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Finding  Nemo  John Dorusa −by Ralph "BaZoo" Winter, OHNS-LM37

W hen our Webmaster added the Nickel's Carver's Showcase to the OHNS website, I thought it was very informative service to the hobo nickel collector and carver community. I immediately volunteered to help begin to "fill up the page." I was able to assist by furnishing photos of a couple of hobo nickel carvers and/or examples of their work. When Verne posted a photocopy picture of John Dorusa, I took it on as a challenge to see if I might be able to obtain an actual photograph of John.

M y first thought was to go to the Internet and search and see if there were any Dorusas or Dorushas... original family name the Somerset, Pennsylvania or in the surrounding areas. I came up with none!

I then turned to the photocopy photograph that Verne used initially. I had received a similar photocopy of this photo taken at a coin club meeting in Somerset, Pennsylvania sometime in 1981. Ed Luksik from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania had sent me this when I purchased a John Dorusa hobo nickel from him. I was told it appeared in the Somerset Daily American. I looked up the paper's phone number on the Internet and gave them a call to inquire about possible archives. I then got my first dose of bad news. Three years ago, the Daily American moved into a new building. Rather than move their archives, they destroyed all their archives so they didn't have to move them.

A s I stared at the photocopy of the picture in front of me, I saw that the photo was taken by Keith Boyer. I asked the person at the paper if Keith still worked for the paper. She said no. I then asked if there were some "old timers" at the paper who might have known Keith. She thought for a moment and connected me to just such a person... I never did get this person's name. She told me Keith had moved on to another paper and also that Keith had published or contributed photographs for several books. A quick search of brought Keith up immediately. By reading some information I found there, I learned that Keith was currently a professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, IUP. I called IUP and got Keith's number. Keith and I had a nice conversation, but the bottom line was that when he worked for the Daily American, he turned over all photographs and negatives to the paper... Remember, destroyed 3 years ago. He did check his personal archives, but was unable to come up with anything. I had come so close yet so far away.

Makes you wonder if somewhere, in some attic or basement, there might be a photo of
George Washington "Bo" Hughes?

I then emailed Ed Luksik for further information. We had a series of emails back and forth. In one, he mentioned that Nancy Dorusa, John's widow, had severe Alzheimer's and was in a nursing home. OHNS Board member Don Haley had visited her a year or two earlier and passed this information on to Ed. I did a quick check on the Internet and found there were only two nursing homes in the Jennerstown/Somerset, Pennsylvania area that were equipped to deal with Alzheimer's. With medical privacy laws in effect, I knew the homes would not tell me if Nancy was a resident. I quickly eliminated one... I won't say how ...and decided to write Nancy at the other one. I wrote my letter such that if a relative received it, they would understand what and why I was asking for a photo of John Dorusa.

A day or two later, I received from Ed Luksik a photocopy of an article on John Dorusa that had appeared in the Daily American in 1981. Be looking in a future BoTales for the reprint of this article along with comments obtained from Del Romines. There were two great leads contained in that article. The first thing I saw was that John had been a member of the Jenner Rod and Gun Club since 1948. I found the club's phone number on the Internet and gave them a call. The person I talked to knew that John had been a member but said that most of John's friends had passed away. But he told me he'd ask around and told me to call back in a couple of days. I did, but again, no one had a photo of John.

T here was another lead in the article Ed sent me. Nancy's maiden name was Marple. I again did an Internet search and came up with two different Marples in the Somerset Pennsylvania area. I decided to call the first one. Georgia Marple answered. I told her who I was and what I was looking for. She then told me she had the letter I had written to Nancy in front of her at that very moment. Finally... success! We had a pleasant conversation and she sent me a photograph of John which you can now see on the OHNS website.

I had a lot of fun playing P.I. and coming up with the photo of John Dorusa. Makes you wonder if somewhere, in some attic or basement, there might be a photo of George Washington "Bo" Hughes?

Click on any photograph for enlargement.

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Webpage last updated:   Wednesday, February 16, 2005