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The offbeat side of the news

How now, brown cow?

There were no shades of gray in the story about the long forgotten “brown cow lawsuit” that was featured on the front page of The Buffalo Evening News 100 years ago this week.

The odd, black-and-white case about two sets of folks with the surname Brown battling over eight brown cows was a curiosity all right and, we suspect, a well-read item in its time.

The short article didn’t require any purple prose to gain attention when it appeared in the May 13, 1915, edition of the paper, with an all-caps headline that screamed: “MRS. BROWN SUING BROWNS FOR 8 BROWN COWS AT BROWNHURST.”

“Mrs. S. Anna Davidson Brown, represented by her husband, Millard Fillmore Brown, attorney, is suing Edward Brown and Charles Brown in Part II of Supreme court for the possession of eight brown cows which are now at the Brownhurst Farms, Browns Corners, in the town of Evans,” the story read in part.

“Among the jurors are Hiram T. Brown and Walter L. Brown. Although Justice Brown has been sitting in that court, Justice Wheeler is hearing the case.”

The light-hearted news item – though, probably not so much to the litigants – was equivalent to a modern day “Off Main Street” item. The straight-forward simplicity of the short article leaves us green with envy.

Tanked and released

Getting trapped inside the holding tank of a transport truck sounds like a horrifyingly bad time.

Fortunately, it all ended well for an unidentified truck driver who found himself in that predicament across the border in Fort Erie, Ont., this week. He was rescued after he called his company’s dispatch center from inside the tank, which prompted the dispatcher to call staff at the Flying J Truck Stop, where the vehicle was parked, and ask them to call 9-1-1.

So, how on earth does one find himself locked inside the tank of a fuel transport truck?

Constable Phil Gavin, a spokesman for the Niagara Region Police, told the Fort Erie Times that the driver had climbed inside, and then the tank’s hatch closed down on its own.

Fort Erie Fire Chief Larry Coplen said it was an unusual rescue for the department.

“I don’t know why (the driver) was in there, but it doesn’t sound like there was anything hazardous inside of it,” Coplen told the Times.

Had there been, we suspect it might likely have given the driver pause about descending into the tank in the first place.

Pinch pitcher

It’s not often that Robert M. Bennett has been forced to call in a stunt double, but that is what he chose to do for Friday night’s matchup between the Buffalo Bisons and the Toledo Mud Hens at Coca-Cola Field.

Turns out the chancellor emeritus for the state Board of Regents was selected to throw the opening pitch, but he decided the task was not really in his ballpark.

Since it was going to be a family outing for the Bennett bunch anyway, Bennett drafted his eldest granddaughter, Clare Falkowski, to do the honors instead.

A freshman at Sacred Heart Academy, she also is quite the athlete, according to her grandfather.

“She throws a softball, underhanded, at about 55 miles an hour,” Bennett said. “So I said, ‘Clare, I’m not sure I could reach the catcher, so you’ve got to come out with me.’ ”

Otherwise, Bennett said he might have been forced to fake an injury. A couple of hours before the start of the game, he predicted his stunt double granddaughter would do great in his stead.

“She loves the game. That’s the important thing, and we can’t deflate the ball, either,” Bennett added, in reference to a recent controversy in an entirely different sport and set of circumstances.

Off Main Street is written by Harold McNeil, with contributions from Joseph Popiolkowski and News Correspondent Harry Rosettani. email: