From barracks to Buicks, recalling life’s adventures with Syd

Ninety-one-year-old Syd Uhl’s New Year’s resolution is to try to improve his memory, but he still was able to recently share dozens of memories from his past nine decades of life.

SALAMANCA — Ninety-one-year-old Syd Uhl of Salamanca said that one of his New Year’s resolutions is to try to improve his memory. But as he recently spoke to this reporter about his life, it was clear that having a good memory isn't much of a problem him.

A Salamanca native, Syd graduated from Salamanca High School in 1945 and then went back for postgraduate study for airplane instruction by Roy Nedelton.

“The planes used to land where the new high school athletic field is,” Syd said.

When the government offered a special incentive, Syd applied for it and wound up in the Army in 1946. These new recruits were sent to relieve those who had been drafted now that the war was over.

Syd was sent to Italy where he played saxophone in the 88th Division Army Band. When the band broke up, he was assigned to work in the motor pool as a driver. He remembered transporting a Jewish Chaplain to Venice.

“The guy fell asleep and I was so afraid that he would fall out of the jeep,” Syd recalled. After they reached their destination, they each went their own ways.

While in Italy, Syd was hospitalized and had his appendix removed. The army gave him rest leave and he traveled north and east of Venice to the Italian Alps. He stayed in the Miramonte Hotel, a well-known ski resort in Cortina, and was able to ski on the ladies' Olympic slope. One day, he and the skiing instructor went skiing on a slope that will be featured in the 2026 Olympics in Cortina.

Syd was then assigned as a guard in the town of Piza where te government was relocating a laundry facility. Shortly afterward, Syd came home on a carrier called General Muir.

Back home in Salamanca, Syd married Diane Banton, daughter of Flossie and Milo Banton. In July of 1953, Syd and Diane and Syd's father, Bil,l went into partnership to form Uhl Buick, Inc. and purchased a property at 33-35 Main St. at the corner of Sycamore Avenue that had belonged to E. S. Brown & Co.

“They used to call him ‘Bunny,’” Syd remembered. “We bought all three floors.”

Syd ran Uhl Buick, Inc. for 26 years and still remains faithful to Buick automobiles.

“I just got a different one yesterday,” he said.

Retirement in 1979 did not slow Syd down. He worked as a carpenter's helper for Loydd Blackwell, building seven different homes in the Bradford, Pa. area.

He then worked for Cattaraugus County at the Marina at Onoville and as a salesman for Cubic Storage Co.

Syd and Diane Uhl raised three children: a son, Lawrence O. Uhl; a daughter, Ellen (Tom) Fenton; and a daughter, Pamela Caldwell.

There are now three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, including one set of twins and another set of twins due in May.

Syd and Diane had many travel adventures with their family, in a houseboat at Onoville and in a Travel Camper that slept five.

“We had a really good time with that camper in Florida,” Syd said.

After Diane's death, Syd moved into smaller accommodations at Hillview Manor. Still in excellent health, he enjoys visiting with his new neighbors and spending time with his family.

Naturally, he enjoys his Buick automobile.