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The Bossin Story: One Hundred Years in the Making

by Allen Bossin

Close your eyes. Think of a scene from Fiddler on the Roof. By no stretch of the imagination, you can place 50 year-old Yehuda Leib Bossin among the village folk in 1889. The village, ashtetl named Brusilov, sits only 75 kilometres (45 miles) to the west, southwest, of Kiev in the Ukraine. That part of Russia changed rulers every few generations from Prussians to Russians to Poles to Germans and back to Russians. Changes often brought political unrest and that often led to unbearable poverty and discontent. But some things never changed. Brusilov, a town of 6,500 people, had clusters of clay-walled, earthen-floored, thatched roof dwellings harbouring several Jewish families along the river. In fact, there were 3,500 Jews in Brusilov, more than half of the population. They were typically the roofers, carpenters, tailors and shop owners often serving the gentile world in return for produce from the local farmers. The gentile population variably loved and hated their Jewish neighbours. It could have been a tax decreed by the latest ruler, or a natural disaster such as a flood or poor harvest, or even the untimely death of a local gentile. Whenever a scapegoat was needed, the Jews could count on a pogrom sweeping through the area.

Yehuda Bossin was a glazier. He replaced windows and frames in houses throughout the local villages and countryside. Little is known about his early years and nothing is known of his parents, other than his father’s name, Issachar. In mid 19th century Russia, intermittent pogroms left villages without Jews, parents without siblings, children without parents. History records Jewish orphanages spread throughout the country. Yehuda may have called one home until he was able to fend for himself. Another rumour has him being raised by strict and cruel grandparents or stepparents. We know he had a sister named Bussy, who eventually had a son and two daughters and settled in Chicago.

Picture Yehuda in the waning years of the century, in long black robe, black hat, thick black beard and payes curling down his ears where sideburns should be. He wore the Orthodox garb of the day as he loaded his cart with panes of glass, wood frames and the tools of his trade early Monday morning and headed into the countryside. His sons, Zussman, born in 1866, and Mottel, born 9 years later, were taught the trade and had carts of their own. They would all set off in different directions, not to return until Friday morning, in time to celebrate a joyous Shabbat with their large and growing family. Stern and deeply religious, Yehuda, the ultimate patriarch, made sure there would be no activities during Shabbat, other than congregating at the local shul. The routine had probably changed little in the past 250 years. Jews had lived in Brusilov as far back as 1622. They were wiped out in the Chmielnicki massacres of 1648-1649, but became re-established within the next 75 years. By 1787 there were 523 Jews and the population continued to grow.

The large single-level Bossin home housed Yehuda and his wife Surah Leah, their sons Zussy and Mottel and daughters Chaya Gitel and Dvora Freidel. By the late 1890’s, Zussy and his wife Dvora had their own four young children, Chaika, Annie, Morris (Moe) and Becky living in the house too. Becky, the youngest, was born in 1898 and her mother died just four years later. The warmth of a close family unit contrasted the reality of a hard mud floor, a lack of curtains and a flowing river almost surrounding the sprawling house. There was an oven that stretched the length of the dining room and provided all the heat for the house. Mottel and his wife Malka (or Mollie, nee Weisberg or Wiseberg) had their children Gertie (1895), Ethel (1898), Barney (1900) and Fay (1902). The women would bake enough buns and breads every Friday morning to last one whole week. There was no electricity, no running water. In fact, for bathing the youngsters, the women used those old galvanized washbasins many of us can remember to this day. One such basin was used for soaping and the other for rinsing. The street they lived on was located at the edge of the Jewish section near the bridge that bi-sected the village. Across the street, 8 Jewish homes stretched to a park and then there was a church, followed by the gentile section of homes not much better off than those in the Jewish section.

For the most part, there was peace in the village. In fact, when there was trouble, it usually came from marauding bands of gentiles from other villages. Oddly enough, the local gentiles tended to protect their own Jews, or at least avoid participating in their persecution. We are told that the only damage was the odd broken window in someone else’s house. However, there was the constant fear of worse happenings. Around 1900, Russia was about to go to war with Japan, and the unrest among the commoners was vented by uprisings against the Jews of Russia. Word spread throughout the village that a large, angry band of peasants from a distant village had set out for Brusilov to wreak havoc. Surah Leah got everyone dressed up and into their winter coats ready to flee into the woods. Perhaps it was luck, perhaps it was a local Jewish partisan fighter, but the leader of the invading peasant troopers, said to be a priest, fell off his horse and broke his leg. There was such a fuss in the village as the crowd tried to help him through his ordeal that the pogrom never really got off the ground.

Yehuda probably decided right then and there to start the plans for the family to leave Russia.

The next question was where should the Bossin family settle? What did they really know about the world beyond Kiev? Among many restrictive laws Jews were prohibited from going to school so, many of the villagers could not read nor write. However, that had never stopped Zussy, and his friend Max Narofsky, from learning. Zussy was a very clever, well-versed man. He and Max were the only two Jewish kids in the village who could read and write. On a typical Shabbat afternoon, Zussy would read stories and current events from the Kiev Yiddish weekly newspaper to the Jews of Brusilov, including father Yehuda. Zussy once had a poem published in that paper. He read about a new movement to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine. It was said that the leader of the Zionist movement, Theodore Herzl himself, once visited the village raising money for the cause. In fact, Zussy bought a Palestine Bond for about $5 dated 1900 that remained in the family for future generations to enjoy. Celia Bossin was last known to have had the original bond that no one ever wanted to cash in. Perhaps we would have immigrated to Palestine, had another event not interfered.

War was finally declared with Japan. Zussy, a talented drummer now in his mid thirties, was unlikely to be recalled into the Russian army that was recruiting many young people from local villages. Zussy and Mottel hated the Czar, the Cossacks, and Russia in general. Surah Leah had put up with Zussy being in the army once, but she could not bear the thought of him serving again, unlikely as that might be. More importantly, if Zussy went then Mottel would likely follow, and losing Mottel, her favourite son, in a senseless war was something Surah Leah could not bear thinking about. The Canadian government had been encouraging young Russians to come over and settle in their developing country established not 50 years earlier and Max Narofsky had a relative living in Toronto. One night, Max and Zussy were smuggled out of the country, possibly in a cart under a load of vegetables, hay or clothing. The Russians kept poor records in those days and the young men were not missed. Somehow they boarded a ship bound for Canada and likely landed in Halifax, at Pier 21 with most of the other Jewish immigrants of that time.

