Just let ‘Dorf’ do it!

My memory keeps on bouncing back to my boyhood and here’s Rudolph (Dorfo) Coran standing among our community’s heroes, with his jovial good humour.
He has abilities to do almost anything despite limitations that would have discouraged most others long ago.
Dorf is not a big man and physically lost much when he missed grabbing a freight train as a 10-year-old but rolled under its wheels!
For him, though, short of an arm, a leg, and partial fingers on the remaining hand, this never seemed a major catastrophy (his loss of blood was slowed down when he rolled into a ditch full of cold water!)
Now in his 80s, Dorf will read this and laugh it off, and wonder whether Vandetti has gone all the way around the bend! But most of our era would agree this account is long overdue.
Our acquaintance goes back to one of Dorf’s earliest woodworking projects—a wooden play rifle he made that would shoot an arrow propelled by a strip of rubber inner tubing.
When I admired it as a five-year-old, Dorf came across Third Street East to trade it to me for a large tailoring book that older women may remember. My dad was somewhat alarmed by my proudest possession while Dorf continued his carpentering as if undaunted by his accident.
The doctor and hospital bills would have been horrendous even then! Dorf’s father worked in the papermill and had sidelines like raising canaries in his basement, but the Italian community swung in to help.
My own dad had no money to spare in those trying times, but there were businesses like the Belluz brothers and others helping long before government aid arrived.
So, Dorfo came out of it with a crutch and eventually a wooden leg with which he would swing into games like a star athlete. He played baseball with as much strength in one arm as non-cripples and rode his bicycle using one pedal. Using a steel hook for the mising hand, he became a weightlifter.
When winter came, you might see Dorf pull a toboggan for five miles to Blueberry Mountain and limp back dragging a huge Christmas tree. With his one dog in harness and sometimes others to make up a team, Dorf might also be seen out racing in the coldest weather.
Occasionally, I’ll get the phone call from Dorf wanting me to remember items around town, such as a winter slide that was built by the river or the brickworks west of town by the railroad, or other significant features we both once knew here, oh, let’s say up to 70 years ago.
Start that with Dorfo and, being a few years older, he will top my memory every time.
His working day once included the bakery on his father’s home lot, next to the bocci ball (bowling) alley in the driveway where the Italians would gather on a Sunday.
Dorf had many other diversions, including showing talent for drawing that could stop high school teachers in their tracks when they passed his desk.
Coming from a family of seven, including three younger brothers, Dorf was never short of company and, of course, his three sisters appreciated him also—even when he might tease them constantly.
Now Dorf has outlived two brothers and one sister.
He became an International Falls storekeeper at one point, taking on a small store which we found him managing very well. And on the side at that time, maybe back in the ’50s, he was paid to carve scenes on the handles and stocks of police firearms.
It turned out, eventually, that there was little this supposedly handicapped man couldn’t do when he got the notion. While the rest of us were coming and going and probably wasting too much time at it, Dorf was always full of ideas and progress.
But he was never too busy to do you a favour when called upon and nobody thought of Dorf as handicapped in any way.
Now, I can expect a blistering call over all this as Dorf explodes in my ear on the phone, but I’m going to insist it was worth it to be able to identify a model citizen that many here may never have known. Or if they’ve met Dorf, he has been a genuine inspiration to all.
You see, we go along expecting the world to be good to us but if that doesn’t happen, why, just remember Dorfo!
• • •
We’re all quite thrilled with the success of “Scott Street Scare” last Friday night, to which I subscribed for the first time for Hallowe’en and to take the pressure off our front door in case of a cold night.
There were a few tentative knocks but those kids were called off by older companions reading our sign.
• • •
Fred Grozelle’s Daschund treed a full-grown bear twice in his Sixth Street backyard recently. Fred reports his dog weighs in at 10 pounds! Eventually the bear ran into the brush and that bully of a dog could be called off!
• • •
Smiling Kelvin (“Brush”) Christiansen was home again with his father, Walter, to get more tips on running his University of Alaska hockey team. Their family has clocked more ice-time already, including two other stellar brothers, than probably any known family in hockey history!
Brush is now in the Alaska Hall of Fame.
• • •
At the Harbourage Restaurant, two Hallowe’en skeletons were sure not advertising the good cooking obtainable there. Eating in that place, I believe, has had the opposite results for me—and also the proprieter, Don Hammond, as we both continue to avoid the weight scales!
• • •
For the friendliest smile in this entire community, I have to nominate Sandy McFarland, who happens to be my cousin. And I just wish I had half as good a smile, something I could never claim.
But to many, it seems to come easily while the world becomes a happier place.
• • •
Just get Bruce Biddeson discussing local history when you meet in Safeway. Bruce, at 93, still lives on the river at the west end here and can tell you about local events of 1873—in the days of his forefathers.
They included both Methodist and Baptist clergymen of that era on both sides of the river. One undertook to preach in the back room of an International Falls bar, where those in attendance sat on the whiskey kegs—large and small.
• • •
Murray Donnelly is an old friend who seems to be losing weight, if not his cheerful attitude. When I commented his shoes were his largest feature nowadays, he pointed out that he can still fill them (no matter how much slack he shows in his other clothing!)
Murray, like his mother before him, is a former land registrar in Fort Frances. Mrs. Donnelly Sr. held that position for scores of years.
• • •
And Stan and Alma Wepruk now have 50 happy years to think back on!

Posted in Uncategorized