Family Memories

Selected from our Family Picture Collection

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(Posted as received with latest at the bottom).

Toronto Storm of 1944 (John Bulloch)
With the record snow storms in Boston and the horrible weather in Ontario, I thought you would all enjoy some family history associated with the famous Toronto storm of December 11, 1944. Everyone was unprepared for 22 inches of snow, and with our garage and car at the rear of our house on Richview Avenue, the snow drifts were over six feet high up against the garage door.

Our father was making officer's uniforms during the war and he felt he had to get down to the store to open the factory in case any of his tailors showed up. He actually walked through uncleared snow from our home south of Eglington off Bathurst all the way down to the store south of College on Bay Street. As a young man our dad and your grandfather Bulloch was as strong as a bull. Walking home was not as bad as some of the main roads had been cleared.

The schools were closed for almost a week. No one was driven to school then and it would have been impossible for Ian at age seven to walk eight blocks thru the snow. The city did not have the equipment to clear the streets overnight like they have today. I remember a week of make-up at the year's end which cut into our holidays.

I was given a serious job by dad to clear a path from the road to the side of the house where we had a coal shoot and a side door. The news stories on the radio were all about the danger of people freezing because coal could not be delivered, and people not getting their milk delivered which their children needed. I remember a story of a horse dropping dead because of the strain. Most deliveries were horse drawn because of gasoline rationing.

The snow was over my head at the side of the house and I never thought I would ever clear a pass out to the road. I didn't want to let dad down. Mother sensed this and came out to help me shovel. That night dad praised me for clearing a path because the coal delivery was scheduled for the next day. I told him that mother helped me. Then dad gave me a hug.

Kilroy Was Here (John Bulloch)
This story is about a WW2 slogan that signified the super American GI and was scrolled on whatever or wherever US troops were active. As kids Ian and I would see it photographed and shown in newspaper articles and in newsreels and we would scroll it on the sidewalk outside of our home on Richview Avenue. The original Kilroy was a famous shipbuilding inspector who painted Kilroy Was Here on each ship that passed inspection. The armed services picked it up as a victory slogan. Another story of the time was that an outhouse was built at the famous Potsdam conference where Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt divided up the conquered territories after the War. And during the conference after being used by Stalin he asked in Russian, “Who was Kilroy?”.

Well when the family went to see our grandparents in Ireland in1947 we found the slogan Kilroy Was Here painted on the inside of our cabin door of the Queen Elizabeth luxury liner. It was a troop ship during the war and at 30 mph the ship could outrun any German submarine. Our room had held 6 soldiers sleeping in hammocks and one of them had painted Kilroy Was Here on the door, and the management when the ship was completed repainted and converted back to a luxury liner decided to leave the symbol of victory untouched.

Ian and I had our strong views on the symbol as well. When I was 12 and he was 8, we played in the back yard and instead of going into the house to use the toilet, peed against the back of the garage. Ian had a flash of brilliance one day and we rushed into the house and with chalk printed Kilroy Was Here on the back outside wall. Mother and dad never discovered our mischief.

Understanding Uncle Peter (John Bulloch)
Whether sad, joyful or even weird, family history binds us together. And if you ever wondered if there was something different about Uncle Peter, read on.

The family went to Ireland after the War as you all know. I was 13, Ian was 9 and Robert 4 years of age. Robert was wired and was gone all day on the ship and explained that he was at the ‘horse ball fights’. We later found out he worked his way through the staff doors into first class and was watching people play squash. Then while we were waiting for our train in London’s Euston station, he climbed onto a troop train and was whisked off to Coventry. The train made a special stop in Rugby where we picked him up with his pockets full of chocolate bars, each being a full week’s rations at the time.

The family home was at the corner of Maryville Park and the Lisburn Rd., an upscale part of Belfast. The home had twelve rooms, each with their own fireplace but freezing cold during our March and April visit because there was only coal enough for heating one room. Grandfather went out all night with a whisk and a shovel and followed coal trucks picking up their droppings. A bath was a once a month family event, and it took a full day to heat a tank of water by diverting heat from the downstairs fireplace. There was a pecking order about who got in first. Grandfather Bulloch was first and Robert was last. I was seventh and remember pushing the soap and scum away so I could wash myself. The expression “Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater” comes from the baby being the last one to get into the family communal bath.

Uncle Herbert finished his war duties when we were there and he gave his air force cap to Ian which became his most prized possession. He wore it every day and wore it on his head going to bed. All of us wore long underwear, socks and hats to go to bed. Coals from the fire were put into a special container and all the beds were warmed up before we hit the hay. We all had pots under our beds if we had to go, because no one would try to find the one toilet in the house in the dark and in freezing weather. The house was a gift from the famous great grandfather Devon to his daughter. A lot of us have a Devon middle name, and now we have Michael and Deannes’ Devon Bulloch.

