August 1998

Ed Rudnicki


by Joseph H. RADDER

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Ed Rudnicki’s work is a labor of love. For nearly 60 years Rudnicki has pounded, shaped, forged and welded special fittings, hooks, chains and tool points in his Buffalo blacksmith shop at 120 South Park Avenue. Passerbys may do a double-take upon seeing this blacksmith still toiling at his trade.

“I don’t like sitting around,” says Rudnicki, who is 80 years young. “My wife, Cecilia, likes me out of the house,” he chuckled. Rudnicki works five days a week stoking the fires and shaping metal in the same smithy he’s been at since 1951. He makes picks, crow bars, shepherd’s crooks, boot scrapers, dinner triangles, hearts for scented candles and other one-of-a-kind items.

His most unusual request happened about 30 years ago. “A fellow came in and asked if I would make a chain for his boat,” he recalled. Upon asking to see the boat, the gentleman told Rudnicki his boat was “right outside.” Rudnicki left his shop with the man who promptly pointed to an ocean freighter in the harbor. “I made a chain 532 feet long,” laughed Rudnicki. “I worked a good week making a chain for his boat.”

Rudnicki forged his early career in the blacksmith shops at Curtis Aircraft during World War II and later at Ford. His work has included making heavy-lifting fittings that have been used in some of the slings that have lifted rocket casings for the space program. Thousands of specialized parts for auto plant assembly lines have been created at Rudnicki’s shop.

Over the years, Rudnicki has enjoyed sharing his love for smithing with his four children and nine grandchildren. Recently his 17 year-old granddaughter went to the shop. “She had never used a hacksaw before,” he said. By the time his granddaughter left she had been taught how to weld. “It was amazing how well she did,” said Rudnicki proudly.

Truly, this man of yesteryear has forged his path to being forever young and active.

Joseph H. Radder is a freelance writer.

 

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