning building.

I resisted the urge to spend money I don’t have by picking out a rabbit-themed tile for Diamondqueen to save for me for Christmas. I was very tempted by the matte-finished tiles in teals and earthy greens, especially the frogs and dragonflies, but even a tile just a few inches big cost more than I could justify (although not a bad price overall; I simply had a very expensive May with glasses, car repairs, and medicines).

Next door was a large green building that had served as a bindery. J.Hooligan took one step up the stairs and said, “This building doesn’t seem very sound.” We sent him and his iPod Touch to sit at a table outside. Soon S.Hooligan joined him.

I thought maybe there was a gallery of old furniture and hammered copper in the building, but there was a small antique shop in one room, another gift shop in the other first floor room, and an art gallery upstairs. We realized the Elbert Hubbard Museum was nearby, so we gathered up the Hooligans and drove down the quaint residential street to the arts and crafts-style house that serves as the museum.

J.Hooligan headed to the backyard with his iPod, but S. came in for the tour with Diamondqueen and me. She got a little restless but managed not to be too distracting as we heard the story of the house, the leather-crafter and his wife who had lived there,and Elbert Hubbard and his eccentricities, and admired the authentic Roycroft creations throughout the house, including many samples of the original owner’s leather artistry. My favorite was the dining room, with the original Roycroft dining set and the walls heavily adorned with chestnut woodwork.

The tour guide at the museum told us we HAD to see Vidler’s 5 & 10, so we drove to Main Street, attempting to explain to the kids the old-time concept of the five and ten cent store. Vidler’s is about four times bigger than any five-and-dime I experienced as a kid and seemed to have a little bit of everything.

It had been a long time since breakfast, so we went back across the street to a small candy and ice cream shop Diamondqueen had noticed near where we parked. The malts we got weren’t great but they kept us going. J. turned down the delicious-looking confectionary choices (even chocolate buffaloes, large sizes and minis), but in the end we traipsed back to Vidler’s for the bathrooms and for candy selections from their generous counters.

Diamondqueen and I crashed when we returned to the room and the kids went about their business. Around six we started talking about dinner. Pickings are slim in downtown Niagara Falls, NY, unless you really, really love Indian food. I nosed around on the Internet and was reminded of a local place called Honey’s I’d read about before. Around seven we piled into the van and headed for the eatery.

Honey's beef on weck.

The only regional dish I really wanted to try was beef on weck; I’m not that crazy about Buffalo wings, so getting the real thing locally didn’t excite me that much. Honey’s turned out to be the perfect spot, a noisy sports-bar type place that’s also kid-friendly. Diamondqueen and I got beef on weck with fries; I also chose a Guinness Black Lager, which has replaced stout as my favorite. It was all delicious and hit a very specific spot.

Back at the hotel S.Hooligan and I hit the pool for a late swim. Tomorrow we’re heading back into Canada for more adventures.

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