About a block away from Maryville Park is the public library with its famous gardens. That was the home of great grandfather Devon, who gave all of his personal wealth to the city of Belfast but his companies to his eldest son. Great grandmother Devon was a knock-down beauty as a young woman, and all of their descendants are big people with fine features just like my father. He invented a compound that would soften calcium deposits in boilers and he wanted to sell it to the British Navy. Unfortunately his real name then was Divine and not Devon and his mother Mary McGregor was the granddaughter of Rob Roy McGregor, the Scottish nationalist who the Brits despised. So we are all Devons because he wanted to fool the Brits about his Scottish heritage. All of you are descendants of Rob Roy McGregor and should download the movie if that is possible.

All the linens in the house were either manufactured or distributed by Bulloch Bros., the partnership of our grandfather John Bulloch’s father John and his brothers James and Alexander. They were famous in their day and are written up in the Linen Institute library in Belfast. Linen replaced Cotton in the UK during the US civil war and it put Belfast and the Bulloch family on the map. The marriage of grandfather and grandmother Bulloch was an arranged marriage by the two most wealthy and powerful families of the day. When our dad and mother got married, mother said that dad had never seen his mother and father kiss or hug. Mother said she had to teach him what to do but that he was a fast learner.

On the way back on the ship from Ireland, mother and dad had us all sit down in our cabin while mother explained that she was pregnant. Ian asked if we were going to get another brother. Mother explained that she did not know. Then she said, “Your grandfather would put your father and me in a double bed.” Dad gave his famous grunty and shaky shoulder laugh. Ian and Robert missed the point, but being a sophisticated 13 year old man of the world I understood what she was saying.

Anyway if you think your Uncle Peter is a little unusual, remember that he was conceived in a bed as hard as a rock, between linen sheets the consistency of sandpaper, and at temperatures just above freezing.

Grandpa Bulloch (John Bulloch)
Dad was the captain of the Winnipeg Wanderers in 1929. He played Irish Rugby at Inst. in Belfast and for one of their teams when he was doing his apprenticeship.

He had two big strong friends that he played with, and their idea of fun was to hit a pub on the Falls Road on Saturday night and sing an Orange song that would start what he called 'a good fight'. The Falls Road was the Catholic area of Belfast.

They joined the Rhodesian Mounted Police, and dad was on the verge of following them when he saw an ad posted in the Belfast Telegraph offering free passage to Canada for a year's labour in the wheat fields of Saskatchewan.

His cousin Pamela Cansdale, who is my age and a dear friend, married Fred McDowell who became the athletic instructor at Inst. He brought their rugby team on a Canadian tour and dad put up one of his ads to promote a game at Exhibition Park and brought out over a thousand spectators.

Fred died last year, but Pamela is still alive.

Uncle Leslie (John Bulloch)
Uncle Leslie was very much like Uncle James, good natured, kind and honourable, and both joined the RCMP during WW2 and were posted in Halifax.

Germans speaking perfect English had been landed in the area and their job was to sabotage the ship building facilities. It was the job of our uncles to stop them.

In a hotel one night Leslie was hit over the head with an Orange Crush bottle and ten years later when working for dad, he developed a brain tumor where he had been hit and died about nine months later.

Dad cried at his funeral.

Leslie belonged to brethren and not supposed to have insurance but he did. Aunty Jean, his wife, never told dad she got insurance money during the time that dad gave her a job keeping the addressograph system current so she could support Joanie and Maureen.

Years later when dad found out about the insurance he really felt deceived and hurt. He never forgave Aunty Jean.

Dad created a woman’s business for a while, and put Leslie in charge but he continuously put his hand on their hips or rears when he wanted them to turn around, just as he would for a man, and this rough behaviour lost him a couple of their best customers.

Grandmother Bulloch said Leslie was the best looking of her children. He weighed 15 pounds at birth, a commonwealth record at the time, and the story of his birth appeared in newspapers and on the radio around the world.

Understanding Uncle Alex (John Bulloch)
You will never understand yourself or the other members of your family until you study your ancestry back to your great grandparents. A form of autism runs in the Bulloch family and it goes back generations.

Uncle Alex had Asperger's Syndrome (AS) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). He was socially insensitive, became an expert only on things that interested him, but was very bright. Not spending money was an art form with him and a sickness. Of the seven children of Bertha Devon and John Millar Clark Bulloch, he was the middle child (John, James, Bertha, Alex, Leslie, George and Herbert).

