From "Out of Bounds"

Gus Dorais, Rockne teammate, roommate and “partner in crime.”
Gus Dorais, Rockne teammate, roommate and “partner in crime.”


This month's edition of Out of Bounds features a humorous story by Gus Dorais about dorm life with his famous roommate.


As partners in one of football's earliest and best passing combinations, quarterback Gus Dorais collaborated with end Knute Rockne in a famous game of pass-and-catch that gave Notre Dame its first victory over Army in 1913. Less well known is their collaboration in a few prizefights in the South Bend-Gary area. Rockne did the fighting; Dorais was his second--and they shared the prize. Dorais and Rockne also shared a dormitory room on the Notre Dame campus and, according to this small confession, collaborated on some profitable hazing schemes.


Radiator Rent

By Gus Dorais


I knew Knute Rockne not as coach, but as roommate, teammate and fellow conspirator through four undergraduate years at Notre Dame. Any tale of mine, then, about Rock is likely to smell of creosote, for I lived in its aroma throughout those years and suffered the smells of many a batch of hair restorer brewed by Rockne, the budding chemist. None of it ever worked, but that never deterred Rock from stirring up more of his evil-smelling mixtures.


Rock spent those four years trying to get even-which he did and more-for having been mulcted his first week on the campus of a portion of his meager supply of funds by upper-classmen, who convinced him it was proper for incoming freshmen to contribute toward a flower fund for the university president. Though he had little enough money on hand then, or later, either, for that matter, Rock kicked in. However, in the years that followed the tables not only turned-they spun. Many of Rock's enterprising money-raising projects, such as charging green newcomers for the use of one necessity or another, were carried out alone. But he hit upon an idea in our junior year that needed assistance. Before freshmen became too steeped in college ways, I would call on them in Walsh Hall to inquire if the radiator rent had been paid. It never had been, so then it was practice to call 'Rock' in from the hall and let him start dismantling the radiator. It was always good for a small fee-until school authorities learned about it and put that corporation out of business.


We lived in one of those basement rooms, [Sorin Hall] half below and half above ground, and like every other room in the dormitory at the time the windows were barred, but not for long: With a bit of professional help we had one window fixed so that it swung open like a door. From then on, the after-hours traffic through that window was greater than the legitimate flow through the main entrance, but whereas the latter was without cost the Rockne-inspired gateway was strictly on a toll basis. From students using it to bring in foodstuffs after hours there was a straight ten per cent fee; from others we took whatever we thought the traffic would bear.


That project almost ended on a night of heavy sleep when neither of us heard a band of late arrivals, nor knew until morning that they had left in our room a pile of such trinkets from South Bend streets as lanterns, sign posts and other similar trivia. As a matter of fact, the prefect who woke students discovered it first and some unpleasant moments followed until finally it blew over with the secret of the profitable window still undiscovered.