So began our history in North America. The record-keepers became the third generation, Becky, Morris (Moe) and Arthur being Zussy’s offspring, and Fay and Ethel, Mottel’s offspring. Understandably, this leaves too little information for this publication on Zussy and Mottel’s sisters Dvora Freidel and Chaya Gitel and their families.

We do know that Chaya Gitel was very much a liberated woman, in favour of equal rights for her gender, a theme that resonated through the next generation of Bossin women. Such thoughts were very radical in the early part of the 20th Century in Russia. Chaya Gitel married a Jewish British army officer and moved to England. Unfortunately the marriage failed after 4 or 5 years and she returned to the shtetl, Brusilov with her young son Sam. Divorce was quite a scandal in those days. Back in Russia, she traveled to Kiev to work as a domestic, leaving Mottel’s wife, Mollie, to look after Sam. Apparently, Chaya Gitel was well sought after for her fortune telling abilities. She used cards and once warned Zussy to “save your money because you will need it to leave Russia. Something very serious, perhaps war will break out soon.” Not so long after, Russia and Japan were at war and Zussy was making plans for his family to leave Russia. As for Chaya Gitel, she later married Lazar Hershoran in Toronto. Lazar had children from a previous marriage, but together Chaya and Lazar had three more children. Eventually, however, this marriage did not last and the two separated, putting pressure on Mollie and the others to help look after Chaya Gitel’s kids.

Chaya’s son, Sam, felt such a strong Bossin bonding that he grew up and kept the Bossin name as his surname for life. Sam married Rose Chickofsky and had five children, Sue, twin sons Harry and Mac, Yetta and Mollye. At some point, they all moved to Cleveland.

Another of Chaya’s children, Doris Risman also told fortunes, often from tea leaves. She once told Fay that she was going to move soon and that was the time Fay and Lou were already negotiating for their house on Richview. They had not told a soul about their plans, yet Doris inexplicably knew.

Our elders, saw patterns of personal behaviour begin to develop: Zussy and his side of the family tree appeared to be blessed with superior intellect and a real flair and appreciation for the arts. Mottel and his offspring did not lack intelligence of their own, but stressed athleticism as well. But then Zussy’s son Hye was a boxer as well as an intellect; and Mottel’s great-grandchildren were the first Bossins to become doctors.

We know Zussy was a talented drummer, a clever, self-taught student of written Russian, Yiddish and English, and a glazier. During his earlier stint in the Russian army he was acclaimed as the army’s best drummer. In fact there was a prize to be awarded for his winning a drumming contest, but when the judges found out he was Jewish, the prize was denied. In later years, our uncles fondly recall Zussy absent-mindedly drumming expertly with his fingertips as he read. A glazier like his father, he was equally well known as a talented carpenter. Apparently the house built by the Bossins in Russia was quaint, almost fairy tale-like despite new additions every time the family unit expanded with new spouses and children. A unique array of glasswork was incorporated above each of the doors and windows.

When Zussy married his first wife Dvora Slaposnick back in Russia, the Bossin family was well known as tradesmen earning a living with their hands. Dvora came from a family of Torah studiers, a somewhat loftier “profession” for Jews of the day. Her family did not want her to marry a man, who toiled for a living, but her father died young and the widow had a tough time making ends meet and coming up with a satisfactory dowry to attract a man of the Torah. Dvora’s brothers had left Russia and eventually settled in Argentina. So Dvora settled for Zussy and together they had Chaika, Annie, Morris and Becky while still in the old country. Unfortunately, at a relatively young age, Dvora passed away before the Bossin family left Russia.

Mottel’s courtship and marriage to Malka in Russia is recalled fondly and with some humour. Max and Mollie, as they were known, came together through the village shadhan, the matchmaker or marriage broker. Following customs of the time, the parents of the couple met with the shadhans and the bride and the groom were not supposed to meet until the ceremony. But Mottel daringly sneaked into the neighbouring village where Mollie lived and peaked at her while she was out walking. Mottel’s best friend had accompanied him and the friend fell madly in love with Mollie immediately. Soon everyone in the village was talking about Mottel’s friend. That caused quite a scandal, but the marriage of Mottel and Mollie proceeded anyway. As the story goes, Mottel and his friend remained best of friends and even journeyed to Canada together before sending for Mollie and the rest of the family shortly after getting established. Mottel must have had many friends in Russia. When his two years of service in the army were about to begin a friend, Haim Reevan Yarmalinski, stepped in and assumed Mottel’s name to serve in the army so Mottel could escape to Canada.

Speaking of friends, as we know when Zussman came to Canada, his best friend, Max Narofsky, accompanied him and remained a lifelong companion. In fact, it was because Max had a cousin in Toronto that the two of them settled in Toronto. Many, many years later, when Zussman died, Narofsky arranged to buy the next cemetery plot so he could be by his friend even in death.

Picture the North American world our Family faced in 1904. The average life expectancy was 47; only 14 percent of homes had a bathtub; the entire United States had only 8,000 cars and there were only 144 miles of paved roads in that country. Toronto was called Hogtown because of the parade of pigs trudging the mucky streets to market. The average wage was 22 cents an hour and the average worker only earned between $200 and $400 per year. More than 95% of all births took place at home. Most women only washed their hair once a month and used borax or egg yolks for shampoo. Canada passed a law prohibiting poor people from entering the country for any reason. The five leading causes of death, in descending order, were pneumonia and influenza, tuberculosis, diarreaha, heart disease and stroke. Crossword puzzles, canned beer and ice tea had not yet been invented and there was no Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. One in ten adults could not read or write and only 6 percent of all Canadians had graduated from High School. On the other hand, you could go to the local drug store and buy marijuana, heroin and morphine over the counter. In the entire US, there were only 230 reported murders.

The Bossin family quickly settled into Toronto’s Jewish centre, once again a large family under one roof. Zussman came, and then Mottel and then the two brothers sent for the rest of their family. Sam, Becky, Moe and Annie came first. Zussman being the eldest sent for his family first. The travel agents representing shipping companies sold the tickets to the Bossin brothers partly on credit. They would have to find work in the new country to pay off the tickets over time. Finally, when their tickets were all paid up, the other family members could be sent over to Toronto. It took about a year for Mottel’s family to follow Zussman’s over. By the time Yehuda and Surah Leah arrived, several of their own grandchildren were meeting their grandparents for the very first time.

Yehuda, now over 60 years old, eked out a living pushing carts throughout the city and countryside repairing windows and glass just as he did in Russia. In fact Yehuda went well into his 70s plying his trade still wearing his traditional black Orthodox garb. Children would throw fruit at him and taunt him. A not uncommon scene had Yehuda running at full speed down the street after some youngster shouting in Yiddish, a black blur to the onlookers.

Think of the anticipation and the excitement in the house amongst the grandchildren, some of who had never met Yehuda and Surah until they came to Toronto. Fay had fond memories of her grandmother in Russia, but recalls the initial shock of seeing Surah in Canada, her fully shaven scalp covered in a kerchief in the Orthodox tradition. She was short and round and wore a big apron with deep pockets for candies for the kids. Soon, Fay thought Surah was the absolute greatest person she knew, so lovable, kind and considerate of others around her. Many of our Bossin women whose names start with “S”, like Shirley, are named after Surah Leah.

When Mottel arrived, he had a hard time finding employment. He decided to shave his beard, upsetting Mollie to no end. As if that were not bad enough, however, Mottel’s eventual employment took him all the way to Brantford. After a year they moved to Toronto on Centre Avenue where four cottages faced a common backyard and one common outhouse. Mottel went on to be a carpenter, a fruit peddler, a coal oil distributor, a builder of homes, a junk peddler, a wholesale fruit market proprietor and eventually he had a food store on Queen Street. He had a fruit stand in Toronto’s first mall on College between Clinton and Grace. Fred Grossman, who married Ethel’s daughter Shirley, recalls his father having a stall there too. As the kids grew up they left school early, to find work. Their earnings were delivered to Mollie to look after the family financings. The early years were very difficult. Jenny and Abe were two infants born to Mollie that died in 1907 of an epidemic that spread through the community. Jenny, only 3, and Abe, not a year old were buried in a common grave. Mollie did not want to have any more children, but there was no birth control and Sid, Bob and Aubie were born despite Mollie’s desire not to have more kids. Soon, the second eldest daughter, Ethel, left school to work in the store. The family was constantly on the move. We lived on Kensington Ave., St. Andrews, Oxford St., Nassau St., Queen St. and then finally Montrose Ave.

Mottel’s day would start at about 4:00 a.m. Wholesale fruit trucking businesses required a drive out to farms near Burlington and the purchase of produce from the farmers. That was followed by a drive to Kensington Market to sell about half the food purchased from the farmers. Finally, he was off to sell the other half to the Humber Wholesale Produce Department. He handled all of his produce on consignment because he was so trustworthy.

Becky, Moe and Annie (Zussman’s kids) lived with Fay (Mottel’s family) for some time and Surah moved in with them all on Chestnut Street. There was no indoor plumbing. Every Friday after noon the kids had to have a bath to get ready for Shabbat. Surah used to boil water on the stove to use for the bath. Fay remembers Surah brushing Fay’s long hair and then braiding it very, very tight so that it would not come undone on Saturday, lest her mother would have to fix it on Shabbat.

When Yehuda and Surah Leah moved into their own house, Surah Leah would often pluck feathers to make pillows for the kids. The feathers were from geese. There were two galvanized washtubs. One with the feathers and one after the stems of the feathers had been plucked off and just the down remained. She did this for hours and hours. They lived on Bay Street just below Dundas on the southeast side of the street. Yehuda and Surah Leah lived at that house for years. Then Surah Leah became ill and was eventually infirmed at Riverdale hospital. As their mother was dying, Zussman and Mottel argued over where she should be buried. She passed away in 1912, a victim of cancer. Surah Leah was about 72 the same age as Yehuda at that time. The brothers’ argument became so heated that the two of them refused to talk to each other for years.

Mottel left the synagogue the Bossins had been attending and formed his own, the Kiever Shul, a very famous Toronto landmark to this day. Fay remembers sitting Shiva as family and friends of Mottel began to organize the Kiever Shul. The men rented a shack on Centre Avenue between Dundas and Armoury Street. That was the first synagogue. Other people that came from Brusilov and similar villages near Kiev wanted a synagogue of their own, and that was how it started. Zussman wanted no part of this new synagogue. He was already a big shot at the other Russian synagogue in the city. The Russian shul probably had 200 members who congregated in quite a large building. Yehuda went with Mottel to the new shul. There was no rabbi, but there were enough learned men to conduct a service. They eventually raised enough money to build a new synagogue at Bellevue and Dennison where the shul still sits and was eventually restored by the Canadian Jewish Congress. As his grown up children would later lament, Mottel built the shul brick by brick but never spent any money on new shoes for the kids!!

It seems that Mottel and Mollie took on all the kids of Zussman because his first wife Dvora had passed away. All of Dvora’s kids, Becky, Moe, Anne and Chaika were under 12 years old. Mollie raised all these kids. Zussman did not marry for a while and therefore, the four kids became very close to Mottel and Mollie. Then, Zussman married Chava and they had children very quickly, seven in all. Chava was a wonderful person, but she could ill afford time for Becky, Annie and Moe what with so many of her own kids to look after. So her three stepchildren kept going to see Mollie after school. Mollie would wash their hair and their clothes, iron the clothes and feed the kids. Zussy did not like this and demanded the kids stay with Chava to help out with the growing family. Chaika, the eldest of the three, rebelled, and decided to permanently leave when she was about 12 years old. Mottel and Mollie agreed to take her in, but Zussy wanted her to come back. The two brothers were very hard, stubborn and old fashion people. We are not certain whether it was this feud or the one over the Kiever Shul or Surah Leah’s burial that led to them not talking to each other for almost 15 years.

Yehuda Leib was tall and sturdy and a very hard taskmaster. What he said was law. He had also been a bookbinder by profession in the old country. When his glazier days were over in Toronto, he took to rebinding old Siddurs and prayer books. Yehuda worked in his home in Toronto at a bench by the window for light, using big clamps to hold down the books. He would glue them down and stitch them with string. Surah Leah used to sit on the other side of the room with the two tubs of feathers. She always greeted the kids warmly, offering abundant and varied foods: bagels, buttercups, candy and buns. The house had an outhouse, no inside plumbing. There was a wood stove. Wood and coal were sold by the bag. The cooking stove heated the whole house. Because their place was just one room, it was not hard to keep too warm. After Surah died Yehuda wanted to stay in the house and he did for a few months. Then one day he fell asleep with a cigarette in his mouth. He had a long beard and his beard caught on fire and the cigarette fell onto the bed and the bed caught on fire. Yehuda was fortunate to get out alive, but he lost every thing in the house. Thus he was forced to live with one of his children.

He first lived with Chaya Gitel (Hershorn) who was the elder daughter. Dvora Freidel, the other daughter, had married Aaron Harris and moved to California. But Yehuda hated Chaya’s new husband. Chaya must have remarried, although she did not have any more kids with the new marriage. Unable to tolerate Chaya’s new husband, Yehuda soon moved out and into Mottel’s house. Mottel had 13 children living in the house. Yehuda wanted the children to keep quiet all the time and he was tough on his grandchildren. Fay was scared of Yehuda. He would give Fay a penny and pinch her for love on the cheek, but it was a pinch so hard that Fay would be black and blue. Yehuda would tease before giving the penny. He lived there for almost a year. The older kids, Moe and Becky, often fought with Yehuda and eventually Yehuda moved to Harris’s home (on Stephanie Street). Harris had sold a house and had the money to keep him. Yehuda never went back to bookbinding after the fire, instead he went back to glazing and he worked till he died. When he was about 75, a few years after Surah died, Mottel suggested Yehuda remarry. Yehuda was very annoyed with Mottel, saying he was too old. But while on Stephanie Street at age 90 he did marry another women and he said those last 5 years were the best years of his life. He died at age 95.

When Zussy came to Toronto, he used his carpentry talents to team up with a friend working for a wheeler-dealer who built and renovated houses. After working particularly hard on the first project, the two friends went looking for their compensation only to find the boss had taken off with all the money. This experience left a terrible taste with Zussy; some time later a nail snapped and struck him in the eye, leaving him blind in one eye. Around 1917 he pretty well gave up carpentry. To make ends meet, Zussy opened a store that acquired older goods in need of repair and, using his carpentry skills, he restored the goods and resold them. Often thieves would try to fence stolen goods at the store. Zussy would not know what was stolen or not, but he was required to keep detailed records. Being very well read, he taught himself not only how to speak and read English, but also how to write English. Few people from Europe and Russia ever mastered the writing stage. He would often express amazement to customers that the word knife started with “k”. One of the people who frequented the store and conversed with Zussman was the Chief Justice of Ontario, Sir William Mullock. He would visit almost every day from Osgoode on his daily constitutional and he was very impressed with Zussman’s intelligence. It was surprising to hear how much Zussman knew of other religions, especially Christianity, even though he had co-founded a synagogue in Toronto. Zussman had respect for Jesus’ teaching and the Christian world’s Jewish background. Funnily enough, his son Art and his Jewish friends had learned to spit every time the word Jesus was spoken, so Art and his brothers were shocked to hear how an Orthodox Jew could have so much respect for Jesus. Zussman established moral standards for his kids despite the atmosphere in Toronto. He was respected in the community and was sought after for his opinion. He was a leader. He was also a writer, regularly contributing columns to the Jewish papers in New York. Shalom Alechem was one of the contemporary writers in those same publications.

Chava, Zussman’s second wife, had left her first husband because he was disappointed that she could not bear him any children. Well, Chava soon had seven children of her own with Zussy: Dave, Hye, Art, Celia, Sadie, Sally and Bessie. Chava was a warm person, a wonderful cook who enjoyed her pet cat and dog roaming in the kitchen. She would help anyone anytime. All sacrificing, she raised Zussy’s kids from his first wife Dvora, as well as her own. Chava was nothing like the media typically describes the Jewish immigrant housewife. Barely five feet tall and almost as wide she loved going out with her friends, often to see movies. In her later years, she was slowing down a bit and less willing to leave home. Her son Art tells the humorous story about Chava’s first venture to the West Coast. You see Art was a success in Hollywood and he managed to convince Chava to fly to California for a visit. Well, the TWA flight had all sorts of problems and she arrived at 5:00 a.m. instead of the scheduled 9:00 p.m. the evening before. But Chava was a hit with the stewardesses. They went out of their way to keep her happy, offering her sandwiches seemingly forever. In fact every time they looked, Chava had finished the last sandwich and the stewardesses would provide another. She told them the sandwiches tasted great. When Art settled her down in his house in L.A., she opened her purse and it was full of sandwiches still in their wrappers. Chava naturally thought the stewardesses had just prepared the sandwiches personally in the galley and, being her polite self, could not refuse to take one. When the stewardesses were not looking she quickly stashed them in her purse. Being Orthodox, she could not eat the sandwiches that may contain ham or mix milk and meat. Chava only ate kosher food.

The Bossins first lived in a house at York and Richmond in downtown Toronto. The neighbourhood was crowded and everyone seemed to live in poverty. There was crime and violence all around, yet the young Bossins of the first quarter of the century have only good memories of playing baseball, stealing bananas from the street food stalls and hiding near the freight cars. Each ethnic group had its territory and its gangs. The Jewish kids often had to defend themselves against the Poles, the Irish or the Italians. So they learned how to box. Hye Bossin could have become a pro boxer, in brother Art’s opinion. Hye once fought a local Italian strong-boy named Tony Bananas. Apparently it was a classic battle that lasted over half an hour. The fight ended with Hye picking up the Italian and lifting him over a wire fence then dumping him down a light well.

Baseball was the favourite activity of the day. Harry Sniderman was the first great Jewish athlete in Toronto. Most of the Jewish ball teams were playing in Christie Pits against teams of Italians and other ethnic groups. If a game ended in a tie, there could be a fight to settle things. Everyone had a bat to defend himself. Willie Gold, Moe Bossin and others played. The parents hated baseball and thought the kids should be out selling papers to earn money instead. Zussman wanted the boys to go to work as soon as they could, not play baseball. He was shocked to hear that Babe Ruth made $50,000 playing baseball.

Like the other poor kids in the neighbourhood, the Bossin boys would sell newspapers at busy intersections in the downtown core. If you had one of the better corners, especially one with an awning that protected you from sun or rain, you’d better know how to defend yourself because there was always someone looking to take over your location. Art Bossin remembers winning a medal for newspaper sales and newspaper boy boxing all in one week.

The only one the Bossin kids feared was their father. If it were not for Zussy, they may have turned out to be like the Purple gang, a notorious gang of thugs based in Detroit. The Purple gang thrived during the Depression, carrying on bootlegging activities that spread to downtown Toronto. Zussy would have none of that and he wore a leather belt, an inch wide and loose so he could whip it off in no time and lash out at one of his boys. Playing baseball instead of selling newspapers could bring the leather to bear. Once Art had broken his leg while being chased over a fence. He was supposed to stay home and convalesce, but he heard about a baseball game going on across the street. They needed one more player and so he left the house to play right field. Zussy, returning from work, glimpsed Art playing ball and took off after him. Art somehow struggled over a fence and got away. He stayed away from home till after 11 p.m. when he knew Zussy would be asleep. His mom, Chava, opened the gate and let Art in. But Zussy did not forget: Art got his rightful punishment first thing in the morning.

