Sean Kirst - The Buffalo News

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Sean Kirst

Sean Kirst is a columnist for The Buffalo News. Raised in Dunkirk, he has been an Upstate journalist for more than 40 years.


Local News

George Arthur was thinking Thursday about a police officer he knew as a kid, an officer everyone called "Red the Peanut Man." Arthur described him as a classic beat cop. He was stationed out of Buffalo's old Precinct Four, and he would walk every day – in rain, sun or snow – along what was the commercial heart of William Street. "Everyone knew Red," Arthur said. It turn…

Bills

A group of Buffalo Bills are getting a lot of attention for pushing out many motorists Sunday who were jammed up in the snow, and Ruth Mendofik said it's absolutely justified. She was one of the drivers they helped. Mendofik's car became stuck as she tried to leave Ilio DiPaolo's Restaurant in Blasdell with her 73-year-old father and her 12-year-old twin boys. It was th…

Bills

Peggy Manning, a manager at Ilio DiPaolo's Restaurant in Blasdell, worked a long day Sunday. She arrived around 10 a.m., and parked her Chevy Cruze not far from the front door. It was the holiday season, which always means more customers, and people showed up for several celebrations and parties despite a big snowstorm. Many of them kept asking about the score in a Buff…

Columns

Elizabeth Marie Ortiz Olivencia pushed back the shades of the living room window a few days ago in her Black Rock neighborhood. A coating of snow, not even an inch of it, covered Rano Street and the small front yard of her home. It was nothing to most of us, a December dusting, but to Elizabeth it was miraculous, a revelation. It was the first time in her life that she …

Columns

Destiny Rogowski was greeted by one of her own photographs Thursday as she walked into the Ellicott Square Building. The downtown landmark had a magnificent tree in the middle of its grand arcade, with 26 photographs of children set in a circle around the base. The faces were somber, joyous, reflective, timid, reserved. They made up the Heart Gallery of Western New York…

Buffalo

Just one little tale of gratitude to a stranger, in Buffalo. Tuesday was one of those days, a string of things going wrong, most of them due to my own stupidity. I ended up working late, and at 11:15 p.m. or so reached for my car keys on my desk at The Buffalo News, ready to go home and start over. No keys. I carry a big, heavy set of keys. This is strategic. I lo…

Columns

Ed Stone agreed to a little bet Thursday morning. He signed off on it with Ray Garland, who lives in Idaho and made a surprise call to Stone's house in Syracuse. In 1940, Stone enlisted in the Navy, in Buffalo, thus beginning a journey that would put him in Pearl Harbor 76 years ago today, during the Japanese attack of Dec. 7, 1941 . Stone was on the USS Pyro, which had…

Columns

(An earlier version of this column appeared a year ago, but only on BuffaloNews.com. It has been updated for 2017, to appear in print.) Ed Stone enlisted in the Navy in Buffalo, in December 1940. He did what the Navy told him. He brought only a light spring jacket. He remembers that he slept the night before at the YMCA. He remembers the stone steps of the old post o…

Columns

For Andrew Cisternino, you could take it as a sad moment, a passage just too soon. A bell will toll at exactly 10:25 a.m. Monday in Oswego Harbor, the exact instant of a tragedy in 1942. The names of six lost rescuers will be read aloud, and then a Coast Guard vessel will leave the Lake Ontario shoreline. Capt. Joseph Dufresne, commander of the Coast Guard sector in …

Columns

Until last year, Lisa Hitchcock had never met Rosemary Billquist. On a spring afternoon, a car rumbled up a clay driveway on a hill in Friendship, on the Southern Tier, where Hitchcock maintains a home-based rescue operation for dogs. Rosemary and her husband, Jamie, climbed out. "She was wearing a dress, this beautiful pretty dress," said Hitchcock, who watched as d…

Columns

John Patterson believes that he understands Sherman, a little community in Chautauqua County, about 75 miles from Buffalo. He arrived as a young man to take a job as a chemistry and math teacher at Sherman High School. He met his wife Sally about a half-century ago, when she worked as a secretary for the superintendent. The couple ran a family farm, with 100 cows and ca…

Columns

It was an unforgettable moment at an iconic event. The annual presentation of Handel's "Messiah" at Our Lady of Victory Basilica in Lackawanna has turned into a beautiful and moving tradition just after Thanksgiving in Western New York, a kind of symbolic yuletide gateway. The performance Sunday at the basilica – the majestic landmark opened in 1926 by Monsignor Nelson …

Columns

The teenager had to pack his life into a garbage bag. He was riding home on the school bus one afternoon this autumn, lost in conversation with classmates from his high school in suburban Buffalo, when he saw the police cars in front of his house. At 15, he is a high school sophomore, a thoughtful kid of slender build. He remembers how he climbed off the bus, where h…

Columns

Naniette Coleman had a memorable homecoming last weekend at the University at Buffalo. "To say this place made me who I am is an understatement," said Coleman, a 2002 UB graduate who is studying for her Ph.D in sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. Coleman returns as often as she can. Still, this visit had particular meaning: She came back to serve as …

Columns

For Joe Spina, detailed memory is both a gift and a remedy from all illusions. He was born in 1925, when Babe Ruth was still the greatest sports hero in the land, when a handful of merchants still used horses on the streets of Buffalo and when some elderly immigrants in his neighborhood still saw radio as a form of magic or witchcraft, carrying voices through the air. …