The offbeat side of the news - The Buffalo News

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The offbeat side of the news

Jazz-playing judge

He’s a no-nonsense guy on the bench, so it comes as a bit of a surprise to some people when they find out that State Supreme Court Justice Frederick J. Marshall is a swinging jazz trombone player.

The judge strutted his stuff during a Wednesday appearance with jazz players from the Buffalo Colored Musicians Club. Marshall played several impressive solos with the band, which performed at the county courthouse during a ceremony honoring the 50-year anniversary of the U.S. Civil Rights Act.

Among those who enjoyed the jazz was Darius G. Pridgen, Buffalo Common Council president and pastor of True Bethel Church. Pridgen, keynote speaker at the event, noticed that the 62-year-old Marshall was the only white guy in the band.

“He actually adds color to the band,” Pridgen quipped.

Buffalo’s Cobb connection

Speaking of Pridgen, a colleague recently noticed a curious document in the glass showcase outside the Common Council president’s 13th-floor office in City Hall.

Admittedly, our colleague was years late in his observation, but we would guess that not many on the way to Common Council Chambers took time to notice that the city has in its possession a copy of the marriage license of major league baseball great Ty Cobb.

Curious, huh?

Well, it turns out that man known as the Georgia Peach during his heyday in the early 20th century had a Buffalo connection.

In 1949, Cobb married Buffalo native Frances Fairbarien Cass, a divorcée. It also was Cobb’s second marriage, though the two eventually divorced in 1956.

A call to the City Clerk’s Office could not determine exactly how long the document has been on display, but an employee of the Division of Vital Statistics surmised that it has been at least since 2000.

“That’s when I started here, and it has been on display all that time,” she said.

Warming up to cool

It seems that we just can’t stop talking about the weather this season.

No surprise, that. So here is an update from Off Main Street’s unofficial weather wanderer.

Since he last took a measure of the wintry whipping we took only a week ago, there continues to be no shortage of commentary on the local weather front.

Sitting on a bench outside Hamburg Town Hall on Friday morning, he observed two older gentlemen were discussing how unseasonably “warm” it felt outside as they basked in the unfettered sunshine.

But as the chat progressed, it began to dawn on them just how strange, perhaps pathetic, it was that they were talking proud and gleeful about temperatures that were still only in the mid-20s.

Brrrrrr. Well, at least it wasn’t in the single digits or worse.

Sun tan lotion, anyone?

A clarification

A few weeks ago, Off Main Street ran an item about Adam G. Frankenstein of Buffalo after his arrest by state troopers on drug possession charges.

The gist of the item was about a news release that The News received from state police that appeared to be making sport of Frankenstein’s last name in connection with that arrest.

Needless to say, Frankenstein was not happy about the exposure he received here Jan. 24 and requested that we set the record straight regarding the disposition of the charges against him now that his case has been adjudicated.

According to the city’s Criminal Records Division, Frankenstein’s case was heard Feb. 28 before City Judge Kevin J. Keane, and the more serious charges against Frankenstein were dropped.

We wanted to restore Frankenstein’s good name, and hope we have done that.

Off Main Street is written by Harold McNeil with contributions from Dan Herbeck and Lou Michel. email:

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