So the boys played baseball, sold papers and fought the Irish in the streets. But what was the fancy of the young Bossin women? Yehuda Leib’s granddaughter Fay, met Lou at age 17, Lou was 19. They lived within a couple of blocks of each other. Lou’s family owned a grocery store on Queen and Lou worked there after school. For entertainment, the boys had a club and the club rented a dance room each weekend. Records were played and they danced the fox trot and waltzes. Fay and Lou dated for 4 years and wanted to get married. But, by Jewish custom, a girl could not get married before her older sister. So Fay introduced her older sister Ethel to Lou’s brother Moe and guess what followed. As we all know, two brothers married two sisters and lived happily ever after.

Fay talks about moving from gaslights to electricity. She remembers how exciting it was to move into a house at about 14 years of age, and flick a switch to have a light go on. The stove was still coal. It had pipes leading outside and thus the room was clean inside. The telephone seemed to come as the next big thing in the house about a year later. Fay was beyond herself with excitement. Then streetcars were commonplace in the streets, and soon everyone started having cars. Just after getting married, Fay got her own electric stove, something her mother never had. Speaking of Mollie, unfortunately, she was diabetic. She was treated with insulin and this kept her alive longer. Doctors Best and Banting were just introducing insulin to human subjects and Mollie was taking 3 shots a day. Mottel had to inject her.

Mollie also had a heart condition and was in a wheelchair for almost 10 years. She spent the last year of her life in bed. When Fay knew she was going to finally pass away, she was relieved more than anything else so she would not have to suffer anymore. She had had 11 children to look after, had lost a leg to diabetes, but was very much loved. Mottel stayed home in his later years to look after her.

On Montrose, Mollie always had a basement full of pickles being dilled, sauerkraut being made and a keg of cherry whiskey they called vishnick. But most important, there were always one or two barrels of wine in preparation for Passover in the spring. The youngest child, Aubie, recalls just how poor they were even as he was growing up. He would go to school for the week, with only prunes and rye bread to carry him through the day. But then came Friday nights. Somehow, there was always enough money for the traditional chicken soup and matzo balls, and then Saturday dinner was simply fruit and sour cream with rye bread and fresh kimel. At Purim, Mollie baked Hamentashin. After dinner they loved to play cards; once in a while, Mollie enjoyed a good poker game. Her children had fond memories of Sunday visits to see Mollie and Mottel on Montrose even in those last several years that Mollie was confined to a wheelchair.

Fay recalls her generation of the Bossins not being particularly religious but they loved all the customs and the Jewish holidays. She started her marriage with a kosher house, but slowly adapted to less religion but more tradition and this is what brought the family together and kept them together. The children would light the candles and say the blessings and spend quality time with their elders. Friday night dinners with the children and grandchildren continued till Fay got sick. Easily 20 people would gather virtually every Friday night. When Fay was ill her two daughters carried on the tradition, one week Carole, the next Elaine. Honesty, family loyalty, kindness and understanding were the most important values to Fay in life.

As domestic as the first generation of Canadian Bossin women were, their brothers and male cousins were full of adventure and forced to adapt to the changing world around them. For example, Moe went overseas in WWI and then came back to Toronto, but did not stay home for very long. You see, while he was in the army, his pay was accumulating in Toronto and Chava made sure to put it in the bank, safely away from Zussy’s envious reach. Zussy would surely have spent at least some of the money. By the time he returned from the war, there was a pretty tidy sum. Chava gave Moe the money, thinking he would use it to start a business or some other worthwhile venture. Instead, Moe spent his first few days at the racetrack and lost it all in fairly short order. You can imagine Zussy’s reaction. Moe left immediately for Detroit and then California, never returning to Zussy’s house.

Moe’s older sister Chaika, also known as Ida, was married and gave birth to her first child in her early 20s, but she died giving birth. Chaika was beautiful and she treated her cousin Fay very well, even though she may have been 18 years older than Fay. Because she lived with Mottel and Mollie both before and after her marriage, Fay remembers Chaika well. She married a man named Shulman who lived with the Bossins for several years after Chaika died. The child was eventually put into a home and died in the home. Shulman later went to Detroit to live. Fay does not know why the child was put into a home.

Moe and Chaika’s sister Annie married Jack Slavin when she was very young, 16 or 17, just after Chaika died. This was still before WWI. Jack was a flashy, sporty guy who had a motorcycle when no one else did. Jack had money, which the Bossins did not have. Annie was kind; Jack was domineering. He was a gambler and Annie had little influence on his habits. She kept going back to him despite his misgivings. They had 3 children. One, Albert, was killed in WWII. The other 2, Sid and Daisy lived in Chicago and then moved to Florida. Annie lived in Chicago following Jack’s hasty departure from Canada amidst some controversial business dealings. They moved in the early 1930s with their teenage children. After Albert was killed, near the end of the war, Jack and Annie went to Florida. Jack was very bitter that Albert had to fight for the US when he was a Canadian. But Albert wanted to go. Albert’s wife did remarry.

And then there was Becky, the youngest of Zussy’s children with Dvora. Becky was born in April 1898 and her mother died when she was 4 years old. She came to Canada in January 1905 and was brought up in a poor home. She moved with her sister when she was 12 or 13 into her aunt and uncle’s home. She was a big reader and under the influence of her older sister Annie, who was a socialist, she became one too. In 1911 or 1912 she marched with her sister in a parade in support of labour. She attended lectures and went to work at 14 to support herself. Politics was not really discussed in the Bossin house. Then cousin Gertie got married and Becky married Max London and both girls joined a group of Communists. Mottel was very upset but could not do anything about it because they were married. The other kids never really cared because they were not very much interested in politics.

Married at 20, Becky soon gave birth to Teddy, but Teddy died in an accident at age 3. Julius London was born in August 1921. The marriage to Max was not a good one. Neither one was to blame; they just couldn’t get along together. Becky was a member of the communist party that started a Jewish section in 1922. After 9 years with Max, she left him and married Sam Lapedes in 1927. Sam was married and a labour union leader when he met Becky. He was also a socialist and it seemed inevitable that Sam and Becky would find more things in common than either had with their former spouses. They led a very interesting and happy life together for the next 37 years and Becky gave birth to daughter Shayndel with Sam. Becky worked at a factory in sportswear and Sam was a union worker for 20 years and built a strong union for sportswear workers. He once spent time in Don Jail, charged with disorderly conduct, fined $10 and set free in around 1937. Eventually the laws were changed to make the communist party illegal. Bennet was the prime minister who outlawed the party. The group changed their name and still managed to hold meetings, albeit underground. If the locations were discovered, there would be detectives standing at the door intimidating anyone who came. People were always getting arrested some were beaten up. Becky got arrested but got a very liberal judge who dismissed the case rather than sentence her to up to 2 years as he could have. Eventually a more liberal PM came in and the party was no longer under ground. Some of the socialist group members became aldermen and school board members and eventually members of parliament. Becky often distributed leaflets. They once organized a milk strike when the price of milk went up too high.

