Monday, December 16, 2013

Buddy Dorney

Thinking of my late cousin, Buddy Dorney, this morning, who died in strange circumstances in early December 1962, apparently swept off rocks while fishing with his son in Tierra del Fuego. Only Buddy's body washed ashore. He was down there working for an oil company. Buddy was my Catholic godfather (I think for my sister also), a job he knew had no responsibilities, fine with him, as we were not being raised Catholic & he was minimally observant.

He loved beautiful women & flashy cars, married a former & drove a latter. We rarely saw him. When he visited, usually unannounced, he draped himself in tire snow chains from the garage & banged on the windows as "Mr. Clanky Chains," which threw us four siblings into hysteria although we knew it was him. He knew parlor tricks. Nana, my dad & mom adored him. Nana had raised Buddy & his older brother Jim, her late sister's kids. So they were more like young uncles to us.

 Buddy was the one fellow in my family who looked totally Irish, with dark hair, bushy eyebrows  & piercing eyes. He was the only one in the family considered to have the gift of blarney. Most Irish love blarney, knowing it's mainly bullcrap wrapped in flattery & persuasiveness. You enjoy blarney by surrendering to it.

 When Buddy died, I noticed my parents were unable to grieve together. Their marriage was over. I walked around the corner & sat on the steps of the Methodist Church, looking up at the winter stars, wishing I was in Atlantic City with my grandmother, I believed I could be a comfort to her.
Next day, in boys health class, when the story had appeared on the front page of the Elizabeth Daily Journal, old Coach Herm Shaw devoted the entire class to his memories of the Dorney Brothers. Coach Shaw, a kind man, did that for me. I never forgot it. When Coach died many years later, I sent a note to his wife, Dorothy, also a teacher, remembering the day. She was pleased to receive the note.

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