Of his uncles and aunts on his father's side, his Aunty Ida was also peculiar as they used to describe her. This bunch were John, James, Sissy, Ida, Walter and May. Great Aunt May lived to age 96. Great Uncle Walter was sent to America in disgrace for having a dalliance with two of the maids. He died of the Spanish flue after WW1 in California. Dad took us all to meet Great Aunt Ida in Bangor in 1947 and she was the only person on the street that had not cut her grass, and about 30 cats in her living room were jumping off and on a huge duffle bag hanging from a chandelier. Great Aunt Sissy married well and her eldest son became the mayor of Belfast. Old Uncle James, as we called him, lived in Toronto. He was a serious piece of work and father had to step in and prevent his fourth marriage at age 77 to an old prostitute. Our father was more generous and kind to his uncle than any of his own children. All of the great aunts and uncles on the Bulloch side had Uncle Peter's red hair. Great Uncle Walter, our Uncle James and I all have the identical body type of great grandfather Bulloch.

Uncle Alex was an insurance investigator and worked with a team of about ten experts on insurance fraud. But they all hated his guts because he never filed an expense account. He would drive as much as 50 miles towing a small cart and would sleep in the wild and cook his own meals. At home he never put out any garbage, and saved everything. The kids when we stayed with him in 1967 thought he was wonderful with boxes full of things like bottle caps under the beds. He was training his digestive system to process grass and baked scones made with grass and powdered milk.

All of his clothes were size 48's that had been worn by our father and then cut open, trimmed down to a size 42 and sewed up again.

When he died at age 96, he left 1.3 million British pounds to his nephews and nieces.

Our Trip to Ireland (Robert Bulloch)
Janey and I won a trip to Ireland around 1993, the majority of which was to the south. We spent around 3 days in Dublin and 4 days in Limerick. While we were in Dublin we arranged to take the train to Belfast to see our cousin Noeni and Uncle Alex.

The stations in Ireland had no garbage disposals as the IRA used them for bombs. On the train was a real ragged bunch. At the border between the North and South, the train stopped and an announcement was made that there was engine trouble. However the truth was the IRA often planted bombs on the tracks. The two hour wait was rather unsettling. We finally made it to Belfast and got off the train. At the end of the platform was a little old man with a huge rubber raincoat and a helmet. He was holding a card that couldn't be more than 2 inches by 3 inches. It said "Robert Bulloch".

There was uncle Alex in his late 80s or early nineties with his bike dragged up the stairs to the platform. He had made the rubber rain coat. We introduced ourselves to Noeni who was waiting in her BMW in the pouring rain. It was agreed Uncle Alex would bike to her house and then we would all meet up.

Noeni took us all around Belfast and as the IRA was still a threat, all the corners were full of British troops. Noeni, it turned out, worked for the British Medical system and her job was to act as a type of triage for the Catholics who were fighting against the British. She took us through her territory which was never entered by a Protestant except for Noeni. She was well known by everyone. Pretty scary to see it first hand.

She then drove us to the Bulloch house on Maryville Avenue which was being gutted for a dental office. On the mantel was a picture of the John Bulloch family taken many years ago in Toronto.

We then visited Uncle Alex home which was about 8 feet wide and about 30 feet deep. He never turned the heat on and you could see your breath it was so cold. The place was full of his pictures that he had painted. While he constantly talked about the Catholics and the IRA, his latest passion was AIDS, proclaiming loudly that the wages of sin was AIDS.

We have never seen Noeni since and of course Uncle Alec died.

When Grandma Bulloch died, I was 21. Dad took to the funeral. Uncle Alec had about a 20 year old Volkswagen that he loaned me for our time there. I actually dated Noeni a few times in that Volkswagen.

Alex's instructions to me: keep a log of all miles driven and put the car in neutral going down a hill. The car reeked of fumes. Turned out he made his own exhaust pipe with a plastic hose. These are a few memories of our trip.

Noeni (John Bulloch)
Wonderful memories Robert. Noeni is a medical doctor and her husband John Bryers is an opthamologist. Noeni and John threw a party for Mary and I in the late 90s and Ian and Meg joined us because they, by coincidence, were there on a cruise. I was there to give talk to the masters students at Ulster University. Uncle Alex and his cousin Dorothy Hamilton joined us along with Pamela and Fred McDowell. Noeni's dad is our father's first cousin and Pamela is dad's first cousins, They are both about 5 foot ten inches tall and good looking-pure Devons like our dad. Dorothy's mother was grandma Bulloch' sister. But Dorothy was a Hamilton and not a Devon.

Fart (Robert Bulloch)
I'll never forget when Grandpa Bulloch visited us at Richview Avenue. I was 8. I said "fart" to him. He burst out laughing and I had to keep repeating: "fart" "fart" "fart".

