I Remember
Aunts & Uncles


I had three sets of uncles and aunts.
Most of them are now dead (this is November 2016).


I had a first generation uncle, Earl Bawtinheimer, my Mother's brother . He was killed in 1941 in a a plane crash in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia during World War Two while serving as a Sgt. Pilot with the RCAF, age 22.


Potruff clan:

Phylis,  Hazel, Lorne, Harold, Lilly, Myrta l,
Archie
(taken in living room of Butter's home)

The other first generation aunt was Elsie Summerlin. my divorced father's  sister.  Her husband was Ernest. The Summerlins lived on South Oval, in the Westdale district of Hamilton, a couple of blocks from my home at 20 Barclay Street. Elsie and my grandmother Myrtle were great pals, Ralph and I were often at their home, and there only child, Ruthie, was are closest cousin.  Ruthie, who later became a cheerleader for Wesdale high school team.  Ralph and her remained good friends until his untimely death.Uncle Ernest was a gentle soul,  he owned a tire store and employed my  father , who had remarried and had two girls.

 Ernest was a good 8 mm cameraman and used his  camera to record faimily scenes. Sadly, he was to taking his own life by hanging  himself in  the family garage. Ruthie found his body.



Aunt Elsie Summerline


Uncle Ernest Summerlin

On my grandmother Bawtinheimer's side was the Potruff aunts and uncles. They were raised on the family farm on Fiddlersj Green Road in Ancaster. There were six Potruff children: Harold,Lorne, Myrtle, Lilly, Hazel and Phylis. A third son, Wilfred,  died in his teens or early 20s of a communicable disease. It might have been diphtheria or influenza (My grandmother, Wilfred's sister, had tears in her eyes when she told me of the time Wilfred offered her a candy from his sickbed.  She was afraid to eat it and held it secretly, melting in her hand,  ashamed of her action.)

Hazel married Bill Butter. Lillian married Wilbur Whaley, Phylis married Ted Clancy, Lorne married Ethel and Myrtle  married Peter Bawtinheimer.

Bill, Harold and Wilbur were  farmers all there lives.  Lorne was a carpenter who lived in a house carved out from the Potruff farm land. Peter was a farmer during the 1st World War
( on Governor's Road in Dundas, where the farmhouse but not the farm still exists) and owned a small fleet of dump trucks in Westdale, Hamilton most of his working life.

One interesting fact about Ted Clancy. He was a tail gunner in the First World War, having joined the RAF in his young teens. This is something you would have never guessed. judging from his somewhat rotund, bland manner.  He once visited me in!London, England and I wished I had asked  him more about his wartime experiences. As I recall, he even invited me to visit First World War sites in Europe but I thought it too boring.

After the Potruff farm and the Summerlin, my favourite family to visit as a child was the Whaley farm, across the road from Mount Hope airport ( now John Munro Airport). I was very comfortable with my Aunt Lilly and Uncle Wilbur.  They had two sons, Raymond and Murray. (The house, which was inherited by Murray, was eventually torn down).  Raymond, who ended up as an insurance executive in Toronto, was a bit older than me,  Murray was older still. One strong wartime memory  of the Whaley farm was crossing the road to get closer view of the Commonwealth Training planes (I believe they were Harvards) taking off and landing at the airfield. I also remember catching wild kittens in the barn and trying to tame them, drinking milk straight from the cow and sitting in a tree beside the farm house  eating apples with with salt from a salt shaker.

Uncle Wilbur had a largish herd of  I dairy cattle and I remember their "milk house" where the cream was separated from the milk. Aunt Lilly raised chickens, for eggs and for meat. I can remember taking part in a mass killing  and feather-picking of chickens in the back of the barn. They were boiled in a huge cauldron so the feathers would come out more easily.

Aunt Lilly may have sold them on the old Hamilton outdoor market. ( I definitely remember my Great Grandmother Bawtinheimer, of Dundas, having a stand at the outdoor Market), and I remember Aunt Hazel  delivering farm products to the house on Barclay Street (blocks of ice were delivered to the house from the back of open trucks).

Remember. we are talking about the World War II era and had just come of the Great Depression of the 1930s.  We lived in a kind of time warp.  Time had stopped.

Ice boxes were the norm, electrification was delayed and had not arrived in the countryside, farm homes were lite by oil lamps, radios ran on huge batteries, phonographs were wound up, pianos were popular,roads  were still graveled, horses were much more common than tractors, and there were split-rail fences everywhere. Water came from a hand-pumped well that stood in the garden just outside the side porch. I remember it was my great grandfather's job to keep the house supplied with water.

Hazel and Bill Butters had three children: Eileen, Bobby and Joan. They lived on Butter Road (now sadly torn down) and had a herd if dairy cows. I enjoyed this family but never wanted to stay there as I did with Aunt Lilly. Perhaps they seemed too boisterous. I remember being driven to the Butter farm to spend the night, and refusing to leave the car.  This despite coaxing from my cousins.  In truth, I was something of a "mommy's boy" and not yet ( the independence of London was still far away) very adventurous. Bobby became a business executive with International Harvester, Eileen became a Miss Canada beauty queen and Joan was  a
Post Mistrss and farmer's wife.

Phylis was the most lively of  my aunts. She was a great story teller in a family of story tellers and laughed easily. She was slightly older than my Mother, Lorine, they were good friends when they were young, but Phylis used to rub it in that she was Mom's aunt. She drank a lot and probably died of alcoholism. My mother did no approve and she and her husband, Arthur Bedwell shunned her in later life (Mom  and much preferred the rather straight -laced, prim and proper Aunt Lilly).

I will always appreciate Phylis and Ted coming to the TH&B railway station in Hamilton to bid me farewell on the first leg of my trip to in Britain ( via NY City and the The Queen Elizabeth).