Sonny’s gone!

Word that our former NHL’er, Ed (Sonny) Kryzanowski, had died at Atikokan, his home of recent years, hit those from my high school era here very hard. His memory will be prized in Fort Frances, his original hometown, because this always modest man began his athletic career here in high school football as well as hockey of the 1940s before the Boston Bruins claimed him for its blueline. Sonny was closer to me than any other high school friend, having bunked with me twice at Kenora when we spent two nights there after football games. To this day, local hockey fans still marvel at Sonny’s physical ability whenever he skated here, joining his friends on our Canadians’ lineup occasionally before he went to Boston. His wife was the former Elaine Mallory, a local lady and good friend of my sister-in-law, Gail Madill (Shortreed), who had visited them at Atikokan. Sonny had been ill for a long time.
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Until you’ve enjoyed one of musician Bob Wepruk’s monthly shin-digs at Rainycrest, you cannot imagine how all those seniors can still shake a leg. I’m glad whenever Bob notifies me his next dance is coming up because that’s real entertainment over there when those old-timers hit the floor! I used to visit some of the district dance halls where the old-time stepping is usually on view—square dancing at its best, for instance—but I had never witnessed that four-partner schoteese done before and it’s doubtful if it’s ever seen much anywhere else yet. This can be poetry in motion with experienced performers and the four ladies I witnessed one evening at Rainycrest had it “down pat,” even though there eventually was a tangle and a fall with nobody hurt (probably because the four dancers had not attempted it in years). Their first try went very well, though! Talk about teamwork! You’ll never believe those ladies had not tried it lately. Everyone moving independently, this was a dance to remember!
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My first car accident in all my years of driving occurred a week ago when an elderly woman struck my Dial-A-Ride taxi. Although I was wearing my seatbelt, the impact threw me against the car’s inside window and jarred my neck while leaving me a “shiner” and a shallow gash on my forehead. When taxi owner Paul Bock phoned to learn my condition, I could tell him “Good, I think!” There could be repercussions, but I trust not because my luck on the road for many years was always working for me.
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I thought of my good friend, “Jimmy” Mathieu, when pulpwood trucker Dan Jorgenson told me one noon how quickly our nearby forests are disappearing even though two large local sawmills shut down many years ago: Mathieu’s at Rainy Lake and Shevlin Clark downtown where Abitibi now stores its huge pulpwood piles today. Nearby roadsides are becoming bare everywhere, Jorgenson reports!
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Jerry Parent is a golfer hoping for good grass growth with lots of rain. Formerly of Kapuskasing and now an apartment neighbour of mine, he knows both the Kitchen Creek and Heron Landing courses and prepared for this season by buying new golf shoes he was wearing to “break in.” The new shoes have rubber insets in their soles so as not to damage the links.
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My eldest granddaughter, Alexis Vandetti, the nurse, was home briefly from Ottawa which, as we compared notes, seems not to have changed a great deal since I helped found Carleton College, where I enrolled after the Second World War. I’m invited there in May as a charter student but I doubt I’ll attend.
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Yes, things certainly have changed from pre-war days and here’s a few examples: Schools “stayed put,” and Robert Moore hopefully will never be discarded despite any declining enrolment that occurs. It’s too full of memories for most of us once enrolled there. I want to stop and linger there whenever passing! I miss the tall outdoor swing and so much more from the days when Fletcher H. Huffman was principal. The long-standing lumber piles that towered to the east are no longer there for us kids to enjoy—although plenty cold in winters with the winds whipping through. And further east there was always fun to be found in Pither’s Point Park and around its pavilion, where ice cream seemed extra tasty. Dancing there Saturday evening brought out our bands, under Roy Fagerdahl and Don Law. The nearby Fort Lac la Pluie, hand-built to commemorate La Verendrye, also has vanished. Yes, you could say we have lost too much, but the above is not even half the changes–and going downtown past the abandoned Rainy Lake Hotel can only deepen your sorrow while the absence of no fewer than five other hotels also has occurred. There are schools going down through declining enrolment and no fresh industries coming on to stimulate our economy—although the papermill, lately considered possibly obsolete, has taken a fresh lease on life. So it’s possible our community can still flourish in unexpected ways! But we’ve lost a lot during the recent evolution!
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“I’ll do it again anytime,” reports Art Scheirer after their seven-day sightseeing trip to Israel! There they saw the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. Tel Aviv, and the Mediterranean, and took bus trips all around the Mideast. Their son, Curtis, flies all over the world with Air Canada!
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Bill Sadowick of Terrace Bay, Ont., came along to tell me he knew my father, Tony, the cement finisher, when they both worked for Paul A. Laurence Construction company from Minneapolis on papermill construction jobs. He recalled another friend, Bill Stachiew, and his brother, Jack.
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Shirley and Howard Wiens at Atikokan were making friends around McDonald’s at lunch on Monday and recalling Max Clement, also from Atikokan, whom I know as a trapper in that area.

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