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The offbeat side of the news

Driven to help others

Should Darnell J. Barton wear a big Superman cape as he drives his Metro Bus around Buffalo?

Last October, the 37-year-old bus driver made headlines across the country when he stopped to rescue a woman who was about to jump off an overpass onto the busy Scajaquada Expressway.

We’ve just found out that Barton took part in another rescue Jan. 25, after city resident Elizabeth Taylor slipped on an icy manhole cover, fell and broke her leg while crossing South Division Street in downtown Buffalo. It was a very bad break, just under her right hip, and Elizabeth Taylor – yes, that’s her real name – was lying helpless on the street.

“I couldn’t get up. I was just lying there, waving my hands, hoping somebody would help me before I got run over by a car,” said Taylor, 60. “Two young women came by to help me. Then a big Metro Bus pulled up, and the driver blocked off the traffic lanes, so I would be safe. The driver got out of his bus to help. He was this huge man ... He looked familiar to me.”

She later checked on the driver’s identity and confirmed he was Barton. She said he stayed by her side and made sure no cars drove near her until rescuers arrived from the nearby Engine 1 firehouse.

“It’s one of those Buffalo stories,” Taylor said. “I want to thank those women who stopped to help me, the firefighters and the bus driver. All good people ... and I had a celebrity rescuer!”

Sandra Cammarata, a close friend of Taylor’s, had this to say about Barton: “I think that man was put on this earth to save people.”

Door-to-door rescuer

Saving folks also might be the role for Kevin Stocker, at least when he’s running for office.

Eighteen months ago, as the Town of Tonawanda attorney campaigned door to door in a Republican primary for State Senate, he got help for a woman in Hamburg who appeared to be suffering from heat stroke when she answered her door.

Two weeks ago, a hardy Stocker was out knocking on doors again, for a rematch against State Sen. Mark Grisanti. This time, it was on a day when the temperature was in the single digits, with a bitter wind chill.

On Bunting Road in Orchard Park, Stocker said, he found two small dogs shivering on their owner’s front porch.

“I’ve never seen two dogs more happy to see me,” he told us. “They were ready to fall over, they were shivering so hard.”

Stocker rang the doorbell a dozen times to no avail, then dug up a phone number for the address, called the homeowner and told her that he was outside her door with her dogs.

“She said, ‘Oh my God, I forgot they were outside,’ ” Stocker said.

We can’t wait for the next installment in the Amazing Adventures of the Good Samaritan Political Candidate, wherein Stocker saves 20 kindergartners from a fire and then climbs up a tree to rescue a kitten.

He’s so shy

Buffalo businessman Carl P. Paladino always, always, always seems to be in the news these days, whether he is voicing opinions for one of the national cable TV shows, raising havoc at Buffalo Board of Education meetings, stirring things up in the governor’s race or getting involved in big business deals.

That’s why one of our veteran reporters burst out laughing at one of the remarks Paladino made during a telephone interview this week.

“I try to keep a low profile,” Paladino quipped.

Altered state

In Niagara Falls on Wednesday, the state of the city was cold, snowy and blustery. That is, too inclement for Mayor Paul Dyster to deliver his annual State of the City address.

Anticipating that it was going to be difficult attracting a crowd to hear his assessment of the city’s achievements and challenges going forward, the mayor on Tuesday announced that he was postponing his address – for the second time this season – until 6 p.m. Feb. 26.

If the weather cooperates this time, the event is sure to be a hot ticket.

Off Main Street is written by Harold McNeil with contributions from Dan Herbeck and Stephen T. Watson. email:

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