Becky was one of the original organizers of a summer camp for working children from poor families. It started in 1925 and they had 16 children in the first week. A few years later they had over 200. It was a sleep over camp. One of the campers was Jerry Goodis, later a Canadian legend in advertising. Others went on to radio and show business and they all wished they had a similar camp for their own kids to go to later. They had a 50th jubilee in 1975. Most of the campers were Jewish. They used a British cottage on Lake Ontario. Then they went to the Rouge River area. Eventually they settled in the Credit River area. They had a large camp but could not compete with others providing horseback riding and other things. In the early years the women raised money through friends. Becky’s father gave her whatever he could from his store. Eventually, the husbands got involved. They called themselves The United Jewish Peoples Order. That organization still owns the camp. In the 1970s they were offered over $300,000 for the land. But on the land are several cottages that are only used by adult members of the Order.

Art Arthur (born “Bossin” before adopting a Hollywood name suitable for L.A.) led an interesting life as a writer, making his father Zussman proud. He spent some time in Paris but never quite picked up the French language well. Returning to Toronto, he landed a job writing for the Toronto Star. His wages helped buy coal for the Bossin family home. Art’s older brother Hye was delighted about Art being on assignments for the Star, often writing movie reviews. His other brother, Dave, did not really care too much about Art’s success as his attention was constantly focused on rifts with his father.

Art had been only 17 years old when he worked as a news manager at the Toronto Star. Interestingly, Art, like his father, disliked the communist movement. That caused some friction at home, especially the time that Becky joined a band of protesters at the doors of the Star complaining about the lack of unionized labour. Becky and Art joked about it later, but Zussman did not speak to Becky for some time.

The biggest and best writing assignments would have been to cover Broadway for the Star. Eventually, Art got that assignment and lived in New York. The Star, however, was notorious for changing its personnel from time to time in major purges. Earnest Hemmingway worked around the same time, as Art and he hated Hindmarsh, the manager and the person who usually led the cost-cutting measures. Hemmingway noted that they always seemed to have their major purges around Christmas, and Art was one of about 45 people let go late one year. His next job was at the Border City Star in Windsor. He wrote show business columns and covered the Ontario legislature. He tried his hand at radio, but once was given a 15-minute talking spot for his movie reviews and used only 10 minutes, leaving the station manager to ad lib as Art left the studio.

Art joined the army and became a writer for the army during the Second World War. As the War was ending, he had the satisfaction of kicking aside the rubble in Hitler’s office that the Allies had just taken. He found Hitler’s stationery and wrote letters to his friends in Canada and the US with the words “Under new management”.

After the War, the army wanted to promote him, but he turned them down, preferring to further his writing career and dabbling in the growing film industry. He was assigned by the army to do a documentary film, “Seeds of Destiny”. It was a tremendous success and won an Academy Award as the best documentary of 1947. The two-reeled film was about children and their sufferings after the war. This film inspired a new movement that survives strongly to this day: UNICEF. Eventually, Art settled in Hollywood and wrote movie reviews and entertainment columns and then became a movie director. Art married Pepper, a stunning beauty and Zigfield Follies dancer.

He was on a first name basis with the stars of the day, such as James Cagney. Art recalls a very common custom in North American Jewish homes during the early part of the century. On Friday nights, a member of a local non-Jewish family would enter Jewish homes and, for a few cents, light the Shabbat fire for heat over the weekend. The Bossins even had such a helper, coined a “Shabbos Goy”. As Art tells it, Harry Warner, and his brothers Jack, Albert and Sam usually conversed in Yiddish with each other. When they were negotiating the Warner Brothers’ contract with James Cagney, Harry said to his brothers in Yiddish, as the negotiations started, that they wouldn’t go a penny over $2,000. They started the offering at $750. Cagney said no. They moved up slowly, receiving rejection every step along the way until Harry Warner said “$2,000!” Cagney responded, in Yiddish, “We’ve got a deal”. Cagney was a Shabbos Goy growing up a poor Irishman in Brooklyn. So he understood every Yiddish word the Warner Brothers thought they were sharing amongst themselves.

Art was encouraged to follow his calling by his older brothers Hye and Dave, both of whom achieved success, without leaving Toronto. Hye lived at home until his mother died and then he lived with his sisters Sadie and Celia. He was special. Picture the beautiful glassworks his father would have created for the Bossins of Brusilov and translate that talent into the written word and you have the intellectual wonders of Hye Bossin. In appearance, Hye was very handsome and he was a lady’s man who never married. He looked like the famous actor Pat O’Brien. Women loved him. As a 16 or 17 year old, he and his gang once pitched a tent on the Humber River and brought a keg of beer and many young women with them. They called it “Tap a keg o’ Beer”. This kind of camping became a tradition. They even had sweaters knitted with the words “Tap a keg o’ Beer” on them. Hye went on to have a weekly entertainment column in the Toronto Star and he founded the Canadian Film Weekly, a weekly magazine devoted to the entertainment industry. He died at a young age, but his legacy lives on. To this day, strangers in Toronto, when encountering a Bossin for the first time, often ask, “Are you related to the late Hye Bossin?”

The headlines read “Most Famous Unknown Hye Bossin Dies at 58”. Nathan Cohen, the renown columnist at the Toronto Star, wrote of Hye: “His convictions were expressed in all sorts of ways: in his gentleness with panhandlers; in the dedicated support he gave Variety village, a center for destitute and crippled children; in his adulation of Abraham Lincoln, about whom he wrote copiously from the angle of Canadian history; in his resentment of any manifestation of racial prejudice; in his choice of acquaintances; and in his patriotism.” Mr. Cohen was impressed with Hye’s ability to go through life having no enemies, no one who spoke ill or slighting of him. Hye once had a different view on one of Mr. Cohen’s reviews, but he said to Mr. Cohen, “…it is not in me to be a critic because criticism is the art of making enemies and failing to influence people.” In Mr. Cohen’s own words: “It was a remark that tells a good deal about this good and basically gentle and accommodating man.”

