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Verona Doughboy topples to road

The curse of the Verona Doughboy strikes again.

Just when residents thought he was safe at the Allegheny River Boulevard war memorial, he took a spill, cracking at the ankles.

Police received a report Saturday afternoon that the Doughboy, Verona’s memorial copper-colored statue, had fallen.

He was lying to the left of his marble platform when police found him, his raised arm and hand in pieces. Police photographed the scene before anything was moved.

They said they do not suspect criminal mischief as the cause. The mulch and brush were not disturbed, and there were no footprints, police said. Several people reported seeing the Doughboy in place only an hour earlier.

The Verona Borough street department crew arrived to carefully remove the statue and take it for safe keeping.

Verona Councilman Dave Ricupero believes the cause could be a flaw in the workmanship. He has been in contact with Tom Podnar of McKay Lodge in Ohio, who was responsible for the Doughboy’s restoration several years ago.

Podnar said he would have expected a flaw in the work to show up sooner than three years after it was returned to its place in Verona.

“It’s very hard to tell if someone climbed on it one or two months ago and stressed it so that it was weakened by that action and cracked,” Podnar said.

The statue split at its narrowest part — the ankles.

Police said the area showed signs of stress cracks.

“There were also air pockets between the inner material of the statue and the solder-like material inside,” the report said.

Ricupero will send photographs of the damage to Podnar, who will decide whether a mistake in the workmanship is to blame.

Podnar, who has relatives in Oakmont, brought the statue home to Ohio for restoration, during which he disassembled the zinc statue and filled it with plaster.

Doughboys are now a rarity because of their fragility, he said. A previous attempt at restoration at Donatelli Monuments actually damaged it further.

The rumored curse, it seems, comes from the Doughboy’s tendency to be victim of disasters.

From the time he was bought by Verona’s VFW Post 441 in 1943, the warehouse he was stored in was destroyed by fire, but he was restored.

In 1997, vandals broke his arm and a group of council members — Ricupero, Earl Hendricks and Peggy Suchevich — raised $25,000 to refurbish the monument.

A few months after returning to the boulevard, the Doughboy began to leak.

“He’s been through a lot,” Ricupero said.

For now, the borough will display an eagle monument at the war memorial.

Repairs on the fallen Doughboy, of which there is only one other made of zinc in the country, will likely take at least a year, Ricupero said.

Holly Usher is a staff writer with the Advance Leader in Oakmont.


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