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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 ...in 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 Amazon.com 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