BUFFALO - Visitors who stop at the Buffalo Welcome Center in the former town bank will find the usual friendly greetings, mementos and information on local sites and history, including a scrapbook of the 1950s robbery at the facility.
They also can get a personal account of that heist from the center's only paid staff member, Millie Stover. Now 70, she was one of two 11-year-old schoolgirls sent by their teacher on an errand to the bank just as the robbery occurred.
"Boy, did we step into it," Stover recalled.
She and the other student, Susie Hill Tucker, wife of former Buffalo Mayor Kenneth Tucker, were unharmed although the school principal was initially angry over their delayed return, Stover said.
Obviously he learned they had a good excuse.
The robbers were caught a few hours later.
The bank, built in 1932 and operated for three decades, was renovated and dedicated in 2008 as a welcome center by what is now the River to Ridges Heritage Trail non-profit coalition.
But efforts to operate the center with volunteers didn't meet with much success, project coordinator Lowell Wilks said in an email. He turned to a federal program that funds part-time positions for senior citizens and hired Stover.
She started working in late June. And then the volunteers came.
Daisy Thornton, 86, long time Buffalo Senior Center director now retired, comes almost daily with her outgoing personality, enthusiasm and her craftwork.
"That table was full," Stover said in mid-July, indicating the craft table at the back of the center. "I've sold it all,"
By August, Thornton had replenished the display.
"She makes stuff all the time," Stover said. "Daisy helps me a lot."
So does Ronnie Harris, 74, who helps with displays, fills in for Stover at times and generally is a "jack of all trades," she said.