So Art and Hye definitely had inherited Zussy’s intellect and mastery of the arts. But what of his eldest son Dave? Zussman never had enough money to send his children to university and that was certainly a shame for son number one. Dave had been born in January 1905 aboard the ship St. Cecilia that carried his mother, Chava, to Canada. He had to go to work at an early age to support the Bossin household. He had a way with numbers, that uncanny ability to arrive at complex arithmetic solutions in his head. He also always seemed to have fabulous sums of money and he was tied in with a group of businessmen, lead by Abe Orpin, a racetrack owner. Abe played the horses and made a lot of money. Dave never bet himself; instead, he was a handicapper who went under the name Reilly. They had a clientele of 25 or 30 professional men that constantly placed bets and Dave was quite a success. By the 1930s, Dave was providing instantaneous racing results and, when challenged by the court system, he was successful in proving that plying his trade was perfectly legal. Dave headed a syndicate with a room of about 20 girls on the telephones announcing racing results across the country. The authorities were constantly hassling him but he was always, quite legally, one step ahead. At one time he partnered with Jack Slavin, his brother-in-law in Chicago. Finally, in 1944 he had had enough of the harassment and he went into business earning commissions placing bets for the next few years. Eventually he became a booking agent. But Dave died at an early age leaving his wife Marcia to raise their young son, Bob. Dave would have been proud to see Bob go on to give the Bossin name recognition across Canada as an accomplished singer and writer.

To state the obvious, we do a terrible injustice when we sum up the cherished lifetime of a loved one in just a sentence or two. Perhaps those who still possess those immediate memories can embellish the snippets of lives that follow.

Gertie was the eldest daughter of Mottel and Mollie. We can well imagine the staple diet of meat and potatoes in the old days. Well Gertie is remembered partly for introducing the family to green salads. Gertie was very close to Sam and she was the first in the family to have a radio. She supported the growing rights of women and perhaps was an inspiration for her cousins Anne and Becky. Gertie died too early at only 51 after an operation. In honour of her fellow socialist comrade, Gertie’s best friend dressed up in the trendy communist red garb of the day and literally threw herself at Gertie’s casket as it was lowered into the grave. Imagine our orthodox elders and the rabbi leading the graveside ceremonies and the turmoil that ensued.

Ethel left school when she was around 12 or 13 years and started working in the family store. We fondly remember Ethel as the outgoing sister, very straightforward with her remarks and a meticulous person. She made great pies and had a wonderful life with her husband Moe. They went to Detroit and prospered. Brothers Barney and Percy followed her to Detroit and stayed with Moe and Ethel. But the crash of 1930 was hard on them all.

Barney was pleasant and very easy going. He became a plumber. In fact, he was ahead of his time. He was kind, perhaps too kind. He only charged his customers based on how much they could afford to pay. But his efforts did pay off, as he was the first in the Bossin family to own a Model T Ford. The day Barney was buried, no one plumbing inspector in the city of Toronto went to work. They attended the funeral of the man they loved and respected.

Percy was the Casanova of the family. He was very outgoing; and sports minded, he played every sport of the times. In his mid twenties, he met Dorothy Baskin in Detroit and they were married. He was a milkman, a linen rental man, a dry cleaner, and he owned a billiard hall. He survived a heart attack at age 50 and began painting as a hobby, apparently displaying a hidden talent, but more importantly providing a peace of mind. He then delved in the antique business. We fondly remember Percy playing with the kids at the Seders and singing the old songs. He loved horse racing and probably never did win the big one. As the founder and president of the Fallstaff Senior’s Club, Percy was active till his last days.

As outgoing as Ethel was, her close sister Fay was the more thoughtful, serious person, always concerned about everyone else’s problems in the family. She worked at Eatons and she too brought home her money for Mollie. She lived through real poverty but met Moe’s brother Lou Mendelson and lived a wonderful, much loved and prosperous life.

Isadore is remembered as the compassionate son who always cared about the well being of his brothers. After Mollie died he held the Bossin family Seders at his home on Peverill Hill, just south of Eglinton west of Bathurst. To this day the memories survive of the Seder table spread out the length of the dining room and living room. The laughter and shouting came from the children’s end far away from Issy at the other end citing the blessings that went on forever. The Shhhush that could barely be heard as Issy trouped on with the service. Food flew. Nut games were held upstairs with Tevy teaching the kids about the commerce of walnuts and hazelnuts used as marbles worth hundreds then thousands of dollars. As a youngster, Issy was famous in the community for his success on the baseball diamond. In 1932 the Bellwoods Park Senior Jewish Baseball League title would have to be settled in a battle between the Hasmonians and the Herzl Zion team. Pitching for Herzl is Harry Sniderman. Issy plays third base for Hasmonians. Harry Sniderman was revered as the best Jewish baseball player in Toronto. Issy hits his second home run of the game to win the championship. Sports remained in his blood long after his baseball and football (he played for Parkdale) days were over.

Issy fell in love with and married a softball star, Lena Soloway, whose father owned the Whitby Dairy. He built up and ran the wholesale business, supplying grocery stores and restaurants, often carrying two heavy cases at a time of glass quart milk bottles from truck to store. After 20 years in the business he was very disappointed when his father-in-law sold the Dairy. With a partner, Issy owned and operated Siegel’s Restaurant on College, working two full time jobs to make ends meet. Later on he ran the 9-Minute Press dry cleaning business near Bay and Adelaide and led a charity group that sent clothing to Israel. Issy and Lena had a son Shier who became a chartered accountant, the first man of a profession in the Bossin family. Issy’s daughter, Gloria, matured into a strikingly beautiful young lady and was wooed by every eligible bachelor in Toronto. A gangly, but extremely bright and determined young doctor eventually won her heart. His name: Morton Shulman. Morty went on to be Ontario’s Chief Coroner, a Member of Ontario’s legislature, a best selling author, a television host for his controversial weekly show, and the founder of a public company that still thrives. We could write a book on his escapades. In fact, someone already has.

Bobby Bossin backed down from no one in the schoolyard. He loved baseball too, and followed his dreams to play hardball in various Ontario amateur leagues. In football, he was a lineman who often took on people larger than he was. One year he tried out for the Toronto Argonaut football team, but a knee injury definitely cut his career short. When his two children, Gary and Sharma were 3 and 9 years old respectively, their mother died at just 32 years of age. Bobby married twice more and had another son Eldon. At the very young age of 63, Bobby died of cancer.

