People who’ve influenced me

Bartley McGregor

When I was a boy aged 10 years approximately I met a chap of about the same age named Bartley McGregor. His family in addition to having a large home at the top of the hill also had a colony nest for Purple Martin birds.  One of the hatchlings fell from the nest.  Bartley – who had been looking for the chick before we arrived for a visit – led me to an ancient wooden shed near the colony nest.  There was a slopping boardwalk into the shed.  I looked under the boardwalk and found the chick. When Bartley and I howled into Dr. McGregor’s drawing room to share the news of our find he referred us to his neighbour Nobby Wood, a naturalist who lived next door.  Mr. Wood took one look at the chick and pronounced its doom because there was no way to mount the height of the pole on which the colony nest perched; nor he said could we possibly feed it because it had to be fed constantly. He said the bird ate bugs.  I took the chick home with me and my mother spent a good part of the night by the outside porch lamp collecting bugs and moths to feed the gaping yellow beak of the chick.  The chick thrived. I would take bicycle rides with the chick on my shoulder.  I returned to Mr. Wood and showed him the chick.  He wrote an article about it in the Red Deer Advocate called “Billy’s Bird“.  We agreed it was best to release the chick among the hundreds of other Purple Martins about the property.

Author, Naturalist, 1907- . Kerry Wood, also known as Nobby, began his writing career as a contributor to Edmonton and Red Deer newspapers. He has since produced 19 books; thousands of short stories, columns and articles; and hundreds of radio and televison programs. He has won Governor General’s Awards for Juvenile Fiction for his books The Map-Maker (1955) and The Great Chief (1957) and was awarded the first Vicky Metcalf Award in 1963 for his sustained contribution to Canadian juvenile literature. He has also been recognized for his work as a naturalist, for helping to create 26 wildlife sanctuaries in Western Canada. The University of Alberta granted him an honorary doctorate of laws in 1969.

Tibor Bozay

My favourite teacher in prep school was Dr. Tibor Bozay who I understand was a refugee or renegade from Hungary in or about 1956 before he came to St. Andrew’s College and taught us French in the Fourth Form. His English had all the traces of a military background.  He regularly reminded us in his thick East European accent, “The crucifixion of the Jesus Christ is nothing compared to what the Hell you buggers will be getting!”  Years later when I graduated from the Upper Sixth as Head Boy and on Prize Day won the credit for top marks in French he signed the book I received and made it clear he thought I’d get along Okay. I believe he later became Head Master of another school in Toronto.

Hungary was conquered by the Habsburgs in the 17th century, becoming an equal partner in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1867. Following the collapse of the empire in 1918, Hungary became an independent kingdom. After participation in the Second World War on the Axis side, Hungary was occupied by the Soviet Union, and became a communist state. A liberal reform movement was crushed by Soviet troops in 1956, but the communist system was abandoned in 1989, and the first multiparty elections were held in 1990. Hungary joined NATO in 1999 and the EU in 2004.

Dalton Camp

It was during a debate at Trinity College School that I encountered Mr. Dalton Camp, one of the judges.  He was dressed in a pinstriped charcoal grey suit; his shirt had a white collar and blue stripes; his shirt cuffs were adorned with gold links. His hair had the appearance of having been oiled.  Mr. Camp’s assessment of the performance by the St. Andrew’s team was not entirely favourable.  He significantly pointed out that I, when addressing the matter of the US presence in Vietnam, had suggested that Americans “get the Hell out of there“.  Mr. Camp reminded us all that I had spoken that blasphemous word in what was once a chapel of Trinity College.

Living in Toronto in the 1950s, Camp worked with several public relations firms and through his speaking, organizational, and political abilities was influential during several provincial elections in Canada that saw Progressive Conservative governments elected for the first time in more than a generation. Camp was also instrumental in helping John Diefenbaker, the leader of the federal party, win elections in 1957 and 1958 although he personally mistrusted Diefenbaker. After the PC defeat to Lester Pearson’s Liberals in 1963, Camp sought to reorganize the party, and he became president of the national party the following year.

Tommy Schultz

Tommy Schultz was an unlikely acquaintance in undergraduate studies at Glendon Hall in Toronto. We played squash together and probably shared a class.  Unlike I and most of the others whom I knew at Glendon Hall, Tommy did not live in residence.  He lived nearby on Park Lane Circle. Tommy would invite me to his home where in addition to an indoor pool there was a six-car garage each of which was filled with either a Cadillac or Lincoln – that is, other than the last stable on the right which housed Tommy’s Morris Mini-Minor.  Tom said, “I love the distribution of wealth in this family!

Dalton Caldwell

Dalton Caldwell was a large man with a generous handshake and a ruddy complexion. Because I only saw him dressed in black tie on occasions of Masonic ceremonial proceedings, he had a perpetual air of certitude and importance.  As fellow Freemasons (though from different home lodges) in Ottawa District No. we frequently traveled together about the area visiting other lodges often upon the installation of the newly elected Master. Our ritual matters were invariably followed by “fellowship” in the Lodge anteroom or at the residence of the ruling Master of the Lodge which hosted the event.

During these periods of fellowship the conversation was more often than not restricted to one’s health, the weather and an assessment of the evening’s proceedings.  Seldom did we entertain ourselves with talk of our profession or rumination upon politics or religion. What was however asserted with considerable assurance was what was on tap so to speak. Dalton for example early in our connection expressed a less than casual appetite from whiskey. His devotion to the product was well known. No matter the extent of his alcoholic indulgence Dalton always maintained the appearance of rectitude and propriety (though occasionally with a bit of drift in his comportment)  His much avered quip was when arriving upon an “oasis of refreshment“. It’s a piracy from Masonic ritual but his employment of it when so superbly outfitted always seemed especially appropriate to me.

Not insignificantly I later discovered that Dalton had an original 33rpm album of Shelley Berman.  It was the same album my parents listened to in the 1950s.

In 1957, Berman was hired as a comedian at Mister Kelly’s in Chicago, which led to other nightclub bookings, and a recording contract with Verve Records. His comedy albums earned him three gold records and he won the first Grammy Award for a spoken comedy recording. Berman appeared on numerous television specials and all of the major variety shows of the day.