Alex and his Grass (Robert Bulloch)
One of Uncle Alex's more interesting inventions was a device that could wash his clothes in a pail. It used a treddle to pump small paddles which were attached to a pulley. Another was a device that would turn the pages of the bible without using his hands. So, while he was eating his grass he could simulaneously wash his clothes and read the Lord's word.

People's Church (Andrew Bulloch)
I remember being left for hours at the Peoples Church Sunday School where Grandma Bulloch was in the choir. The brothers used to tell me stories about a POW who would eat his own feces and drink his own urine.

People's Church 2.0 (Robert Bulloch)
Andrew was totally correct. We WOULD drop Andrew off at the people's church for a free baby sitting. The Church would have these paid wackos describe their experiences living in tiger cages, eating their feces and drinking their urine. I kept worrying about their breath.

The Radio Story (Robert Bulloch)
Andrew wanted me to tell this story about my Plymouth Brethren boyhood.

I was about 19 years old and Dad had just "left" the meeting (church). Or, as they said, had been "withdrawn from". I wasn't sure what that meant but I didn't want to leave as my social life WAS the meeting.

This was around the time when portable radios were being introduced with ear phones.

One Wednesday night at their regular meeting at the Chiropractic College on Bloor street, I put my radio on to CHUM and squeezed the phone in the thin pocket that Bulloch Tailors' jackets had for pens. The brethren were praying and doing their amens when the ear phone fell out of my radio.

At the loudest volume ever, that little radio blared out CHUM 1050 in Toronto!

I died with embarrassment and shortly thereafter the brethren gave me the boots.

However my being "withdrawn from" was not as bad as father's. They accused him of being a Spiritual fornicator.

Gdma's Cooking (Robert Bulloch)
Here's another winner.

Mother was not the greatest cook. I remember one of her meals that was truly gross. Worse than slimy slurps. It was so bad Johnny gave me a nickel if I would eat it. I did and flew down to the basement to throw it up.

While on my knees, our pet hamster that was lost, came out from behind the shower.

Gdma's Cooking 2.0 (John Bulloch)
The hamster story is part of a bigger story. My hobby when I was 14-16 was breeding hamsters, and I built the cages with wood frames and heavy screening.

But during the nights they gnawed away on their wooden cages and one at least got out each night. I learned to put out a piece of newspaper for them to make a nest and a dog biscuit tied to a string to find out where they made they were hiding.

Behind the shower in the basement bathroom where Robert was sick was a favourite hideaway.

When you made a noise they ate their young as rodents do. It is why you can never kill rats. When there is a crop failure, rats do not die off. They eat their young.

It was a favourite stunt of mine to give a pregnant hamster to a friend and create havoc in his home when the young were born.

They could breed about four times a year. You can all tell I was an intellectual young person in my teens.

Gdma's Cooking 3.0 (Michael Bulloch)
Growing up I had a friend that did not get along with his parents at all. He was effectively homeless, poor and starving.

On day I took him to Grandmas for some food.

After politely finishing his no-frills microwaved wieners and simulated crab sticks, he would never return.

Gum (Robert Bulloch)
When I was about 5 or 6, we had bread men and dairy men who delivered their wares with a horse and buggy.

I can remember using a knife to scrape the gum off the street and then chewing it not realizing I was scraping horse shit off the gum!

GDMA (Andrew Bulloch)
I lived with GDMA for a few months while I worked at Sign of the Skier on Yonge St. She was beyond amazing as a room mate. Made me bagels with Carl Buddig cold meats packed in small brown bags usually with a pear for dessert. Pre made our salads for the week and always had a hot meal.

I would leave the light on in the bathroom from time to time and no matter where she was in the condo I would hear an "uh uh uh uh uh uh" and would I would rush to turn it off.

We would sit together by the hour dipping Dads oatmeal cookies into our tea and watching TV.

She was involved in her library at the condo and I learned quite a bit about Judaism which was all foreign to me being from the sticks up north and she referred to me as a "Mensch".

We would drive all over looking for yarn and raw plastic baby's for her baby blanket business and then always have lunch at Zellers, generally fish and chips.

She always liked my singing and she would play St Louis Blues and I would accompany most every night before scrabble. GDMA would always go on about how Uncle Ian was a genius at scrabble. I sucked and she loved to beat me with weird two letter words I had never heard of.

GDMA 2.0 (John Bulloch)
Those are wonderful recollections Andrew and very accurate, from my own memories.

I was over at her place every week when I worked just up the road, and later owned a condo in her building for a short while as well.

When my home came back on my hands after it was sold and I was in a real financial jam paying for our home under construction on Lake Simcoe, it was my mother that bailed me out.

I told mother that as long as I was alive and a family member was in a jam, I would be there just as she had been there for me.