top of page

A Tribute to Radiator Don as the Buffalo Kid

Updated: Mar 27, 2023

The Buffalo Kid, my first book, was inspired by homeless people I had met in my life, living in Los Angeles, and then Buffalo, New York. It was also very much inspired by the city of Buffalo itself, a town which I fell in love with, and yet one whose streets and broken neighborhoods reflected its tragic background, and yet whose resilience and inner beauty caught my heart. Buffalo personified the very character I created in the book, a destitute man in his early 70’s whom they called the Buffalo Kid because he was the oldest homeless person in the city.

For years I searched the web for the perfect person to match my concept of the Kid, someone I could use for the front cover of the book, but it wasn’t until I met up with Cindy Anderson, a brilliant artist and designer who lived in Paso Robles, California, who told me about a friend of hers named Radiator Don, whom she thought might be willing to pose for a new cover edition of the book.

When I heard his story and saw the image of him, I was taken. In his face, his eyes, the very air about him, without ever having met the man, I knew that Radiator Don would embrace the virtues I depicted in the book and that he was, and is, The Buffalo Kid.

About the book:

John Ross was living the American dream; a great job, a wife, two newborns, a house, car... all the perks of a successful life - but one day it all came crashing down when the company he worked for pulled up it stakes and left town, leaving him jobless. It didn't take long for the sharks, the banks, to smell blood as he defaulted on his mortgage and loans, and soon, John faced bankruptcy. His wife, more dedicated to her own interests than him, also pulled up stakes and disappeared with his two children, and soon, with nothing but the clothes he owned, John Ross headed to the streets - penniless, destitute, and soon forgotten about.

Thirty-one years later, now seventy-one years of age and the oldest homeless man in Buffalo, hidden beneath a scraggly beard, long hair, a wrinkled visage, a layer of hardened dirt, and tattered clothing, most referred to him as the Buffalo Kid, and for all, except one man who knew him as a child, John Ross no longer existed.

It's a cold blustery day in Buffalo, New York, as the wind sweeps through the city center like a tsunami. A lone figure braces its brutal punch, the Kid, in search of food. He sees a man approaching and asks him for money and to his shock, the stranger hands him a $50 dollar bill.  In his entire thirty-one years on the streets he'd never held more than a fiver in his hand. Despite the freezing cold and the pangs assaulting him from a starved body, the Kid decides to the follow the stranger, and what ensues is a bizarre, thrilling and inspiring collaboration. This is a story about undying hope and second chances - a story that touches the heart of most anyone, because John Ross, aka the Buffalo Kid, could be the homeless man on the streets of your city. You will see the destitute in a different light after reading this story.

"Amazing take on modern human dilemmas."

- Marina Osipova, author of The Cruel Romance

"Compelling and surprising. A must read."

- Cynthia De Boer, author of Me, Myself and Eye

“It was impossible to stop reading once I picked it up…”

"You'll want to reread this one after finishing it. Yes, it is that good."

- Vermont Reviewer

19 views0 comments


bottom of page