Life continues very well past 90!

Of course, you’ve heard the old statement that life begins at 40?
But what about 90? And did you realize there are pretty spry 90-year-olds everywhere you turn in this town?
Remember, before you act too surprised, this is the community I like to call the New Atlantis for so many astounding things going on here, and the 90-year-olds among us keep on helping me make the point!
You won’t have to enter Rainycrest to find them, either, although our popular district dwelling contains more than the average—at least those who don’t prefer to live alone any more.
People like Leif Willar, for example, who developed part of our East End before finally retiring. You might not believe that Leif is now 90!
This is an old work buddy from Paul A. Laurence Construction who had us working all over the papermill at one time, including tarring that big roof in January. He alternated with Harry Christiansen and Stan Dolyny as our superintendent for years.
So, I walk into Safeway and bump into Maurice Vaillancourt, minus his cane, and he says he is 93 although his appearance is very much against that, maybe around 60. Maurice is shopping alone and reporting his only problem in walking is a slight dizziness sometimes on his living room carpet.
At the Dairy Queen, I am confronted by Andrew Doucette, my farming companion of 35 years ago, who leaves his church group to stand up and shake hands—and admit with a grin that a story I hear about him is true.
Andrew has finally moved out of Crozier and into Green Manor but he doesn’t stay away from his family home very long, having promised a much younger neighbour to put up his firewood because the neighbour doesn’t own a chainsaw!
Andy is a life-long bachelor who has spent much of his 90-year career bucking and splitting firewood enough for at least two homes right along, and sees no reason to change.
Let me disgress here long enough to admit that without Andy’s untiring assistance, I could not have succeeded in keeping so many cattle because he got me started and taught me much about haying, fencing, and farm life in general.
He knew it all and loved it so much himself, it became contagious for me as a know-nothing from downtown.
There are many others around town, including Walter Andrusco, 95, our old town bandmaster, Ukrainian leader, and just the man for anyone who needs someone to look up to.
You’ll please note that this abbreviated list of outstanding local citizens does not include names of any senior ladies although they’re here, too—and mostly would probably prefer not to have their ages advertised despite their accomplishments.
Analyze further and you may decided that the closer our seniors get to the century mark, the more valuable they become—health permitting,.
There are now so many out there providing leadership and giving us the benefit of their experience that it’s no stretch at all to realize we could never have made it this far without them all!
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One senior lady, although nowhere near 90, wants to contribute a book on logging to our centennial efforts. Let’s just say she knows what she wants to write about from being both the daughter and widow of district loggers.
She has no experience in writing but a meeting with author Neil McQuarrie, who is now doing a book on Fort Frances, probably has got her started. Let’s hope so!
• • •
Mentioning the late Ole Hallikas’ name last week brings up the story of the horse in a Shevlin-Clarke sawmill worker’s bedroom years ago.
Ole said friends of a fellow they wanted to surprise had no trouble walking the horse upstairs—but the real fun began in trying to get him downstairs after their somewhat inebriated victim awoke and started shouting.
This probably occurred in the old Green Onion rooming house next to the White Pine Inn. Anyway, the result was a second-storey hole in the floor and some vigorous efforts with a block and tackle arrangement to eject that horse!
• • •
Nov. 15 was probably the record late date for lawn mowing in this part of Atlantis, but it happened across the highway from Witherspoon’s gas station this year—and no doubt elsewhere around town, too.
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A lost puppy was lucky enough on Safeway’s parking lot last week to befriend a pair of young missionaries, who made sure he got a meal before being taken to town hall for possible identification!
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Is there an earthquake fault running through Fort Frances same as at Toronto? This is the first time it’s been talked about to me, and hopefully my informant is mistaken!
• • •
After around 35 years of great entertainment, the Rainycrest Rascals have dissolved! Angelo Dittaro reports Vergil Cousineau, Joey Ossachuk, and the rest have decided to pack it up.
Bygone members of the group included Art and Claude DeBenedet, Cliff Peterson, Arnie Lahti, Arvid Soderholm, and an unforgettable assortment of local stars who cheered our oldtimers with assistance of their Musicians’ Union.
• • •
Gordie Calder, who should know from his own many years of hockey experience, claims the main advantage young American teams have against our side is the emphasis their coaches put on skating ability, as was proved here last Friday against Grand Rapids when the Borderland Thunder lost by one goal after leading 4-2 until the last five minutes.
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Larry Syrovy from the Republic of Czecho-Slovakia (via Winnipeg), who has been with us as owner-manager of Rainy Lake Hotel for the past nine years, reports it will cost an estimated $250,000 to put the hotel’s third storey back in service someday with an elevator, fresh wiring, and plumbing.
But I won’t bet against this young guy making up his mind to go ahead anyway!

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