Oh Give Me A Home Where the Buffalo Roam

January 8, 2011

The city I live in just lost one of its most legendary characters,  and in a place that boasts a cannibal killer and a serial murderer, that’s saying something.

I met Paul approximately forty years ago, when I was a high school student.  He was mad as a hatter, and even back then, the ravages of alcohol were evident.  He had the yellowest eyes I’ve ever seen.

Despite his mental instability (that’s putting it mildly), Paul was extremely intelligent, and was said to have been absolutely brilliant before whatever happened to him happened.  Some people say that he had been a Professor Emeritus of Literature & History at Vassar College; others say he was an accomplished chemist.  Among the many rumors about him, the most persistent was that Paul had a lot of money.  Yet he was often homeless.

In the 1970s, I spent quite a bit of my leisure time at a nightclub that featured live music; sometimes it was local talent, and other times it was major recording artists.   In between sets, Paul would roller skate across the stage, wearing a buffalo head hat with huge horns, a gigantic bow tie and enormous sunglasses.

Everybody knew Paul, and everybody I talk to has a story to tell about him.  Much to my delight, students often include him in their “I Am Frompoems.  The funniest incident from my own personal experiences with Paul has to have been the time he handed me a rose in a New Paltz dance club and asked me to go out to dinner with him. When I declined, he pulled down his pants and mooned me!  That memory still makes me laugh.

Rest peacefully, Paul.

Song of the Day: Still Crazy After All These Years by Paul Simon

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11 Responses to “Oh Give Me A Home Where the Buffalo Roam”

  1. Terri T said

    Sounds like he was a very special part of your area….and great that he will be remembered.

  2. Jim said

    I don’t think there were any dance clubs in New Paltz back in my days (and nights) there. Mostly everyone just crammed in Pat & George’s bar until you had to wait for the person next to you to exhale so that there would be room for you to inhale.

  3. Sasha said

    A very interesting character. I wonder what his story really was? RIP.

  4. Bex said

    We had a character in our town growing up like Paul, too. His name was “Donie” and he was the town “bum.” He was kind and pleasant, though, whenever he talked to us, and he just seemed to fade away as the years wore on. I have no idea where he is. It’s nice that your guy will be remembered.

  5. LeAnn said

    In Lawton all we have is a paint huffer named Crazy Larry. A Paul would be a delightful change.

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