Sidney was born in Toronto in 1913. No one ever told him or Percy their actual dates of births, so they both agreed to celebrate January 8th as their birthdays. Perhaps his early childhood illnesses were the reasons he did not take after his more robust, athletic brothers. In school he learned to be a bookkeeper, graduating from Central Commerce. In 1935 he married Rose Bensen and soon had 3 daughters, Sandra, Gloria and Fern. Son Marty was born several years later. Sid was a milk deliveryman, a bookkeeper, an Oakwood Avenue grocery store owner, a manager of a small chain of bargain stores in Kitchener and then finally, an Ontario Government corporate tax auditor. In between, the army drafted him into World War II wherein he was put into the motor pool and sent overseas. While in Europe he was injured when the jeep he was riding in overturned. His survival from this accident triggered a lifelong conviction that God would always look after him. Was he just clever or was it a sense of humour: when he returned from the army, among thousands of others arriving at the train station, he was the only soldier who walked backwards. Why? Simple, he was easier for his family to spot!

Sid believed in clairvoyants. He read all that he could on people such as Edgar Cayce and Nostradamus, although, he never claimed to have the gift himself. He always told his family he would die on Yom Kippur. But Sid was a survivor. After retiring in 1978, he suffered several heart attacks, and still managed to live a wonderful life. Winters were spent in Florida, and summers in Toronto. He loved to smoke cigars, but in 1984 he was diagnosed with throat cancer and that was followed by major surgery to remove his larynx. Sid tried not to let this “inconvenience” interfere with his joy of life. To participate in conversation, he learned how to speak with a voice box or “buzzer” as his family fondly remembers. After Issy died, Sid led most of the Bossin Seders and he was “Zaida” to almost everyone who knew him. On September 17, 2002, although his mind was still sharp, his body succumbed. Only a few hours later, Yom Kippur began.

Aubie was the youngest and most spoiled child of Mottel and Mollie. He soon became aware of and gladly participated in a family tradition started by his older brothers. Each Yom Kippur morning, in the Kiever Shul, the six boys, lined up with their proud and beaming father in a sea of blue eyes; however, just as religiously and much to the frustration of Mottel, they could be found, in the afternoon, at the race track. Mottel was vindicated each Yom Kippur evening when the boys returned for the Nillah services and then broke the fast together.

In 1939 Aubie married Pearl Lean and to this day they have never had a fight. Their son, Larry, has a theory on why they are unlike almost every other married couple. With Aubie being the youngest of 11 children and Pearl being the youngest of 5, they learned early in life that to get anything you had to compromise. Being the youngest child also meant that many of his nieces and nephews were almost as old as Aubie. Nevertheless, to a person, with affection and respect, he is addressed and referred to as “Uncle Aubie”.

Aubie, Pearl and their 3 children have the distinction of being the last Bossins to live at 37 Montrose Avenue. They moved in September 1951.

* * * * *

Those of us born in the 1940s and 1950s that remember the individuals remember the times as well. How unimpressive it must be to tell our children about the days when it took 5 minutes for the TV to warm up, when nearly everyone’s Mom was at home when the kids got home from school, when a quarter was a pretty decent allowance and you would actually reach into a muddy gutter for a lost penny. Your mom wore nylons that came in two pieces; your teachers had their hair done every day and wore high heels; it was considered a great privilege to be taken out to dinner at a real restaurant with your parents; no one ever asked where the car keys were because they were always in the car, in the ignition, and the doors were never locked. When you were sent to the principal’s office at school you knew that was nothing compared to the fate that awaited you at home. Basically, we were in fear for our lives, but not because of drive-by shootings, drugs, gangs, etc. Our parents and grandparents were a much bigger threat. But we survived because their love was greater than the threat.

For more than 100 years, the Bossin family has made its fair share of contributions to the community and the world at large. From Mottel Bossin’s building each Kiever shul bench with his own hands to the collaboration of Art Bossin with Cecil B. DeMille on the filming of Academy award winning The Ten Commandments Bossins have made a difference to those around us. But perhaps the best legacies of all are those that are left to the Bossins that live on. The Seder tradition did not cease when the house on Peverill Hill became too small. We simply moved to the Noshery Restaurant and the affairs became even more riotous. No matter what the venue the tradition goes on. At some point there was a father’s day tradition that grew into a family picnic that lives on to this day. What Bossin or spouse over 20 has not been assigned at least some responsibility for picnic duties? Be it organizing the kids races; or showing up at 8:00 am when the park opens to reserve the best spot and shade for the elders; or allocating and then purchasing the presents for the kids; or buying the watermelon, dragging out the tug-o-war rope for one last go, someone always volunteered. In 1984 we had the reunion to celebrate 80 years in Canada and Bossins came to Toronto from all over the continent. The picnic turned into a weather nightmare, but the lightning and sheets of rain did not dampen spirits. We all retired to Allen and Jane Bossin’s house for the best indoor picnic in 80 years. Traditions were not always just fun and games. When Bossins were in need, the family offered support. We set the Bossin Family Circle to meet once a month to discuss family happenings. Dues were collected and other money donated for an uxia, a fund to support family members in need on an anonymous basis. The regular meetings continue to this day despite so many of us avoiding attendance for fear that we may be elected president if we show up. Let the record show that Randy Gold is the proud president of 2004, having defeated an ornery foe that fought a nasty campaign against him, but still remains nameless and mysterious to us all. Let the Bossin name live another 100 years of health, peace and prosperity. Amen.

Allen Bossin
June 2004

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Zelda Goldstein Zwirek permalink
    May 29, 2010 10:26 pm

    Barney Bossin was my uncle. He was married to my aunt Dora Nyman who was my mother {Anne Nyman Goldstein)’s sister.Growing up we were considered part of the mishpocha. I have many fond memories of attending the family picnics held at Hyde Park also of my parents attending many of the Bossin simchas. Reading the Bossin history I recognize many names mainly those of Barney’s siblings and their children. I also remember visiting the Bubba and
    Zaida on Montrose . In his latter years the Zaida lived with Barney and Dora on Vaughan Rd.

  2. Robert Harris permalink
    January 22, 2011 2:45 pm


    You must have shared the gene pool with Art Arthur. I am so impressed with your creativity, and so happy to find out so much of our family’s history.
    My parents were Edward and Tillie Harris.

    Thank you so much!

    Bob Harris

  3. Leah Finkelstein permalink
    July 12, 2015 7:17 am

    I lived across the road from the Bossins at 50 Montrose and remember the family very well. Mrs Bossin on the verandah in the wheel chair and old Mr. Bossin. The thing I remember most was the children and grandchildren coming to visit. Fond memories. I was a small child and their pictures are etched in my memory.

    Leah Finkelstein (nee Rosenberg)

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