Doda’s Tickle Trunk Shutters After 25 Years in Kahnawake

Written by on September 10, 2020

After a quarter century a Kahnawake institution that has helped hundreds is shutting down. Doda’s Tickle Trunk has permanently closed its doors. Sonny Joe Cross and his team were forced to shut down, at the only location it has even known on the Old Malone Highway, March 14th due to the pandemic.

“Our volunteers they’re all elderly and we don’t want to take any chances. So we are better off just to finish it up,” Cross said. “I want to thank all of the people for bringing all of the clothes there and all the donations, we made hundreds and hundreds. I retired in 1983 for the first time in New York and then again this year at the age of 91.”

The Tickle Truck was opened in 1995 by volunteers as a way to raise funds for Karhiwanoron school. Joely Van Dommelen is the administrator at the school now. She has close family ties to the Tickle Trunk.

“Karhiwanoron Mohawk Immersion always had to fundraise to keep our program going. So my Tota, Frances Dione, who owned the flower shop called Katsitsiio at one time, she decided to retire from it and donate it to the school to raise funds. The late Selma Delisle let us use a house she had on the (Old Malone) Highway that she wasn’t using. The flower shop was there and later on my Tota had the idea of having a second hand store to also raise funds, which we opened in the back of the flower shop on the highway where Doda’s exists. It was in the garage in the back.”  

Sonny Joe, who volunteered there, took over the operation in 1997 and has spent the last 23 years serving the community.

“It was like therapy for us. We would get together and we talked and we keep moving. That’s why I’m still around at my age,” Cross said. “I advise anybody that retires to do something, volunteer, get a new hobby, do something.”

Meanwhile the former New York construction foreman is still volunteering and going strong on K1037. His show, Memory Lane, can be heard on Sundays between 1-5 PM. October 1st will mark 30 years on the air at K1037 for Sonny Joe Cross.

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